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Penalty puzzle

After our draw with Southampton on Sunday, Jose Mourinho was asked by the media if his team would get another penalty in the league before the end of the season.

That was after Branislav Ivanovic was denied a clear spot-kick when his leg was scraped from behind as he charged into the box.

We were of course the recipient of a spot-kick in our last European encounter, when PSG’s Thiago Silva obviously handled in the area, but Champions League referees have spotted penalty incidents throughout, with four also given our way in the group stage.

It is in our 28 Premier League games this season where we have been awarded just two penalties. Both were for infringements on the league’s most-fouled player, Eden Hazard, and both were in home London derbies, against Arsenal and QPR respectively. The most recent was four-and-a-half months ago.

Historically, this figure seems abnormally low.

In the Double-winning 2009/10 campaign, when we were the country’s outstanding attacking team, we were awarded 12 league penalties. Those fouled included Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Yury Zhirkov, Salomon Kalou, Branislav Ivanovic (pictured below) and Nicolas Anelka. The following year, when we finished second, we were given eight spot-kicks.

Even in our sixth-placed 2011/12 campaign, our lowest league finish under the current ownership, the Blues were the recipient of five penalties (plus seven more in other competitions including in the victorious Champions League and FA Cup runs). There were 11 league penalties the following year when we came third.

Last season, Jose Mourinho’s first back at Stamford Bridge, we were awarded seven spot-kicks in the league, for fouls on Eden Hazard, Oscar (pictured below), Ramires, Samuel Eto’o (twice), Fernando Torres and Mohamed Salah.

So this season’s tally of two unquestionably bucks the recent trend yet our position as clear league leaders and second-highest scorers suggests we can’t be labelled anything other than an attacking side, spending plenty of time in the opposition box.

Our two closest challengers in the Premier League this season, Manchester City and Arsenal, have both been awarded seven penalties – the most in the division. City have only scored one goal more than Chelsea and Arsenal two less. 

Last term, the two teams that finished above us in the league – Man City and Liverpool – were awarded more penalties than any other team bar us.

Of course, it could be that when teams have played the league leaders they have been particularly careful inside their own area. We all have plenty of recollections suggesting this is not the case however.

From the first half of our very first league game, at Burnley, a number of key penalty-box decisions have not gone our way, Diego Costa the victim that evening after being felled trying to round the keeper. He should have been awarded Shed End penalties against Liverpool and PSG recently, too. 

At Old Trafford in late October, both John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic were wrestled to the ground (above) as they tried to attack an in-swinging free-kick in front of the Stretford End. Cesc Fabregas was then cruelly booked (pictured top) after being tripped inside the area at Southampton and four days later Tottenham escaped after handling close to their own goal.

All those were before Sunday’s incident involving Ivanovic and the previous home game against Burnley when the right-back’s goalbound shot was infamously blocked by the clearest of raised arms.

Below is a list of the penalty numbers for this season so far, and the five campaigns before:

Premier League penalties awarded to Chelsea

2014/15 – 2

2013/14 – 7

2012/13 – 11

2011/12 – 5

2010/11 – 8

2009/10 - 12

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