Wilfried Zaha is facing the threat of an increased ban following his red card at St Mary’s.
The Crystal Palace forward was booked for an exchange with Southampton scorer James Ward-Prowse and, seconds later, was shown a second yellow for sarcastically applauding referee Andre Marriner’s decision.
The dismissal would have earned Zaha a one-match ban but the FA, who were today still waiting for Marriner’s report, could increase the suspension as the player appeared to applaud the referee again as he left the pitch.
Zaha posted on Twitter: “All I can do is apologise to the team and the fans for my red card because I could have cost us today. I will learn from it for sure.”
Palace, who had taken the lead in the first half through Zaha, held on to claim a point which moves them four points clear of the relegation places.
Palace will be without the Ivorian for Saturday’s crucial clash with Fulham.The Eagles do not have a good record without Zaha in their side and their victory over Leicester in December was the first time in 812 days they had won a League match when he was not playing. That, however, is now their task on Saturday as they host Fulham — who are six points behind them and 19th in the table.
“He took his goal really well. He was a threat all night. It is just unfortunate that he has been sent off. I don’t really know what happened so I can’t comment. I have not spoken to Wilf either.
“He is obviously a big miss. He is one of our best players and we will miss him. But we have got players in the squad who hopefully are ready to go and take their chance.”
McArthur insists the team’s record without Zaha is something only critics focus on, but Palace are confident they can win without him.
They have the added bonus of both Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham, along with fellow striker Jordan Ayew, now being fit to boost their firepower for Saturday.
“They are going to be big players for us,” said McArthur. “Jordan was excellent up front as well, he works so hard. Everyone is going to need to try and step up their game to try and push us up the table. It is a blow when you lose your top players, but it is a game we look forward to. We believe we can win any game, no matter who is playing.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson admitted his frustrations at the circumstances surrounding Zaha’s dismissal.
He said: “I think it’s disappointing that the player who perhaps provided some of the best entertainment with his performance was consistently fouled and wasn’t able to contain his frustration with that.
“[That led to] protests over a foul which was 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 that they are given, has got no option but to send him off.”
However, the 71-year-old added he doesn’t think Zaha is targeted by the opposition.
Hodgson said: “I just think players who run with the ball as well as he does do get fouled and he was fouled a lot of times in the game.
“But I didn’t get the impression from my position on the bench that he was being deliberately targeted, no more than any other of our players.
“In fact, Jordan Ayew also got fouled when he ran with the ball a couple of times, so I will put it more down to the fact that he’s running with the ball and his play was good enough to provoke fouls.”