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Bullied out of the game



Yesterday evening, in the London derby, Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 in a game that saw Arsenal finish the game with nine men after Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were both sent off during the game. While Santi Cazorla's sending off was not in question, Gabriel's sending off was mired in controversy. It is perhaps fair to say that Gabriel was literally bullied out of the game by 'bar-room-brawler' Diego Costa.

Diego Costa, doing what he always does, was looking to rile up the opposite defender, Laurent Koscielny, and ended up chest-bumping him to the ground. While Koscielny managed to not take the bait, his defensive partner, Gabriel, couldn't resist. The resulting fight (of sorts) lead to both Diego Costa and Gabriel picking up yellow cards.

This shifted Diego Costa's attention from Koscielny to Gabriel as he continued to have words with the defender, finally goading him to back-heel him with his studs, right under referee Mike Dean's nose. Needless to say, Mike Dean had seen enough to pull out his red card and show it to Gabriel. And this rightly enraged everyone from Arsene Wenger to the millions of fans watching the game back home.

Jose Mourinho has always valued points over elegance and has prioritized them in that order. This is reflected in his post-match conference when he commented that Diego Costa put on a man-of-the-match performance and that emotion he brings to the game is one of the reasons why people from all over the world watch the game.

I'm a Chelsea fan of over ten years, so naturally my opinion will be biased towards the team, but I feel Arsenal fans are just sour when they ask for retrospective action on Diego Costa. In my opinion, what he did was very similar to the play-acting that we see ever so often. People dive and roll around on the ground with the intention of getting the person who made (or didn't) the tackle booked and sent off. What Diego Costa did was no different. At least in this case, Gabriel had the option to exercise control and not take the bait.

Peter Thiel talks about monopolies in his bestseller, Zero To One, making a case that unless someone is a monopoly at what they do, they are forced to solve for existential problems and don't get the opportunity to take on bigger leaps and focus on elegance. Chelsea were in a similar position last night, where three points was of the biggest concern and elegant football took a back-seat.

Nonetheless, some attractive attacking football was played until Gabriel got sent off and Zouma scored soon after.

With Machester City having lost at home to West Ham, there is now hope of closing down the points gap and returning the focus to more expansive football.

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