Former referee Graham Poll explains why Chelsea are an easy target

Ex-Premier League referee Graham Poll says Chelsea's problems with picking up bookings for diving are of their own making.

Cesc Fabregas was tripped by Matt Targett during a Premier League meeting with Southampton on Sunday and should have been awarded a penalty, of that there is no doubt.

The Blues midfielder was, however, booked for diving by Anthony Taylor and Jose Mourinho’s table-toppers were held to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.

This is not the first time, though, that a member of the Stamford Bridge ranks has been cautioned for simulation this season.

Branislav Ivanovic, Diego Costa and Willian have all endured a similar fate, with Chelsea having picked up an unfortunate reputation among top-flight referees.

That is now working against them and ex-official Graham Poll believes they only have themselves to blame for the struggles they are now enduring.

He wrote in the Daily Mail: “Chelsea have been criticised a lot of late for their players simulating offences; most recently Branislav Ivanovic on Boxing Day against West Ham.

“Prior to that Willian and Diego Costa were both cautioned for simulation against Hull and Gary Cahill should have been and I can only conclude that Taylor was affected by this ‘previous’.

“Select group referees meet up regularly and discuss issues and trends to prepare as best they can for their next assignments. Preparation is perfectly acceptable but prejudgment is not.

“Chelsea remain top and by definition are still the best team in the league so far; they deserve better from the officials but also need to acknowledge that they have contributed to this problem themselves.”

Costa also picked up a yellow card on the opening weekend against Burnley, when he took a tumble inside the box.

Mourinho has been left fuming at the lack of big decisions being given in favour of his side, with Chelsea battling opponents and match officials.

Poll makes a good point, though, with a number of players down the years having paid the price for on-field theatrics, with referees reluctant to reward those with a reputation for trying to bend the rules.

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