Wilfried Zaha is the bane of Huddersfield’s Premier League existence. In the opening fixture of last term, he tormented Tommy Smith for large parts of the game, and he created space and confusion in the Town defence last season as Palace romped to a 2-0 victory in West Yorkshire.
On Saturday he was at it again. His wonderful solo goal separated the two sides and meant that the Eagles returned to London with all three points. David Wagner bemoaned his side’s lack of luck after the game, and in fairness he did have a point.
The Terriers were incredibly unfortunate to lose this encounter after dominating much of the proceedings. Palace’s only real chance came through a moment of brilliance from Zaha, but that perhaps highlights the problem with this Town team. Who do we have to provide a moment of brilliance?
We’ll look at that and a number of other talking points in the rest of the article, enjoy!
“I’ll huff and puff and still not blow your house down”
Town had 15 efforts against Crystal Palace, of which only 2 hit the target and that tells us something we already know. We’re thoroughly incapable of putting the ball in the back of the net, notching just twice this season from two set-pieces.
It’s not enough to monopolise the ball and much of the momentum in a game if you fail to hit the back of the net. Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre are both undoubtedly talented strikers, but they are unfortunately playing in a system that limits their goal-scoring chances.
If we’re relying on Mounie or Depoitre to score from at least 50% of their chances then we’re in trouble. That type of conversion rate from a striker costs a lot more money than we can afford. At the risk of repeating myself, David Wagner MUST come up with an alternative attacking strategy because his current one simply isn’t working.
The Zaha conspiracy
Perhaps the biggest annoyance of Saturday’s game was the behaviour of Wilfried Zaha, his team-mates and even his manager. There is no doubt that he was the victim of rough treatment when we visited Selhurst Park last season.
However, on Saturday he had absolutely nothing to complain about. He was fouled, yes, but none of the challenges he received were anything other than mistimed. None of them were made deliberately to hurt him, stop him or injure him.
When Zanka stretched to meet a poor ball from Christopher Schindler, he caught Zaha – who was motoring at full-speed. Nothing more than a mistimed challenge, which is to be expected when you’re playing someone with the pace of Zaha.
The Ivorian and his team-mates reaction to this was nothing short of a disgrace, Zaha writhed in imaginary pain and his fellow players all called for a red card. After the match Roy Hodgson even hinted at some sort of refereeing conspiracy against Zaha.
Hodgson would have been better served looking at the heavy tackles that his own players meted out in the opening stages of the game. However, we are talking about the man that played Wayne Rooney as a holding midfielder and put Harry Kane on corner duty. Perhaps seeing clearly what happens in front of him isn’t one of Hodgson’s strong points.
There was plenty to be annoyed about on Saturday, but rather than focusing on Wiflried Zaha’s obvious character flaws, what has annoyed us most is another match without a goal for Town.
The problem has gone well beyond a minor frustration and now it is a severe problem. We want to see goals, we want to see attacking variation and so, adaptation is needed. Our tactics are too predictable for opponents and if this continues, we could find ourselves in real trouble.