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Courtois blames reckless refereeing, Deulofeu dive for Chelsea collapse

Not so sure about that, Thibaut...

Watford v Chelsea - Premier League - Vicarage Road Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois was one of the few Chelsea players brave enough to show his face after the humbling at Vicarage Road. Then again, when your defenders expose you for 21 shots (8 on target) and 4 goals, you’re probably more angry than anything. And that’s good. This squad could use a bit more anger at the moment. Courtois for captain!

“It’s hard to find positive results since two losses and we have to find our form again and get better. We have a tough month coming up and we need to pick up points, the Champions League [last-16 tie with Barcelona] is coming soon and we have to continue to work.”

That said, Courtois’ anger seems to be misplaced slightly. And that’s not necessarily a problem — us against the world and all that; and if the players need to feel that sense of injustice to recover from this malaise, that’s perfectly okay. But we should probably point out that if Courtois believes he did nothing wrong on the Deulofeu penalty, he quickly needs to rethink his approach. It was a very rash decision to come out in that instance and once committed, disaster was always going to be a likely outcome.

“Obviously the penalty is a clear dive.

”Yesterday [in Liverpool and Tottenham’s 2-2 draw] we saw when the goalkeeper comes out and is late you make yourself small but the striker puts his foot there and it’s a penalty, every time this will happen. He left his foot and dives, it’s not a penalty.

“I think we all know this kind of players it happens everywhere in the world, this type of striker sees the goalkeeper coming for the ball, I make myself as small as possible with my belly on the ground and he manufactures the contact. I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s a penalty.”

A clear dive?

People tend to get hung up on the whole “contact” issue, but by the letter of the law, contact is not a requirement for a foul. The language of FIFA’s Law 12 clearly includes that an “attempt to” foul (kick or trip) is just as punishable as an actual kick or trip. Courtois did not get the ball when diving at the feet of Deulofeu. If he had gotten the ball, he would’ve been fine. But he took the high risk option, missed, which thus turned into an (attempted) trip on Deulofeu. That the Watford player ensured that his leg was still there when Courtois’s body came through is par for the course.

(I’m all in favor of booking Deulofeu for exaggerating, mind you — the “agony” on his face is almost Shakespearean — but it’s still a penalty.)

For Courtois to labor under the impression that this shouldn’t be a penalty is fairly silly, considering that it almost always gets called one. He himself brings up the example from the Liverpool vs. Tottenham game the day before, which was just as much a penalty as this one.

For comparison’s sake:

Where Courtois has a better argument is regarding the yellow cards dished out to Tiemoue Bakayoko by replacement referee Mike Dean (up until about the weekend, this match was supposed be refereed by Craig Pawson).

“The red card is very light, first never a yellow and the second too light.”

-Thibaut Courtois; source: ESPN

While the first one is possibly justifiable, since Bakayoko made no attempt to play the ball and just cynically threw himself on Etienne Capoue, the second one was “extremely harsh” (that’s former referee Graham Poll’s phrase, and Poll sure loves yellow cards!) and even more so in the context of the game — there had been no other yellows handed out and worse challenges had been (and would be) let go.

Bakayoko’s sending off changed the game, and not for the better as the cynics and Twitter trolls gleefully declared at the time.

The unfortunate part is what we all saw Bakayoko’s game-changing error coming after 3-4 other instances were he single-handedly tried to gift the advantage to the hosts, and he should’ve been taken off before getting a chance to lose another ball and then get caught trying to win it back. Whatever confidence he may have had would’ve probably been destroyed with such an early sub, but the damage is far worse this way. It’s time to return to the drawing board both for him and for Conte. Chelsea are need of a fix that’s as big in magnitude as the one that was required after back-to-back losses early last season.

While it’s easy to blame the refereeing or diving, Chelsea’s overall performance was abject, both with ten and eleven men, for the second time in a week. There are deeper issues here than Mike Dean hogging the limelight and, as Conte said, everyone needs to take responsibility.

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