TheHardTackle brings to you talking points from yesterday when all 20 Premier League sides locked horns, in the twentieth match day of the season.


Oscar’s Acrobatic Swimming Pool Dive?

Oscar was booked following a simulation in the box, by referee Mark Atkinson.  (Image courtesy-

Oscar was booked following a simulation in the box, by referee Mark Atkinson.
(Image courtesy-

The Chelsea manager who called Suarez, after a fair plea for a penalty, a player who tries too much, and labelled his falling to the ground “an acrobatic swimming pool dive” had his own player rightly booked by Mark Atkinson for simulating in the box and trying to get unfair advantage. Atkinson was remarkable in catching on to Oscar’s dive as commentators, spectators, pundits all thought that it was a penalty (in real time). After closely observing, it was evident that the Brazilian was ‘trying too much’ to get his side ahead in the match against Southampton. Oscar did however prove to be a super sub for Mourinho as he assisted two goals and scored the other in Chelsea’s convincing 3-0 thrashing of the Saints. When the Portuguese was later asked about what he thought of Oscar’s dive he credited Atkinson for rightly catching the Chelsea midfielder in the act, but defended Oscar at being a fair player who doesn’t simulate. He insisted that the Brazilian admitted to diving to him but felt that he would be latched on to by the Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, and went down in that expectation.

Suarez and Young examples of why bad pasts can lead to misfortune

Luis Suarez - Liverpool striker |

Suarez scored his 20th goal of the season, but was victim of some poor challenges that went unpunished

Luis Suarez has had a career, especially a Premier League career marred with controversy. The Uruguayan has done more than his share of unwanted things on the football field. But the 26 year old Liverpool forward has not done anything remotely controversial since coming back from his suspension after biting Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea. The player, who openly admitted to diving, has not simulated once this season. Yet, referees keep denying the talismanic Red because of his initial bad conduct and refuse to favour him.

In the match against Hull, there were several instances of Tigers defenders making rough challenges on the Uruguayan which would have otherwise been yellow or red cards. Alex Bruce, who was booked already for a challenge on Suarez, made a number of reckless ones even after his yellow, and successfully got away with it. Referee Craig Pawson ignored Suarez’s crying plees and chose to book the Liverpool man in the thirty ninth minute of complaining too much. Even if he technically meant it for Suarez’s challenge on Livermore, Pawson was increasingly annoyed by Suarez’s complaints, and it certainly looked like the yellow was for that. One could say that Suarez had the eventual say as he netted his 20th goal of the season (Suarez now has 20 goals in 15 games, a PL record), there were still several serious challenges on the man, which should have been bookings straight away but went unpunished. The fact that the 26 year old was not awarded penalties in the Chelsea match when there was clear cut contact in the box, twice, speaks about the bias referees have against the man. And while Suarez might have brought this on himself, these referees need to go home and look at these challenges again.

(FACT: Luis Suarez has been fouled 19 times in the last 3 games. This is 6 more times than any player in Europe)

Howard Webb did not award United a penalty after Ashley Yong was brought down by Hugo Lloris

Howard Webb denied United a penalty after Ashley Yong was brought down by Hugo Lloris

Ashley Young who is gaining quite a reputation of being a diver, could have got Manchester United to share the points with Tottenham Hotspurs. There was a clear cut two footed challenge on him by Hugo Lloris. It looked like a penalty for United and a red for Lloris. No matter how fast, or how slow you watch that challenge, it looks like a spot kick for the Red Devils. However, Howard Webb, chose to continue the match and not award the Manchester team a penalty. This might also have been the result of Danny Welbeck’s silumation in the box, which Webb caught on successfully. However, it is clear, that the reputation of Young along with the intensity of the last minutes and the fact that United was in a losing position made Howard Webb think otherwise.

