Everybody knows that without Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace are nowhere near as effective or dangerous.
The Eagles’ 1-0 victory over Leicester City in December was their first win without Zaha for over two years, which obviously tells you everything about their over-reliance on the mercurial winger.
However, Zaha missed the final minutes of the 1-1 draw against Southampton on Wednesday night, and will be banned for Saturday’s home clash against Fulham, after picking up two yellow cards in quick succession.
Zaha complained earlier this season that referees are failing to protect him during matches, telling reporters: “I feel like before anyone has to get a red card I’d have to get my leg broken or something, which is why I lose my head.”
And the 26-year-old lost his head in the 87th minute against the Saints following a challenge on the touchline by James Ward-Prowse.
Bemused and frustrated by referee Andre Marriner’s decision not to award him a free-kick, Zaha was booked for dissent.
He then reacted to that yellow card by sarcastically applauding the Premier League match official, earning himself a second booking seconds later.
As soon as Marriner pulled out the second yellow card, Ward-Prowse’s questionable reaction was caught on camera.
The 24-year-old was spotted pumping his fist towards the fans in celebration, almost as if his team had just scored a goal.
Watch the footage here…
Ward-Prowse presumably felt that Southampton’s chances of securing all three points were boosted in that moment.
However, celebrating the red card of an opponent is pretty poor form.
Here’s how football fans on Twitter reacted to Ward-Prowse’s celebration…
In fairness to Zaha, he apologised for his actions after the match.
"All I can do is apologise to the team and the fans for my red card tonight because I could have cost us today," he wrote on Twitter. "I will learn from it for sure."
Meanwhile, Palace boss Roy Hodgson did not excuse Zaha’s behaviour, but did complain about Southampton’s ‘consistent fouling’ of his team’s star player.
"It's disappointing that the player who perhaps provided some of the best entertainment during the 90 minutes with his performance was consistently fouled throughout the game [and] wasn't able to contain his frustration with that consistent fouling," Hodgson was quoted as saying by Goal.
"Protests over a foul which is not given which probably should have been, but then once he applauds the referee's decision to give him a yellow card the referee, under the rules of the game and the instructions they are given, he's got no option but to send him off.
"So, there's not much one can say about it."
Following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s, Palace and Southampton remain level on points (23) just outside the relegation zone.