Football Digest: Pochettino ruthlessly exiles three players from Chelsea HQ
Chelsea supporters have been left fuming by Anthony Taylor’s appointment to referee their Premier League opener on Sunday. Mauricio Pochettino’s side were already in store for a tough afternoon against Liverpool, and fans’ rocky history with Taylor – which includes a petition to ban him from Blues games – has convinced many that it may not be their day.
One furious Chelsea supporter started the petition in August last year. Since then, it has staggeringly amassed more than 160,000 signatures following a string of decisions which left the Blues feeling hard done by.
Taylor’s most controversial moments while officiating Chelsea games include a questionable sending off issued to Mateo Kovacic in the FA Cup final, and a stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta by Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso, which went unpunished.
A social media frenzy ensued when it emerged that Taylor will be the man in the middle on Sunday, when Pochettino will look to get his Chelsea reign off to the perfect start.
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“Wow! The FA has an agenda against us because every single time, he refs our match against Liverpool,” wrote @1hhamza on Twitter. “We always play against 12 men when he refs.” Meanwhile, @Cfc_Shikamaru added: “I swear the Premier League has something against us. What a way to start the campaign.”
Many are convinced that Taylor takes charge of Chelsea matches more often than other referees, with @tovers98 writing: “After his long history of controversy and howling mistakes, I don’t understand why PGMOL keep doing it. It always seems to be our biggest games.”
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Both Chelsea and Liverpool have made significant squad changes so far this summer in an attempt to break back into the top-four. Jurgen Klopp’s side wound up fifth in 2022/23, while the Blues spluttered to a humbling 12th-place finish.
Chelsea fans were already wounded when the news of Taylor’s appointment broke on Tuesday. Summer signing Christopher Nkunku underwent knee surgery this week after sustaining damage to his meniscus in pre-season.
With the injury far worse than first thought, Nkunku is reportedly set for more than three months on the sidelines. The Frenchman was one of Pochettino’s main attacking threats in the Blues’ recent string of friendlies.
Chelsea have a sizeable list of items on their to-do list before next month’s transfer deadline, with fans poised for a frenetic end to the window in west London.
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