Knives out for Clattenburg, but fans shocked by racism claim

Oct 29, 2012

Premier League talking points: ref faces racism claim, Suarez takes another dive

THE KNIVES are out for referee Mark Clattenburg after he sent off two Chelsea players during their defeat against Manchester United and was later accused of using "inappropriate language" to two other Chelsea players. There is also a grim inevitability about the fact that the allegations include one of racism. The reaction of fans on Twitter and club forums to Chelsea's complaints has been cautious and in some ways curious. Although refs are often the target of abuse and accusations of bias there appears to be an inbuilt belief that they are more honourable than players and would not stoop to racism. Of course, the allegations will be investigated and The Guardian reports that Clattenburg's career will be over if he is found guilty. As The Week comments today: "Such claims are the last thing football needs."

Is it possible for Luis Suarez to behave normally? The Liverpool striker was at the centre of attention yet again at Goodison Park, where he scored one goal, had a late winner disallowed, could have been sent off and produced one of the strangest goal celebrations of the season, no doubt designed to infuriate Everton manager David Moyes. The Toffees boss kept his cool after the Uruguayan ran over to the home dugout and bellyflopped to the turf, apparently in retaliation to comments made by Moyes about diving. The Scot admitted he thought it was "great". He was less impressed with Suarez's tackle on Syvlain Distin and said he was lucky to avoid a red card.

Jack Wilshere is back, but if Arsenal fans were hoping that his return would lead to a miraculous turnaround in the team's fortunes they would have been disappointed. The 20-year-old, who has been out for 17 months, was in surprisingly good nick and lasted more than an hour. Resuming his role in the Gunners midfield he completed 44 of his 47 passes, but when he left the field the score was still 0-0. Arsenal purists may be even more dismayed that by the time Mikel Arteta somehow scrambled the ball over the line in the 84th minute, QPR were down to ten men and the Gunners' forward line was made up of Andrei Arshavin, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

Another limp display from Manchester City has only increased speculation that Roberto Mancini's days at the Etihad are numbered. Victory came courtesy of a long-range effort from Carlos Tevez, and the Citizens looked nothing like reigning Premier League champions. Adding to the pressure on Mancini is the arrival of a new director of football, in the form of former Barcelona sporting director, Txiki Begiristain. But although the vultures appear to be circling, The Times points out that City remain unbeaten in the league, have won four league matches on the trot and are only one point behind leaders Chelsea.

The trees are losing their leaves and the clocks have gone back, which can only mean that the season proper is now well underway. And it looks like it's going to be a long and cold winter for the Premier League's bottom three. Reading and QPR are both still without a win this season, while Southampton have conspired to lose all but two of their opening nine games, while conceding 26 goals. Sunderland, Wigan, Norwich and Aston Villa will also be feeling anxious about the dark days ahead. It seems likely that the three teams to go down will come from that group of seven.

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