Former England striker Dean Ashton does not believe Chelsea are being unfairly targeted by Premier League referees following complaints that their players are trying to win penalties and free-kicks by diving.
Recently West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and Hull counterpart Steve Bruce have claimed Chelsea players were guilty of simulation by going to ground too easily.
But while Ashton does not go along with any conspiracy theory against the Blues – as argued by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – he does think Cesc Fabregas was unfairly booked at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Mourinho was angered at the decision by referee Anthony Taylor to book Fabregas at Southampton following a tackle by Matt Targett.
And after the match he claimed his players are being unfairly criticised by pundits, commentators and other managers, all of which he says is influencing the decision of the referee.
TV replays appear to support Mourinho at the weekend but under current laws the club cannot appeal to have Fabregas' yellow card rescinded.
Mourinho felt Fabregas should have been awarded a penalty, which was also the view of Ashton and Steve Howey when they appeared on The Morning View on Sky Sports News HQ on Tuesday.
Howey said: “I think it was a penalty. The lad loses his footing a little bit and slips into him and for me it’s a definite penalty.
“The ref, when he looks at it again, will realise it’s the wrong the decision and will be disappointed.”
Big strong centre-forwards shouldn’t being going down with such minimal contact.
And Ashton agreed: “The defender just slips and it was a penalty. And you can see from Targett's face afterwards that he knows it should have been a penalty.”
With regards to other high-profile incidents that have occurred this season involving Chelsea, both Ashton and Howey refute any suggestions that the Premier League leaders are being targeted by referees.
Diego Costa has already been booked twice for simulation this campaign, once on the opening day of the season against Burnley and also at home to Hull.
As for the Burnley yellow, Howey says: “It’s so-so difficult for refs at the moment. Players are so clever in what they are trying to do, leaving that foot dangling there and Costa’s gone down too easy so the booking was the right decision. And unfortunately it’s the same players doing this.”
Ashton said: “You’re talking about a six-foot, two-inch, big strong centre-forward who shouldn’t being going down with such minimal contact. But it’s so difficult for referees.”
Chelsea have now had four yellow cards issued for simulation this season – more than any other club (Costa (2), Willian and Fabregas) – and the former Crewe and West Ham striker thinks the referee got it right in the other three instances.
“There’s no conspiracy against Chelsea," said Ashton. “Jose is backing his players. He’s not going to say he’s gone down too easily. He will support his players but you’d like to think in the dressing room afterwards he’d say something to these players.”
Howey added: “All teams are trying to get the better of referees to gain an advantage for their team. Mourinho is a great deflector if things haven’t gone well for his team. They didn’t have a lot of shots on target against Southampton.”
But Ashton and Howey believe Mourinho is correct in wanting wrongful yellow cards rescinded. At present clubs can only appeal against red cards.
Ashton went on: “I can’t think it would take too long for a disciplinary panel to look at yellow cards at the same time they look at the reds.
“I can’t see why they can’t retrospectively rescind unfair yellow cards, as Costa could miss a game after getting five yellow cards when maybe one of these has been unfairly given. The FA should have the ability to do that.”