Should Chelsea have been awarded a first half penalty against Man Utd? Frank Lampard, Patrice Evra and the fouled player, Cesar Azpilicueta, have their say…
Despite a drab goalless draw at a sodden Old Trafford, there was a moment of controversy when Harry Maguire used Azpilicueta for leverage while clearing a Chelsea corner. He wrapped his arms around the Spaniard’s shoulders, pushing him down.
However, despite appearing to be a foul, referee Martin Atkinson waved away the claims from Azpilicueta and VAR did not review the decision. It was a big talking point after the game and Chelsea head coach Lampard was certain it was a penalty.
He told Sky Sports: “Without a doubt. I’m interested to see what everyone else says. I spoke to the lads about how many penalties they have got here over the last two seasons – they’re miles ahead in Europe.
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“It’s a really clear penalty – VAR is here to make those decisions. They’re not always easy on the eye straight away for referees on the pitch – I completely get it. But I don’t get why that wasn’t given.
“The referee gives it if he looks at the monitor because I don’t think he’d be able to explain not giving it. When you see the image and the headlock that he is in. It’s surprising and they have time to look at it. Sometimes they take time but they looked at this quickly and moved on. It’s really surprising.”
Azpilicueta echoed the feelings of his boss and also led the calls for the referee to used the pitchside monitor to inform his decision.
“On the pitch, I felt that it was [a penalty],” the Chelsea captain told Sky Sports. “I was in front of him and felt both arms around my neck and shoulders.
“For me, the referee can’t make the decision. The VAR is there and it’s difficult for the VAR to say yes or no. I told Martin Atkinson to go to the monitor. They are the men to make the decision, so he has to take the decision. The monitor is there for him to help. Sometimes it’s 50/50 – like I felt this was. Why not take 20 seconds to go and view it? It’s a little improvement from VAR moving forward.
“It happens and it’s football. Not every time there is a contact it should be a penalty. In England especially, you have strong contacts, physical contacts and it’s mainly if you don’t have the intention of playing the ball. I think football and especially in the Premier League with all the great players we have, we have to seek improvements. It’s not a criticism, we can all help together to make a better league.”
Even former Man Utd defender Patrice Evra agreed it should have been a penalty and once again, questioned the use of VAR.
He said: “It was wrestling. It’s a clear penalty. I can see that Azpilicueta didn’t want to say it in his interview but we have to talk about VAR. Football people need to be in charge of VAR. Everyone knows this is a penalty. As a United fan, I think it’s 100 per cent a penalty.
“Did I see any Chelsea player going to the ref and asking to check? No. Maybe they were too cautious to go. When you see that, the captain and players should go to the ref and ask him to check the VAR. (Azpilicueta said he did go and ask)
“Why do they check VAR for foul on Marcus Rashford and not for this one? I don’t understand. I am so confused by VAR.”
Ole: We were the closest to winning
United manager Ole Gunnar Solakjaer was pleased with how his side performed – arresting a run of two defeats at home in the Premier League this season – and believed his team were the closest to taking all three points.
“I think it was two teams who played in Europe this week, it showed a little bit in the first half and it was not the greatest,” he told Sky Sports.
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“In the second half, I think we pushed on and if that Stretford End was full, we might get some help and get that ball over the line. I think we pegged them back and created half-decent opportunities. It was a very good block from Thiago Silva [from an Edinson Cavani shot] and a great save from the ‘keeper – he made a couple of fantastic saves against Marcus [Rashford] – so all in all, a good defensive performance and we created enough big chances that could have given us a win.
“We all remembered what happened to us last time after Paris [Man Utd lost to Arsenal in the Premier League and Wolves in the FA Cup in their next two games] so it was important that we could show that we could play against a good team.
“We started sloppily but after about 20 minutes and the rest of the game, we kept more possession, we created some pressure on them without many big chances but the ones we got were big ones… Today, I thought we were the closest to winning.
“We have a clean sheet, we had some pressure, we stopped the home run of defeats. We wanted to win, of course you want to win at home but I think it’s a solid performance when you think of the week we’ve had. We’ve had a very good week with two wins and a draw.”
Lampard: Clean sheet shows progression
It was the second game in a row that Chelsea have kept a clean sheet – albeit without scoring – and Lampard was pleased with the defensive aspects of the performance.
He added to Sky Sports: “We’re happy with the clean sheet. You obviously want more than a point but to come to Man Utd, if you don’t concede, it’s a good base and I think that shows and it’s a progression for us.
“Was our game in the final third where we wanted it to be? No. I think that’s pretty understandable. At this level when you enter the final third, you want to make things happen a bit more and it didn’t come off for us today.
“There were passages of the game where we had control but not with enough penetration. There are things to improve on but we have to praise things that are good and defensively it was very good.
“The big man [Edouard Mendy] makes a couple of saves in goal, Thiago [Silva] was imperious, and showed his experience and quality and then Azpi next to him. They are good personnel in there, defending and making the right decisions. It’s a great thing for us.
“It’s a base but we want more. It’s not a beautiful thing going forward because we want more. We should certainly be happy with some of the things we’ve seen defensively now.”
Evra and Hasselbaink clash over performance
Evra was joined by former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the Sky Sports studio and the pair clash when discussing the game overall – you can click play on the video above to watch.
Former Man Utd defender Evra explained his stance, saying: “For United, I would say we kept a clean sheet, especially when there has been a lot of criticism of Lindelof and Maguire and they played a really good game. But I’m talking about the whole game – it was boring.
“If they had leaders in this Man Utd team, they wouldn’t play with fear. I don’t want to be harsh on them but they were coming from that heavy loss to Tottenham and I think they recovered so well against Newcastle, against PSG and today, I wanted to see United playing without fear, no matter if we concede goals. That’s my worry.”
Hasselbaink also said: “I want to see entertaining football but I understand why they play with five and why they are looking for a clean sheet because they need to gain confidence at the back. I want to see goals and people running forwards, but Chelsea are not there yet. They are improving step-by-step.
“They conceded three goals against West Brom and Southampton and it hurts your confidence a little bit so they should gain confidence from this defensively today. But now, it’s about the balance and how can we get the balance right with scoring goals and keeping cleans sheets.”
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