Didier Drogba is a 'world-class volleyball player', fumes Owen Coyle
Owen Coyle furiously described Didier Drogba as a "world-class volleyball player" after Chelsea survived two separate penalty appeals for blatant handballs.
With the game still goalless, Drogba used his fist to stop Matt Taylor’s free-kick from reaching Kevin Davies and then Chelsea captain John Terry also escaped punishment when he blocked Chung-Yong Lee’s second-half cross with his left arm.
Coyle was clearly seething and confronted referee Lee Probert on the final whistle to demand an explanation. “We didn’t need any luck - we only needed the officials to get the big decisions right,” said Coyle. “There were two stonewall penalties out there. I know Drogba is a world-class player, but Drogba could play world-class volleyball for anybody on that evidence.
“Then there’s the second one when John Terry handles it. The assistant referee says it hits his shoulder. He must have a shoulder that stretches down to his ankles if that’s the case. It’s a clear penalty. If he’s not in a good position, the referee has not been helped by his assistants.”
Probert’s decisions have certainly helped Chelsea to establish a major advantage in the Premier League title race and also follows the controversy that surrounded their FA Cup semi-final win over Aston Villa.
Coyle stopped short of claiming that the bigger clubs are consistently favoured by match officials but did pointedly remark that it was not the first time that Bolton have suffered this season. Against Arsenal at the Emirates in January, he was also unhappy that William Gallas stayed on the pitch following a dangerous tackle.
“I can’t recall any favourable decisions since I came to Bolton,” said Coyle. “Four points clear; if Chelsea continue to get those decisions then Carlo will be rubbing his hands and I’m sure they’ll be winning. Chelsea are big favourites.”
Both handballs could conceivably have merited red cards and Coyle’s anger would only have been compounded by the way Drogba then crossed for Nicolas Anelka’s goal.
Carlo Ancelotti claimed that he had not seen either handball but was adamant that Chelsea had merited their victory. “We had 21 shots, so we deserved to win — there’s no debate about this,” he said. “I don’t have a reaction to the penalty appeals. I maintain the same opinion: it’s not my job to judge the work of the referees. I trust in the referee.”
Chelsea now need 10 points from their remaining four matches to win a third Premier League league title in six years, although their superior goal difference should mean that three wins is enough.
“We have more possibility to win than, with respect, Manchester United and Arsenal but we are not sure,” said Ancelotti. “We have to play four tough games. We have a derby on Saturday against Tottenham which won’t be easy. We are excited but we know that we have to fight again and we’re ready to fight.”
Ancelotti also said it “was the time” for Anelka to score what was his first goal since January. Of Arsenal’s North London derby this evening against Tottenham, he added: “We don’t want to look at the other teams. Now the Premier League is in our hands and we have to stay focused and calm, play game by game. We are not interested in the results of the other teams.”