Sunday, 16 March 2014

Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Even with sober reflection and having seen highlights of the game on Match of the Day my heart and head are still full of ire since the performances of the officials at yesterday's game. Let me get three things out of the way. Yes, by the letter of the law Matic's goal should not have stood. You could use the same argument for Willian's second yellow. But if that is the case most games would end up seven-a-side. And finally, Ramires' tackle was bloody woeful and it has been coming as some of his challenges as a Chelsea player have been less than impressive.

Now that we have got the mea culpas out of the way let us get another thing straight. No, Lambert - Villa were not dominating the match as you state in your post-match conference. Sky commentators jinxed us when they stated a Chelsea goal was coming as just minutes later we were reduced to ten men. That second yellow would not have happened in 99% of football matches (Shearer even stated it should not even have been given as a foul) and that helped Villa score their winning goal.

The home side should have been reduced to ten men when Ramires was clean through on goal in the first half. Again, by the letter of the law some could argue the opposite way - but it would not surprise me (however inexcusable it may be) that our midfielder took his frustrations out towards the end that earned his early bath.

Above all this, what irks most is no repeated coverage of some terrible linesman decisions in the first half. Not once, but twice flagging for offside when quite clearly our players were level and would have been straight through on goal. It must annoy when you practice all week on the training pitch to time things to a tee in a league that is so hard and competitive to play in and see such decisions occur. You wonder what the point of trying is?

Although commentators already warned of Foy's record against Chelsea before kick-off I try to keep an open mind. But had his and his colleagues' decisions in the first half been made correctly then we would not even be mentioning a Chelsea loss or even red cards for our side today. Having seen the highlights of the Hull City vs Man City match where the home side should have earned at least one penalty for challenges far worse than Willian's that earned him his second yellow card you do wonder...

The plus side is that this match has really galvanised the fighting spirit for my team and club. One can be philosophical as this season has been one where on balance of play we have had more decisions go our way than in previous years. But at this stage of the campaign games such as the one we had yesterday were crucial. Our peers will drop points for sure - let us hope that at the end of the season we shall look back to this visit to Villa Park as one that positively cemented our mindset and spirit - this is where we as fans come into the fore and get behind our club. Let's rise above it all and fight!