(FACT: Howard Webb has not awarded a single penalty or a red card in this Premier League Season)

Mata shows frustration for the first time this season

Mata is free to leave Chelsea, according to boss Jose Mourinho

Mata is free to leave Chelsea, according to boss Jose Mourinho

It is a known fact that Juan Mata has not been Jose Mourinho’s choice player in the Chelsea starting lineup. The Spaniard has struggled to keep his place in the Chelsea first team. The fact that the Chelsea boss has a number of players to choose from in that attacking role means that no one can be sure of their spot, but Mata in particular, has fallen behind the ranks. The Spaniard has been instrumental for the Blues in the last two seasons. That does not seem to be the case now as Willian, Oscar and Hazard are forming a threatening looking partnership. However, we hadn’t seen something which showed Mata’s own frustration. That has been remedied. After his substitution in the 53rd minute, when the match was still locked in a stalemate, the Chelsea No.10 ignored his manager while walking back, marched to the bench and then slammed a seat in anger (Mata was in fact substituted by Oscar who led the team to their victory at St. Mary’s). While Mourinho said that Mata’s frustration was at the tied scoreline, he has admitted to the possibilty of the Spaniard’s departure:

“I want to keep him, I don’t want him to go. That’s my wish but my door is open and the club’s door is open too”

Lord Bendtner to Arsenal’s rescue

Bendtner scored the all important goal for Arsenal

Bendtner scored the all important goal for Arsenal

Nicklas Bendtner has been the victim of jokes and mockery by every Premier League fan, Arsenal fans alike. He certainly proved to be the difference in the match as it was he who broke the deadlock in the 88th minute. While Theo Walcott ensured Arsenal get the three points by wrapping it up in the 90th minute with a sublime chip, it was Bendtner’s goal that gave Arsenal the up. Cardiff who had defended superbly well so far, to the pleasing eye of owner Vincent Tan and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, simply lost their desire and conceded the second goal. The Dane injured himself in the process and is apparently out for weeks. Arsenal’s victory makes sure they are on top of the table.

Agent Assaidi helps Liverpool climb back up

Liverpool's loanee Assaidi scored his third third goal for Stoke in the Premier League

Liverpool’s loanee Assaidi scored his third third goal for Stoke in the Premier League

Oussama Assaidi, the Liverpool loanee, helped Liverpool climb back in the top 4, by scoring a goal for Stoke City against Everton. The Morrocan sent a thundering goal past the helpless Tim Howard from outside of the box. It was proving to be the goal that helps Mark Hughes get the three points, but a stupid foul by Jermaine Pennant (who was brought on for Jonathan Walters) on Leon Osman got Everton a penalty, and Leighton Baines was never going to miss that. This meant a share of spoils for Mark Hugh’s men who did much of the good work in the match but it enabled Everton to slip down below Merseyside rivals Liverpool to the fifth spot, who had won their home match against Hull.

(FACT: It was Assiaidi’s winning goal against Chelsea on 7th December which helped Liverpool climb above Chelsea in the table and five points behind leaders Arsenal) 

Big Sam slam’s captain Kevin Nolan, says “Nolan’s mentality not right”

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce slammed Nolan's "irresponsible" behavior. (by Wiki)

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce slammed Nolan’s “irresponsible” behavior. (by Wiki)

Fulham and West Ham faced each other in the match which would get either of the sides out of the bottom three, with a win. Mohamed Diame scored early on to give the fans some hope but the Hammers conceded in the 32nd minute and the score was tied at 1-1 at half-time. Fulham got the three points at home with a Dimitar Berbatov scoring the winning goal in the 66th minute.  The highlight of the match for Big Sam would be captain Kevin Nolan getting sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Fernando Amorebieta. It was right before half time and gave Fulham the belief of getting away with all three, with the Hammers down to ten men and Mark Noble injured. The West Ham captain should have acted with more responsibility and not made that reckless and senseless challenge. Sam Allardyce was clearly unhappy with his skipper and commented:

“”Our captain was irresponsible. He’s let everyone down and himself. I have to find out what’s wrong with him because his mentality is not right at the minute”