Momma said there would be days like this.
Mourinho did, too. In fact, just before Saturday's game, he warned prophetically about how the little things add up. The little fouls on individual plays, the little decisions throughout the game, the individual games during the whole season, they all have a bigger impact than the sum of their parts. Death by a thousand incompetent referees, unchecked tactical fouls, and, let's not forget, lackadaisical play and missed chances on our own part. And suddenly a seven-point lead is reduced to five, and could be reduced to two before Chelsea play another Premier League match.
Whenever football presents a maddening result, we look to be angry at someone. Martin Atkinson, formerly accused of favoring Chelsea by various sets of fans, turned in a performance of utmost incompetence. To call it bias would be to overlook the magnitude of his many missed or incorrect calls. Asking any one human to be perfect at an impossible job -- especially on one whose linesman isn't helping with calls like the Diego Costa push -- is futile, but it takes special skill to get so many potentially game-changing calls wrong. If he gets just one of the four main decisions (30, 33, 43, 69) right, it's quite likely that Chelsea run out comfortable winners. Even if Atkinson receives the only form of repercussion available to referees for a shocking poor performance and gets put on assignment to the lower leagues, the fact remains that for Chelsea, it's two points dropped and a seven-point lead reduced to just five points.
Meanwhile, Nemanja Matić, formerly Chelsea's center on unflappable magnificence, snapped in a jaw-dropping show of frustration (fortunately his leg didn't snap in half). His retaliatory push on Ashley Barnes was the only obvious incident to which the referee managed to not turn a blind eye, dishing out a red card that could have repercussions in the title race well beyond just this game should it be deemed worthy a three-match ban. That it was Matić who finally snapped after several sneaky, reckless, or studs-first kicks from Burnley's center forward aimed on various Chelsea players is a stark reminder that when pushed too far, even the best of us have a limit. We found the Spiderbeast's tonight, though when it comes down to it, if he keeps it together, it's quite likely that Chelsea run out comfortable winners. Instead, it's two points dropped and a seven-point lead reduced to just five points.
Chelsea now have just three wins in their last eight, including four 1-1 draws. We scored more than one goal only twice since the 5-0 demolishing of Swansea City, and one of those games was the 4-2 travesty against Bradford City. Perhaps the Diego Costa suspension* has thrown the team off. Perhaps the squad changes in January have affected some intagible dressing room chemistry. Perhaps fatigue or injuries are catching up. Perhaps it's just normal variance, and our play isn't getting the results it would usually. Perhaps it's a combination of factors. It's the little things. It's similar little things that had seen us gain and lose an eight-point lead in the fall, and now have seen our seven-point lead reduced to just five points.
* By the way, where are my Ashley Barnes Crimes headlines?! I know it's not alliterative like Costa Crimes, but it does spell ABC.
"I prefer to say that this game had four crucial moments - minutes 30, 33, 43 and 69 - this is the story of the game. It's difficult for me to not say the truth. I'm making it easy for you because you can go home, look at those moments and you will know what I think about the game."
"Minute 69 has a big relation to minute 30. Normally the player , if I can call him a player, who was involved in minute 69, and was also involved in minute 30, should be in the shower by minute 31. So there would be no minute 69 if the person in charge dealt with minute 30 in a proper way."
"If this story, that started a couple of months ago, finished today, and we had 12 matches to play with an advantage of five points I would tell you we would be champions. But I don't know if the story ends here or if there is more waiting for us."
"I'm happy that I'm not stupid and I understood everything a couple of months ago."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC
These two dropped points hurt. All dropped points hurt, but these two hurt more than most. Fans are incensed, players are incensed, the manager's incensed, even the media's incensed. Or at least parts of. What really matters now is the reaction. We had a five-point lead at the start of the month. We're now back to a five-point lead. The only we have to make sure is that we don't let Atkinson, Matić, Barnes, or any of the other little cuts don't turn into a bleeding wound, and the title will still be comfortably ours.