Chelsea lose Nemanja Matic after controversial non-calls
This past Saturday, Chelsea drew 1-1 with Premier League cellar-dwellers Burnley thanks to a few controversial non-calls and a non-convincing performance by the league leaders.
Chelsea went up 1-0 in the 14th minute after Eden Hazard displayed composure and close control in the box dribbling past several defenders before delivering a tap-in goal for right-back Branislav Ivanovic. Although Chelsea controlled the game with 61% possession, there were four non-calls during the game and one correct call that led to a 1-1 draw.
In the 30th minute, Ashley Barnes put a crunching tackle on goal-scorer Ivanovic, but nothing was called.
In the 33rd minute, Ivanovic’s shot was clearly blocked by Michael Kightly’s flailing arm, but Chelsea was not awarded a penalty.
In the 43rd minute, Jason Shackell appeared to put two hands on Diego Costa in the box and shove him and Chelsea again was not awarded a penalty. This penalty shout was a little more debatable as Costa seemed to go to ground very easily.
In the 69th minute, Ashley Barnes once again put a two-legged over the ball tackle on Nemanja Matic, but nothing was called.
Moments later, Matic jumped up and retaliated against Barnes shoving him to the ground in disgust and receiving an immediate red card. Matic’s anger is understandable as Barnes’ tackle was malicious and had the appearance of a season- or even career-threatening injury. If you thought Matic’s reaction was bad, check out Worcester City’s Shab Khan body-slam Stockport County’s Charlie Russell after a vicious leg-swipe.
Burnley’s Benjamin Mee headed the equalizer in at the 81st minute against 10-man Chelsea, securing one point for struggling Burnley.
For the next three games, Chelsea will lose arguably their most consistent and important player. Matic provides a defensive shield behind Chelsea’s attack and is the glue that holds the defense, midfield and attack together. It wasn’t a coincidence that Chelsea’s 21-game unbeaten start to the season came to an end at St James' Park in December when Newcastle United beat the blues 2-1, as Matic was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
The loss of Matic puts pressure on The Blues, especially on Fabregas in the middle of the park. Mourinho will likely turn to veteran-midfielder Ramires to fill the midfield void and provide energy and defensive stability for the next few matches and then sub in Jon Obi Mikel if needed.
There may or may not be a “campaign” against Chelsea according to manager Jose Mourinho, but former referees boss Keith Hackett told talkSPORT that, “Martin Atkinson's refereeing performance in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Burnley was one of the worst ever.” Chelsea might have a former referee boss on their side, but Mourinho is doubtful at Chelsea's chances of overturning Matic's suspension, which is expected to be for three games, including next week's League Cup final with in-form Tottenham.
Although Tottenham handed Chelsea one of their only two-losses this in the Premier League this season, a 5-3 drubbing at White Hart Lane back on January 1, Chelsea will be poised to field a competitive side in hopes to secure one of two trophies this season (the other being the Champions League). Chelsea also has the benefit of not playing any matches until Sunday, March 1 while Tottenham play Fiorentina in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, February 26.
Keep an eye out for central-attacking midfielder Oscar to have a big impact on the match as he could prove to be key in this Cup final.