To dive or not to dive
One of the biggest talking points over the weekend in the Premier League was the goal that opened the scoring in the 3-3 draw between Hull City and Crystal Palace at the KCOM Stadium.
Robert Snodgrass stepped up to score from the penalty spot after he himself had been fouled. Referee Mike Jones’ decision to award a penalty didn’t go down too well with Scott Dann, the penalised player, and it didn’t really need a second look to see why.
It was the clearest of dives from Snodgrass. He’d got away with one and even sort of admitted it himself later in the day. “Apologies from my end, it was never a penalty,” he tweeted before suggesting: “But genuinely thought defender was going to slide so tried to ride the tackle.”
I wonder if homer Jones would have ever considered giving a decision like that for the away team. It was certainly one of a number of decisions that upset Palace boss Alan Pardew, who at least didn’t head butt anyone on this latest visit to Hull, and he’d every right to be upset.
Snodgrass was lucky on two counts. Had the decision been a correct one he would have been off the pitch having already received a yellow card earlier in the game. Still it didn’t bother Hull boss Micky Phelan who, when asked about whether he thought it was a dive, said: “The ref didn’t feel that we, we take the penalty.”
Hull are still next to bottom, one point clear of Sunderland who had a shocking day in Wales against the other club in the bottom three Swansea. I thought, given their recent form, Sunderland might win this one but they came home with a 3-0 defeat and the points saw Swansea, who had started the weekend in bottom place, climb out of the bottom three, albeit for just a day, West Ham’s point at Liverpool moving them back up to 17th yesterday.
Swansea boss Bob Bradley seems to think he’s not popular because he’s American and that some want him out because of his accent. He had words for his critics too before the game. “There were some who had me out of the door from the first day because of my accent. They can hit the road because that doesn’t have anything to do with anything.”
Swansea seemed to be a well run club. The fans had a stake in it and they’d climbed the leagues from almost dropping out of the Football League in 2002 to being a Premier League club, a position they’ve held since 2011. But the fans aren’t happy now. Managers come and go too quickly and they’ve accused chairman Huw Jenkins and his board of greed after selling most of their shares in the takeover by Americans in July.
At the other end of the table it is very much London at the top with Chelsea leading the way. They are three points clear of Arsenal who themselves are a further three points ahead of third place Liverpool.
Diego Costa got the Chelsea goal, his 12th Premier League goal of the season but everything in Costa’s garden isn’t rosy, he’s now going to have to contend with Garth Crooks who has said: “I am starting to love him.”
I seem to remember, just after we’d won promotion, Sean Dyche all but confirming we wouldn’t win the Premier League this season. I think he was asked if we would emulate Leicester who were just about to clinch the title. We’re twenty points behind Chelsea so I think that might have been an accurate assessment. Leicester, meanwhile, are struggling themselves but managed to put a spoke in Manchester City’s title chasing wheel. They won 4-2 but were four goals in front with just a few minutes to go. Incredibly, that’s led to the management qualities of Pep Guardiola being questioned by some over the weekend.
It’s hard to believe but that’s what happens when a team has a hiccup and, if you recall, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte was being questioned earlier in the season when they went three games without a win, drawing at Swansea and then losing against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Conte and Chelsea have responded since. They’ve played nine, won the lot and have conceded just two goals. Now it’s Guardiola’s turn because they’ve lost successive games and have won just two in the last five, those against Palace and us. City are currently fourth. I doubt they’ll go much lower and I’m sure they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
I’d have more confidence in them winning the title if they had a decent goalkeeper and the same goes for Liverpool. Still, a good goalkeeper doesn’t necessarily win you anything; the performances of Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford is evidence of that.
Finally, Manchester United won yesterday so no histrionics from Jose and no further touchline ban. He’s still deluded though; he thinks they can win the title and I don’t think that’s going to happen when you are thirteen points behind the leaders at this point in time.
It’s midweek games this week for the first time this season. I’m not sure why they wait until this time rather than play them in the earlier weeks of the season, but it’s forced us to go down to London twice in just a few days.
All ticket holders I believe have now received their binoculars and tin hats, both a must for a visit to the London Stadium.
The Premier League’s leading goalscorers, each club’s red and yellow card counts and their average attendances can all be found in Goalscorers-Discipline-Attendances within Season Stats on the top menu.
Gameweek 16 Fixtures
Tuesday 13th December
Bournemouth v Leicester
Everton v Arsenal
Wednesday 14th December
Crystal Palace v Manchester United (8 p.m.)
Manchester City v Watford (8 p.m.)
Middlesbrough v Liverpool
Stoke v Southampton (8 p.m.)
Sunderland v Chelsea
Tottenham v Hull (8 p.m.)
West Brom v Swansea (8 p.m.)
West Ham v Burnley
Kick offs are 7:45 unless otherwise shownFollow UpTheClarets:
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