By Tom Bennett.
It was a strong week for the Premier League’s men in the middle . . . until Andre Marriner resumed normal service with his bumbling display at the Bridge.
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Oliver refuses to be intimidated
Ref: Michael Oliver
Michael Oliver has the air of a man who was relentlessly bullied at school, but he didn’t let the Crystal Palace fans push him around on Saturday evening. The Selhurst Park crowd felt that Oliver gave United a helping hand with a number of big decisions, but in truth Oliver got the big calls spot on.
Scott Dan did lean into Ashley Young’s cross with his hand, there wasn’t enough of a foul on Jason Puncheon to give a penalty, Ander Herrara would have been hard-done-by to give away a penalty for his handball in the area, and Chris Smalling did get sucked into a wrestling contest to give away the free-kick from which Puncheon scored.
The only slight blot on Oliver’s copybook was his failure to spot Radamel Falcao’s push that created the space for Marouane Fellaini’s back post header, but the ref would – fittingly – have needed eagle eyes to have spotted that.
Grade: B. It was an assured and commanding performance from a ref who rarely looks anything but.
Calamitous Chiriches makes it easy for Clattenburg
Ref: Mark Clattenburg
The absence of any natural full-back left Tottenham’s defence in disarray for this game, and the calamitous performances of the stand-in wide defenders made Mark Clattenburg’s job pretty straightforward at the Britannia.
Vlad Chiriches left the ref with little choice but to show him yellows for two clumsy challenges. The second yellow was arguably a little soft, but the Romanian had been on his final warning for some time.
Grade: B. There was little for Clattenburg to do as he prepares for the Barca-Bayern second leg.
Mason stays cool under pressure
Ref: Lee Mason
It was an afternoon of marginal decisions at Villa Park, but Lee Mason’s biggest success was clamping down on West Ham’s physical approach to allow the game to flow.
Mason missed Morgan Amalfitano’s petulant kick out, but the West Ham man did everything possible to make sure that nobody would notice, so the ref can hardly be blamed.
The big incidents saw Enner Valencia held in the box and not awarded a penalty, while the same player was adjudged offside when picked out in space in the box. Both calls were marginal, but Mason and his assistants got both spot on.
Grade: C. The niggly nature of the match made it tricky to control, but Mason did as well as could be expected.
Confusion reigns at Stamford Bridge
Ref: Andre Marriner
Andre Marriner was very happy to flash his cards, but not when it came to Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard should have been a straight red for his horror-tackle on Raheem Sterling in the first minute and even then should have been shown a second yellow for pulling back the same player later in the half.
Marriner seemed reluctant to reduce the Champions to ten, and made a complete hash of the opening minute incident. He wrongly identified John Obi Mikel as the player who made the challenge and then pulled out the wrong card, before finally getting to the bottom of the mess… with a little helping hand from the fourth official.
Grade: D. The Fabregas incident was a farce and Marriner struggled to regain his composure after that.
QPR ripped apart by Aguero
Ref: Mike Dean
The shambles that was QPR’s defence on Sunday showed just why the club are heading straight back to the Championship. City were fired up for the visit of Rangers, and Mike Dean had the easiest of rides as the visitors consistently left him with little to no option.
Richard Dunne did push Aleksandar Kolarov for the free-kick, David Silva was bundled over in the box for the penalty, and Charlie Austin was clearly offside when he tucked home what would have been a consolation.
The lack of protest over any of those decisions spoke volumes about the mind-set of QPR, who will do well if they manage to avoid an extended stay in the second tier.
Grade: B. Referees must dream of afternoons as straightforward as this one was for Dean.
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