Tom Bennett picks out the key talking points from the weekend’s refereeing performances in his latest column . . .
Assistants let Clattenburg – and Spurs – down
Tottenham 4 Man City 1
Ref: Mark ClattenburgEmbed from Getty Images
Mark Clattenburg’s assistants let him down badly at White Hart Lane on Saturday and overshadowed what was a superb display by a very young Spurs side. Missing the Kevin de Bruyne marginal offside was understandable, while even failing to spot that Harry Kane was lingering offside was forgivable, given that he looked comfortably on when Christian Eriksen’s free-kick came back off the bar.
But not flagging against Kyle Walker in the build-up to the equaliser was inexcusable – he was yards off and right in line with the official. City should still have dealt with the situation and prevented a goal, but it summed up a very poor afternoon for the assistants.
Grade: C. Clattenburg had a reasonable match, letting it flow well, but was horribly let down by his assistants.
Atkinson steps up under pressure
Newcastle 2 Chelsea 2
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Mike Dean’s horror show in the game last weekend had heaped the pressure on Martin Atkinson as he took charge of Chelsea’s match at Newcastle. But the official took it in his stride and flew impressively under the radar, giving both sets of supporters very little to complain about.
Jose Mourinho was going to complain about the referee regardless of his performance – given the nature of the last week at Chelsea – and accused Atkinson of slowing the game down. Maybe ask your players to foul less, Jose? Just a thought.
Grade: B. Hats off to Atkinson, this was a near flawless display in a game that threatened to bubble over at times.
Eagle-eyed Taylor excels
Watford 0 Crystal Palace 1
Ref: Anthony Taylor
The decision of the week came from Anthony Taylor at Vicarage Road. The game-deciding incident prompted incredulous looks from the Watford players, but Taylor got the call absolutely spot on.
Allan Nyom did foul Wilfried Zaha and, even though the ball was outside, the offence was committed just inside the area. Taylor saw the incident clearly, gave himself time to make the right decision, and even checked to see where there was divot in the turf at the point of impact – all of which combined to make it one of the more impressive penalty calls of the season to date.
The loss was tough on Watford, who played some good football and made Palace really work for the three points.
Grade: A. Taylor’s penalty decision was a superb spot and worthy of an A-grade on its own.
East gets a lucky break
Southampton 3 Swansea 1
Ref: Roger East
If this hadn’t been such a comfortable win for the Saints then the decision to award a penalty to Swansea late on would have been the talking point of the weekend.
Not because it was the wrong decision – Jose Fonte did go to ground inside the box, getting nowhere near making a clean challenge as he upended Neil Taylor. But because referee East should clearly have played an advantage. The ball was loose inside the box, the Southampton defence was in disarray, and – as it turned out – Eder did tuck the ball under the goalkeeper to score in any case.
By blowing his whistle so early and not letting the phase of play run its course, East forced Swansea to put the ball in the back of the net twice just to make sure of the goal.
Grade: D. Whistle-happy East made a mess of the penalty and is lucky that the game wasn’t closer.
Howe shows Hughes how it should be done
Stoke 2 Bournemouth 1
Ref: Lee Mason
Stoke boss Mark Hughes was not slow to lay into the referee after last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Leicester City, picking up on all number of minor incidents to try and find an excuse for his team’s collapse.
So isn’t it strange that Hughes had nothing to say about Lee Mason after this game?
The referee’s decision to award a free-kick against Glenn Murray late in the game was soft at best and directly led to Stoke’s winning goal.
And Murray was only on the pitch because Callum Wilson was forced off by a poor tackle. Outskilled by Wilson, Stoke full-back Philipp Wollscheid lunged in from behind and took out his standing leg, directly leading to an injury for the striker. It hardly matters that Wollscheid managed to get the tiniest hint of a toe to the ball – those sort of challenges are dangerous, cynical and the last resort of the less skilled. Mason should have shown a yellow, but didn’t.
It is to Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe’s great credit that he didn’t complain about the officials at the end of what must have been a thoroughly frustrating afternoon for him. If more managers followed Howe’s example rather than Hughes’ then maybe there wouldn’t be such an unpleasant culture for officials to have to deal with at all levels of the game.
Grade: C. It wasn’t a terrible performance by Mason, but he was inconsistent throughout and failed to punish Wollscheid for the tackle that has sidelined Wilson.
Follow Tom Bennett at @tommbennett