Time for clubs
to act on the antics
By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
When I was a player, we used to consider diving and
cheating to be a foreign disease.
We took pride in our league being different to those abroad.
We knew what to expect when we played in Europe, but there
was an unofficial code of conduct in this country.
The events at Stamford Bridge on Sunday underlined how
things have changed and the cynical behaviour we used to
associate with European clubs has crept into English
Arjen Robben's conduct should prove a watershed.
It would be easy for me to call on the FA to throw the book
at the Dutchman and make an example of him, but I'd prefer
to go down another route first.
The first thing I'd say is Pepe Reina has only himself to
blame for the red card. As Rafa Benitez said, his goalkeeper
made a mistake. When you raise your hands, you're always
vulnerable to a dismissal. Personally, I wouldn't appeal
against the decision.
But I'd like to see fellow professionals and managers
condemn Robben's role in the red card.
There's no question he reacted in order to get Reina sent
off. With his side 2-0 up and the game won, that's nothing
short of disgraceful. In this case, I don't see how any word
other than 'cheat' is appropriate for what he did.
Football has a duty to become self-policing on such an
issue. When a player dives, I'd like to see his own
team-mates yelling at him to get up and stop acting. I know
there will be people in his own dressing room disgusted as
much as the rest of us.
I'd like to hear a manager criticise the actions of his
player when he's blatantly over-reacting. This is the real
solution. Let's embarrass the culprits so much, they're
reluctant to ever do the same again.
If the clubs and players can't sort themselves out, the FA
If Chelsea aren't prepared to criticise Robben, the FA would
be entitled to look at the incident again.
The so-called compliance unit looks at matters of
indiscipline, and surely Robben's behaviour comes under that
If deliberately getting a player sent off isn't bringing the
game into disrepute, what is?
Reina is banned for three games, but if Robben was suspended
for one, you might see him think twice before pulling off a
stunt like that again.
There were countless examples of players raising their arms
to opponents on Sunday. Both Reina and Kewell took slight
blows to their face, but neither reacted like Robben.
The referee saw the contact but had no idea of its force. He
had to make his judgement based on the player's reaction.
When he looks at the replay, he'll conclude his decision to
send Reina off was understandable, but he'll also know he
Either the players must sort themselves out to stamp such
incidents out, or the FA must do it for them.
Reina: Arjen deserves Oscar
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has branded Chelsea
winger Arjen Robben an actor who deserves an Oscar for his
performance at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
But Robben has hit back, claiming: "I wasn't the one who
Spaniard Reina was shown the red card for pushing Dutchman
Robben in the face nine minutes from time in Chelsea's 2-0
Liverpool decided not to appeal against referee Alan Wiley's
decision, which caused a storm of controversy because of
Robben's theatrical reaction to the goalkeeper's tame push.
It means Reina will serve an automatic three-match
suspension, starting with Wednesday's Premiership encounter
with Charlton at The Valley. The ban will also include
Saturday's early afternoon kick-off against Wigan at the JJB
Stadium, and the Anfield showdown with Arsenal on February
"I am furious with Robben for what happened. My red card was
unjust, which makes it so sad for me," Reina told the Daily
"Robben is a big actor and he did well enough to win an
Oscar. I would never hit out at another player and hurt them
in the way Robben suggested by collapsing.
"Robben is an excellent player but he was deceitful with the
way he behaved.
"He exaggerated what happened and therefore forced the
referee to send me off. If we had been at Anfield, I would
never have got a red card.
"There was also a lot of pressure from the crowd. My
team-mates feel the same and are very angry.
"This has now harmed the team in the championship because at
the moment we need all our players available and I will now
be banned for three games."
But Robben is stunned he is being blamed and, according to
the Daily Mail, told Dutch television: "Reina was the one
who got carried away, not me. He made a crazy challenge on
Eidur (Gudjohnsen) over by the touchline and I told him so
when he ran past on his way back to the goal.
"I can't remember the exact words I used, but it was
something along the lines of 'That was a stupid thing to do,
"The next thing I know, he swings round and reacts with his
"I don't see how I can be blamed for that. I wasn't the one
who lost control.
"I don't think people from Liverpool should be talking about
me, either. They should be having a look at themselves."
By Alan Hansen - Match of the Day pundit and BBC Sport
Arjen Robben has been heavily condemned for his
over-reaction to the push which saw Liverpool goalkeeper
Pepe Reina sent off in their defeat at Chelsea - and rightly
I am a great believer in the rule that says if you raise
your hands in a game you are in serious trouble, so I am not
mounting any defence for Reina.
But this wouldn't be the first time Robben has done
something like this, so we can hardly say it is out of
This is a continental trait. The foreign imports have
brought many great things to our game, with their skill and
technical ability, but they have also brought bad things.
One of those is going down as if you have been shot when
no-one has actually touched you.
In a time when a debate is raging about bung culture in
football, this is another seedy side of the game and now is
the time for referees and football authorities to act.
I would be in favour of retrospective punishment for players
who are guilty of clearly feigning, or deliberately
attempting to get another player into trouble.
We can all watch incidents we regard as 50-50, but in an
open and shut case then I would be comfortable with
disciplinary action being taken.
In front of a big crowd and the television cameras, Robben's
reaction was disgraceful.
If he stays on his feet or has a laugh and a joke with Reina
about the incident, who knows what would have happened?
This was the worst possible reaction.
Sadly, I am afraid it is the result of the growing
continental influence on our game.
If you played in European competition 20 or 30 years ago,
you always had to be wary. I'm not talking about raising
hands, I'm talking about tackling. The slightest push or
contact and they would go tumbling to the ground.
