Whatever happened to the ‘Respect’ campaign in the Premier League? You know, where players are supposed to treat referees properly, not questioning every call under the sun.
Just like Manchester United when losing, Chelsea’s behaviour in Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at Manchester City was embarrassing.
First the Blues moaned about the tying goal, when a fiercely struck shot went off Micah Richards’ arm – he had no chance to get out of the way and kept his arms tightly beside him – and straight to Emmanuel Adebayor for a tap in. Chelsea’s veterans surrounded referee Howard Webb, who thankfully stood firm.
Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole are particularly aggressive. Cole showed his stubbornness by walking away when Webb went to book him late in the second half, which only served to kill precious time for the visitors, chasing the game.
Chelsea scarcely had a problem when wrongly given a corner kick that led to Adebayor’s own goal.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who vowed not to criticize the refs early in the campaign, targeted Webb for not disallowing City’s first goal and awarding a free kick early in the second half when defender Ricardo Carvalho, known for his dirty tricks, left his foot high in a challenge. Carlos Tevez duly dispatched the free kick, taking advantage of a goalkeeping gaffe by Petr Cech.
Sure refs open themselves up for criticism by making bad mistakes, but Webb had no reason to second guess himself for the calls that didn’t go Chelsea’s way.
The result widened the title race, allowing Manchester United to get closer and Arsenal to gain momentum following consecutive losses to Chelsea and Sunderland. The Gunners dominated a surprisingly tame Stoke City 2-0 at the Emirates, while United exploited West Ham’s misery at the back in a 4-0 rout.
City is feeling much better, finally snapping a run of consecutive draws in the Premier League.
The top three have interesting encounters next weekend. Chelsea, hit by a few injuries, hosts an Everton side on a high after scoring two late goals to draw Tottenham on Sunday. United, bare in defense, entertains a surging Aston Villa, and Arsenal visits Liverpool in a must-win game for both.