Sheffield United defender, George Baldock, has been selected by Alan Shearer in his team of the week for PremierLeague.com, despite controversy surrounding his treatment of Wilf Zaha.
The Blades wing-back put in a fine display against the Eagles. After picking up an early booking for fouls on Wilf Zaha, Baldock kept his focus in the second period to snuff out the threat of the Palace danger man.
It wasn’t the first time Baldock has impressed Shearer this season. The former England captain included the Blades star following his superb showing at Norwich City before Christmas, too.
But this week’s inclusion is more meaningful. That is because earlier in the day, The Times journalist, Matthew Syed, labelled the treatment Zaha received from the Blades as ‘institutional bullying’.
Syed used Saturday’s game as evidence, citing Zaha had been fouled eight times during the game. Granted, Baldock did bring Zaha down a few times but not one of the fouls had any malice behind it.
Baldock’s inclusion, then, is something of a smack in the face towards those claims from Syed.
Why the label of bullying is simply wide of the mark
While there might be a case for Zaha being one of the most fouled players in the league, being brought down eight times in a game is hardly out of the ordinary.
Especially, given the fact he regularly switches wings to cause havoc. It is, therefore, part of his game to entice defenders into making the odd lunge. United’s players were punished by the referee in line with the laws of the game.
Baldock, on the other hand, delivered a masterclass in how to play wing-back under pressure on Saturday. Once he had settled into the flow of the game, he was rarely troubled.
Zaha did, of course, cause some issues, especially in the opening 45 minutes. But to claim he was bullied or kicked off the park all game is simply not the case.
George Baldock’s second-half performance, one where he was scythed down by four Palace players in quick succession I might add, proved just why he is being considered for an England call.