Jose Mourinho said there was a conspiracy against Chelsea. The world scoffed and pointed out that decisions have gone both for the west London team and against them. This is true but in this modern day and age, we all have access to plenty of football and get to watch a lot of the action.
I have bought into the conspiracy to some degree even before the game today but choosing the Chelsea v Burnley match as my 3PM game of choice and seeing the way referee Martin Atkinson handled the game, you have to wonder what is really going on. Atkinson has referred at international level and is an experienced official but his performance on Saturday afternoon was sub-par to say the least.
We’ll look at the big three incidents, first of all the handball shout in the penalty area after a shot from Ivanovic. I’m one of those who really extenuates the deliberate part of the deliberate handball so I often think no pen when others say pen. This time though the ball has travelled a good five yards and the defender has jumped with his arms outstretched as far as they can go to spread himself. It is pretty deliberate that he’s spread his arms that wide for a reason. It just looked a penalty but the ref, he said no despite being in a great position.
Next up another penalty shout after Costa went down. Watching it live again your instinct is penalty, why would Costa be going down in that position? The ref waves it away and then we see a replay. The defender gives him a two armed push, its a penalty every day of the week and twice on Sunday’s. Atkinson’s assistant had the perfect view and gave nothing but Atkinson himself had a good angle to see the shove so in all likelihood saw it but decided somehow that it wasn’t a penalty. Madness.
Then we get on to the incident that will dominate the back pages tomorrow, Ashley Barnes doing Nemanja Matic and the Chelsea midfielders reaction. Lets start here, Matic had to go for his reaction despite how little it was, Atkinson had little choice there but the challenge that provoked such a reaction was a potential leg breaker from Barnes. It was a horror challenge, it was a red, plain and simple and everyone could see it.
Atkinson was looking straight at it but didn’t even give a foul, he was looking straight at it. If a referee sees that challenge and doesn’t even see it as a foul then lets be blunt, they shouldn’t be refereeing. If they can’t protect the players from potential leg breakers then they have to hang up their whistle. As fans you can understand when a referees view is impeded or they are looking away from the incident but when they are looking at a horror challenge and do nothing, then there’s an issue.
Matic should have got up from being on the receiving end to see a referee running in to get in the way of him and Barnes whilst reaching into his back pocket for the straight red card that Barnes deserved. Instead the ref was just pointing for a throw in. Matic then shoves Barnes in the back and gets his marching orders (not before a few choice words thrown in Barnes’ direction).
Lastly on this incident there is an angle where you can see Barnes walking away and he slyly smiles, he knows he’s done Matic and that he’s gotten away with it. He had a cheap one on Ivanovic in the first half as well that didn’t get sanctioned.
Burnley have been a joy to watch in the past two months or so with their energy and never say never attitude but Barnes was nasty today and could easily have already been in the showers before his nasty tackle on Matic. It will be interesting to see if Atkinson in his report says that he saw the incident but didn’t believe it was worthy of sanction or he says he missed it entirely. We all know he saw it but if he says he did and didn’t see anything wrong with it then his credentials will be questioned.
Chelsea have had more than their fair share of bad decisions this season and I’ve watched them a lot (in general if either Chelsea or Arsenal are a 3PM game I’ll start at one of those two and drift if that game becomes a clear victory for one). If a game isn’t in the 3PM slot then of course I’ve pretty much seen it all because I have no life and watch an awful lot of sport on the telly. Jose even came out after the game and knew that pretty much anything he said would be used against him by the FA.
If the FA actually looked at all the incidents involving Chelsea players this season (both for and against) they’ll see that a disproportionate amount of decisions have gone incorrectly against Chelsea and that number is getting larger and not smaller and that must be a problem when we talk about the integrity of the Premier League.
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