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Positives and negatives: Chelsea 1-0 Fulham

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 14th January 2024

Group chats were muted, people that haven’t set foot in Stamford Bridge in decades suddenly piped up and that has got Cam’s goat. This is what he has to say on Saturday’s cheerless loss.

Don’t worry, people, we’ll do ’em at Wembley. On a chilly January afternoon, Fulham played out an SW6 derby with Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea and it ended in narrow defeat for Marco Silva’s men, but it wasn’t without widespread controversy. These meetings are always highly anticipated but it was a damp squib on this occasion, a match that won’t live long in the memory but that doesn’t mean we’ve nothing substantial to unpack.

The talking points aren’t as abundant as we’d have hoped for before kick off but they are important, because they ultimately shaped the way in which the game panned out. Sample it, suck it up and look ahead to our next fixture, that date with destiny on the 24th in the Carabao Cup. We’ve got to use this as fuel for better, we’ve time to rest and once we’re ready to get to it once more, we will be ready. We may have dropped six points against them down the road but south west London is still black and white and there is always next time. When that will be, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Positives

Nothing to say, really

I haven’t anything to say, really. We were visibly knackered following our clash at Anfield, the Blues had an extra day to recover but truth is, both sides were awful and we just didn’t pressurise them enough in key situations. Free-kicks ballooned over the crossbar, clear cut scoring opportunities were few and far between and though we dealt with Chelsea for the majority of the match, we just didn’t have the energy to capitalise and I suppose that cannot be helped.

There was a decent level of enthusiasm from Andreas Pereira, Kenny Tete kept Raheem Sterling under close quarantine but other than that, the Whites were flat, reserved and we didn’t actually deserve anything from our daytrip to the dog track. I guess there’s a bigger picture to appreciate here, we’ve a tremendous challenge ahead of us when Liverpool visit so as we’ve 10 days to recuperate, we have to prepare in the best way possible and that means we have to put this defeat behind us for good. We move.

Negatives

Gusto’s scandalous caution

The standard of officiating in the Premier League has gotten so bad, they’re not even trying to disguise the blatant big six bias because even though everyone that’s seen Malo Gusto’s horror challenge admits that it should’ve been a straight dismissal, VAR and Anthony Taylor chose to ignore the collision’s severity and recklessness. That is downright disgusting. Gusto, studs up and out of control, clamped down on Willian’s ankle, his foot rolled over the ball and our Brazilian felt the full impact of the Frenchman’s repulsive lunge and all that he received was a caution. Scandalous.

The replays are even more incriminating. Willian’s ankle bent inward at a 90 degree angle, it’s those tackles entirely that can completely ruin a player’s career and yet, Gusto was allowed to play on with nothing more than a yellow to his detriment. Chelsea’s fullback lost possession, he had no bearing on his surroundings and his appalling attempt to claim the ball from Willian should’ve been acted upon properly.

How can this go unpunished? Retrospectively, Gusto should receive a multiple game ban, even Pochettino conceded that is should’ve been a red card but you can bet your bottom dollar nothing will be done about it. This is the supposedly the elite level of football anywhere in the world, a stage that sets the bar for divisions far and wide and even with Video Assisted Refereeing, even with the license to scrutinise and deliberate in real time, Stockley Park’s glaring neglect is in the spotlight once again and it is an ugly sight for sorest of eyes.

To add further insult to injury, Gusto took to his social media platforms to gloat about his careless actions, the very fact he’s championing it suggests he’s a nasty little wanker and now, he’s another reason to hate the scum even more. This was no accident, Gusto could’ve stayed on his feet and impeded play fairly but he didn’t. With a raised boot he flew into Willian in a moment of madness and he knew exactly what he was doing.

Earlier this season, Gusto was red carded for a carbon copy cruncher against Aston Villa, so I guess the real question that people want answers for is this: where is the consistency? It just doesn’t add up, there’s next to no clarity in the rules and regulations and every single week, we’re force fed pathetic, half-arsed explanations which only cause harm and discontent.

Also, while we’re at it, Thiago Silva also should’ve received stronger discipline for his high tackle on Raul Jimenez but again, the veteran centre-back escaped with a caution because it suited the PGMOL’s twisted narrative. I’d like to have seen how both scenarios would’ve worked out if the perpetrator was a Fulham player, we’d have almost certainly been cut down to ten men and we wouldn’t be granted the chance to dispute them either. It’s cheating at its worst, favouritism to the core and if these crooks that preside over proceedings can’t differentiate between right and wrong, the game as we know it is well and truly gone.

Cheaply bought winner

The above dovetails inconveniently into Chelsea winning penalty and the soft as shit foul that led to it. Issa Diop’s boot nudged Sterling’s standing foot, it was nowhere near enough to make the England international plunge to the deck in the overly dramatic way he did but I suppose Sterling’s built a career on playacting and Taylor and his cronies bought it. Dodgy, that’s what it is.

The laws of the game are contradictory, nobody really knows what constitutes as a genuine foul and innocuous contact and for me, Diop’s been done over by a serial diver. There’s contact, I’m not blind to that but it just isn’t a penalty and it’ll take a very persuasive argument to change my opinion. Call it clumsy from Issa, exaggerated by Sterling, nobody can agree or disagree without a single doubt that it was the correct decision but it is such a cheap way to win. Neither side were at it, a goalless draw was probably the deserved outcome but nothing’s ever that simple and we’ve simply become numb to it, too.

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