Carvalho & Gunnarsson acts call for revision of penalties
Three games kicked up earlier than the others yesterday afternoon. Chelsea v Aston villa, Spurs v Fulham and West Ham v Reading. All three games carried five dismissals altogether, three in one game.
Watched the highlights of the Stamford Bridge match, which the pundits around on TV and radio are hailing as a fantastic game. For the neutrals, of course, it was fantastic, but not as a fan of either side. Or a former manager. Joe Mourinho said of a high scoring match either side that such a match was not good as it goes on to expose defensive frailties of both sides. And he is right.
Gabriel Agbonlahor simply caught out Chelsea's left side, who left him alone enough to chip towards John Carew, who headed across for Shaun Maloney to hit past Petr Cech. With Ricardo Carvalho in defence, I felt he would hold the line firm but Chelsea were stretched. What would Mourinho have felt about Villa's second, a shot from Maloney that Cech should have gathered comfortably yet it was almost a carbon copy of the first Croatia goal at Wembley not so long ago. How Carson must have looked on and sympathised. Maloney was not closed down.
Then the penalty. It wasn't in my opinion, any contact from Zat Knight must have been minimal and not exerted enough to cause such a foul. Michael Ballack clearly dived to exaggerate and Phil Dowd's miserable grouchy self gave it and the red card to Knight. Penalty coolly deposited by Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian was put on fire and he responded in the 2nd half with a superb shot from outside the box to equalise, with Alex adding another with a sweet run and link up with Shevchenko. Yet more defensive frailties as an Ashley Young freekick was evaded by all but Martin Laursen for Villa's equaliser, not one Chelsea defender went to that ball.
Then the second dismissal. What the heavens was Carvalho thinking as he just dived in on Agbonlahor with both feet like an eagle on its prey?? Notwithstanding that Agbonlahor was about to run on goal and could have left Carvalho, as the last defender, for dust, the Portuguese was certainly uncharacteristic with that challenge. But a freekick for Chelsea with two minutes to go brought a superb show of technique and skill from Ballack as he curled the ball away and past Carson. Yet that was put to the side as Villa attacked with injury time looming, the ball dangerously bouncing in front of the Chelsea goal and Ashley Cole diverting it away. The decision was given that handball occurred and Cole was sent off. Replays showed the ball more likely bounced off Cole's chest. Gareth Barry scored from the spot-kick.
So for me two penalties and two dismissals that were not.
I watched West Ham v Reading. When Reading went behind, I felt they have a good attacking approach that could gift them an equaliser because West ham were coming forward but not utilising the space and speed they worked up in front of Reading's goal. Freddie Ljungberg and Scott Parker were guilty of not providing across goal when given the excellent chance to. Reading were reduced to ten when Brynjar Gunnarsson won one tackle and then launched into a two-footed lunge on Hayden Mullins. So bizarre, rightly dismissed.
West Ham scored fortuitously as Carlton Cole slipped over the ball but mixed up defending allowed Nolberto Solano to control and slip past the Reading keeper. Reading equalised in the second half as Nicky Shorey chipped a sweet reverse ball for Dave Kitson to volley past Rob Green. Reading with eleven players may well have stolen the points but overall a draw was fair.
Both tackles by the players in question very much could have caused a horrific injury, much less a broken bone. A straight red and three games out could make or break a side's next three games, but the long-term of a player on the end of such challenges is a far more serious issue to consider. What more can be done to stamp this challenge out? Introduce huge fines too? Because I felt it would wither away from football, we are not taught to tackle with two feet so at professional level we are not supposed to be seeing it, yet there we are with two such incidents early in the day.
As far as I am concerned, huge fines are a must in such circumstances. While I think Ashley Cole and Zat Knight have good cause to appeal their dismissals, Carvalho and Gunnarsson certainly need to do more than apologise. Such conduct should compel the instigator to contribute to the cost of any recovery for the injured.