Naive defending will always trigger soft penalties in the Premier League

In this weekend’s game between Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers there was another soft penalty awarded. But Norwich City won’t mind because it enabled them to grab a draw out of a game, they didn’t play particularly well in.

However, it does seem this season that referees are awarding an alarmingly high number of soft penalties. Norwich City themselves were victim of this early on in the season when they found themselves conceding a penalty in all of their opening five games. As a rule the bigger clubs tend to get the big decisions and when you’re struggling in this division you tend to have no luck at all.

But that all being said, sometimes players do not help themselves. At the start of the season Norwich City was unlucky, but they were also naive in the way they defended. The same can be said on Blackburn Rovers surrounding the events which resulted in the penalty kick on Saturday.

 According to Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean his player Stephen N’Zonzi was appealing for a foul which is why he had his arms out in the air. His defence seems to be that he wasn’t looking at the ball when it hit his arm and the handball was therefore unintentional.

Paul Merson claims it is the worst decision he has ever seen. If that is the case I would suggest Mr Merson needs to get out and watch more football. As Norwich City fans we have seen League One, Championship and Premier League referees in recent seasons. And we have certainly seen far worse decisions than the one we saw on Saturday.

A player diving in the box with no contact or someone accused of handball when they head the ball out are surely far worse decisions. As much as we are all frustrated by referees, please understand that we are seeing the elite in the Premier League. There is clearly a big, big difference between a League One referee and a Premier League referee. However, they are still human, and they still make mistakes.

Watching the game from the stands as a Norwich fan, we were all claiming for that decision. And had it happened down the other end then the Blackburn fans would all be claiming for a penalty to. To be fair to the referee in real time, it looks a penalty.

The real issue here, though, is what the hell is Stephen N’Zonzi doing? Play is ongoing and he is supposed to be defending for his team. Leave the decisions to the referee and his assistants. I’m sure though he feels the irony of the fact that by appealing for a free kick, he has inadvertently given away a penalty.

The bottom line is players need to wise up and play the game sensibly. Don’t lean into a striker when he is through on goal and be surprised when he dives for a penalty, and don’t throw your arms in the air and be surprised when a penalty is awarded. Referees have a hard job out there so players need to ensure that they don’t look guilty, even when they’re not.

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