Tom Bennett picks out the key talking points from the weekend’s refereeing performances in his latest column . . .
Newcastle v Arsenal
Ref: Andre Marriner
Marriner keeps his head as the Toon lose theirs
Such was the ferocity of the booing at St James’ Park at half-time that you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Newcastle United had been undone by an appalling refereeing performance. The reality was nothing of the sort.
Newcastle came out of the gate way too fired up and the decision to send off Aleksandar Mitrovic wasn’t “harsh” – as Steve McClaren tried to suggest – but absolutely correct.
He was high, over the ball, and came down studs-first on the shin. Those sort of challengers are leg-breakers.
Andre Marriner also did well not to over-react when Moussa Sissoko went in hard, as that one was studs-down – if still very much worth a yellow.
If anything, Newcastle got the rub of the green from the ref, avoiding a definite penalty when Marriner missed Hector Bellerin being tripped up inside the box.
Grade: B. Marriner should have given a penalty to Arsenal, but kept his head well in the face of such furious criticism from the home fans.
Stoke v West Brom
Ref: Michael Oliver
Card-happy Oliver still gets it about right
Mark Hughes couldn’t believe that two of his players were sent off, but Michael Oliver was probably okay to show a red on the first occasion, and definitely right on the second.
Ibrahim Afellay was stupid to react to Craig Gardner’s niggling clip around the ear, but raising his hands in retaliation gave the referee a decision to make. Craig Gardner’s embarrassing play-acting and Darren Fletcher’s unpleasant screams for a red card didn’t help Oliver, but he maybe could have shown a little bit more leniency. However, Afellay can have few complaints, simply due to his stupidity.
Charlie Adam is an unpleasant footballer who has consistently looked to hurt opposition players throughout his career. That isn’t a nice thing to say, but the evidence is stacking up, and his sneaky stamp was well spotted by the assistant to help Oliver make the correct call.
Grade: B. Oliver was maybe quick to show the first red, but certainly got the second spot-on.
Liverpool v West Ham
Ref: Kevin Friend
Kevin is nobody’s Friend
Philippe Coutinho can have few complaints about his red card, despite his manager calling it “very harsh”. His first booking was completely needless and once on a yellow he should have known better than to lunge in to a tackle that he had little hope of making.
However, Mark Noble can expect to have his red rescinded after clearly winning the ball. In fairness to Friend, he had blown his whistle already and the tackle looked out of control, but replays showed that it wasn’t dangerous at all and Noble was right to be bemused.
Grade: D. The Coutinho decision was understandable, but Friend got it wrong with Noble.
Villa v Sunderland
Ref: Robert Madley
We woz (not) robbed!
“Why would he go down?” asked Tim Sherwood of the Carles Gil non-penalty incident. And that is indeed the question . . . but not quite in the way that ‘Tactics Tim’ meant.
Gil had a great chance to win the game for Villa, so why did he decide to collapse to the ground in search of a penalty? It wasn’t a spot-kick and – for the ridiculousness of the decision to dive at all – Gil deserved his booking for simulation.
Villa did, however, get a definite penalty when Lee Cattermole attempted to piggy-back around the area on Scott Sinclair. Precisely why the Sunderland midfielder seemed so aggrieved at the decision remains a mystery.
Grade: A. Madley got the big calls spot-on, despite being under huge pressure from the hosts.
Swansea v Man Utd
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Home help for Swans
Swansea seemed to get everything as Martin Atkinson bowed to the pressure of the crowd, helping unsettle an already poor Manchester United side.
However, the visitors had no reason to feel aggrieved when Wayne Rooney’s penalty appeals were turned down in the second half. It wasn’t a foul and Rooney really should have been embarrassed that he gave Ashley Williams any chance to get back to him and make a challenge at all.
Grade: C. Atkinson was a ‘homer’, but it didn’t impact on the result too much.
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