In the last 10 years it has escalated in this country. It
has certainly caught on and the penalties and rewards for
success and failure are so great that more people are doing
It is time the authorities got a grip on it, and if you have
players going down clutching their throat when they have
hardly been touched, then I would advocate bringing in some
sort of system to combat it.
This behaviour is bad for everybody, players and supporters
- and anything that reduces it, or eradicates it has got to
As for the game itself, Liverpool dominated large portions
as they did in their defeat at Manchester United, but still
The goals return from Liverpool's three strikers, Djibril
Cisse, Fernando Morientes and Peter Crouch, has just not
been good enough.
Liverpool have scored 30 goals in 23 Premiership games, and
if you are team with designs on the Premiership you can
forget it with that strike rate.
The moment that summed up Liverpool came early in the second
half when Steven Gerrard delivered the most invititing of
crosses into the six-yard area and no striker was in close
It wasn't as if Gerrard had broken clear and the strikers
could not reach it - they just didn't react.
Rest assured if Hernan Crespo had been playing for Liverpool
that would have been a goal.
This is why Liverpool have signed Robbie Fowler. When all
debates about his fitness are over one thing is certain - he
will always find the net.
Last season I often suggested the one thing Chelsea lacked
was a natural goalscorer, with Crespo out on loan at AC
Milan, now he is back and providing that cutting edge.
Sadly, on a day when Chelsea showed they will be champions
again, it is the actions of Arjen Robben that have claimed
Mourinho avoids war of words
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho refused to become embroiled
in a war of words with Rafael Benitez after the Liverpool
manager accused Dutch winger Arjen Robben of deliberately
diving to get goalkeeper Jose Reina sent off.
Reina was dismissed nine minutes from time for pushing
Robben in the face and now faces a three-match ban.
Liverpool have already confirmed they are to appeal against
referee Alan Wiley's decision but Mourinho, who watched his
side win 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, was not interested in
replying to Benitez's accusations.
Instead he preferred to dwell on a game that has taken his
side one giant step closer to their second successive title.
"I am not interested in what Benitez has said," declared
"I have just finished a big game, a game that we won and
played very well. A game that we should have won three or
four to zero.
"A game where we scored one of the most beautiful goals in
the Premiership this season and the referee didn't allow it.
A game that leaves us in the countdown to be champions.
"We need eight victories and when we get the next one, we go
back to seven and to six and to five. A game that gave us
the 50th victory in the Premiership in the last one and a
"A game that out of nine against Liverpool in this period,
we lost one. A game that proved we are the best team in the
country and so I am happy with all things.
"Why should I comment on Rafa's words? He can say what he
wants but sometimes we say things without thinking,
especially after we lose.
Rafa: Is Robben in hospital?
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez has launched a scathing attack on the
theatrics of Chelsea winger Arjen Robben for the incident
that saw Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina sent-off during the
Reds' 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Benitez did not condone Reina's reaction when he touched
Robben, but felt Chelsea's Dutch international made a meal
out of the situation.
"I'm in a hurry and I must go to the hospital to see how
Robben is, he could be in hospital for a week," commented
"It's a crazy situation. Reina made a mistake when he was
provoked and touched Robben on the face, but has he broken
his neck? I don't understand why you can kick everyone in a
game then you touch one player and you are sent-off.
"What sort of professional would do that to another
professional knowing he could make him miss three matches?"
Liverpool are likely to appeal against the decision which is
set to rule Reina out of the coming matches against
Charlton, Wigan and Arsenal.
"On the game itself we created chances in the first half but
we made a mistake from a corner and we paid the price for
it. Chelsea are a good team and played good counter
attacks," added the manager.
"What we need to do is score more goals from the chances we
create. In the first half we played well but as soon as we
made the mistake Chelsea could play the game as they wanted.
They're a good side."
Crespo see off Liverpool
BBC Sport Online
Chelsea's quality of finishing proved the difference as
they beat rivals Liverpool to move 15 points clear at the
William Gallas put Chelsea ahead when he diverted in a close
range shot after Ricardo Carvalho's brave header.
Liverpool created some promising openings but failed to take
Hernan Crespo drove in an angled shot to seal Chelsea's win
before Reds keeper Jose Reina was red-carded for shoving
Arjen Robben in the face.
The two teams were meeting for the fourth time this season
and predictably the familiarity resulted in the usual cagey
But it was Liverpool who wrestled the early superiority of
the game after creating the first chance.
Steven Gerrard whipped in a corner to the near post where
the unmarked Jamie Carragher failed to catch his header
properly from six yards and the home defence cleared.
Liverpool were troubling the Chelsea defence with their
balls into the box and Sami Hyypia headed wide from another
corner while Peter Crouch nodded over from a John Arne Riise
And, after Crouch again headed over again when Hyypia nodded
a free-kick across goal, Chelsea took advantage of their
Ironically, the goal came from their first corner with
Gallas swivelling to turn Carvalho's header into the Reds
Joe Cole should have done better than put an angled rive
into the side-netting after dispossessing Stephen Warnock.
Liverpool were once more left breathing a sigh of relief
after Reina spilled John Terry's header with Crespo being
ruled offside after sliding in the loose ball.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser with Gerrard seeing
his well-struck drive parried by keeper Petr Cech.
But any hopes the Reds had of levelling were all but ended
when Crespo was played on side by Warnock and lashed in an
Liverpool's misery was compounded when Reina was sent-off
for a push on Robben.
Robben seemed to make more of the incident than appeared
necessary as he fell to the ground before a stormy clash
between both sets of players.
But it did not affect Chelsea as they eased to their 50th
Premiership win under manager Jose Mourinho.