Ref Review: Pulis furious, Arsenal benefit and Chelsea feel hard done by…again

The games have all been played, the results are all in, and the players’ performances have been rated in every newspaper in the land. But what about the referees? Alex Vryzakis analyses the performances of the men with the whistles…

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Lenient Clattenburg loses respect

Game: Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool

Ref: Mark Clattenburg

Though it was Jose Mourinho who was left fuming after Chelsea’s clash with Liverpool, both managers had the right to feel aggrieved following a blighted refereeing performance. Clattenburg managed well throughout much of the feisty clash, but let himself down badly on two blatantly red card-worthy incidents.

The first came as Martin Skrtel and Diego Costa wrestled for the ball in the centre circle, eventually ending up in a heap. Slow-motion replays clearly showed Costa kicking out at Skrtel’s midriff, though the defender barely acknowledged the attempted kick. With Clattenburg barely five feet away, Costa should have been shown a red card for dangerous play. Amazingly, though, the referee watched on stoically as the players shook hands.

A few minutes later Ramires was cynically brought down by the collaborative efforts of Lucas Leiva and Emre Can, both of whom were on yellow cards. Leiva’s in particular stood out as he had only just been booked for a rather nasty tackle on Jon Obi Mikel. Again, Clattenburg chose to give nothing as Mourinho looked on incredulously from the sidelines. For once, at least, he wasn’t wrong to feel hard done by.

Grade: C. Both incidents were deserving of red cards, and letting Costa’s dangerous behaviour slide was a bizarre decision by Clattenburg

Madley redeems himself

Game: Man City 2-1 Norwich

Ref: Robert Madley

Madley could not have asked for a better match to officiate after his nightmare at Sunderland last week. City’s clash with Norwich was a quiet affair, one that only really came to life in the last 10 minutes.

After a blunder by John Ruddy in Norwich’s goal, Madley was left with no option other than to send off Russell Martin for using his arm to stop Raheem Sterling’s looping shot from going in. As the incident occurred in the box, a penalty was also rightly awarded. Minutes later, a tired Robbie Brady brought down Sterling in the box and, again, the referee was right to award a penalty.

Grade: B+. The incidents could not have been more clearcut.

Friend flounders at the Liberty

Game: Swansea 0-3 Arsenal

Ref: Kevin Friend

Though Arsenal emerged 3-0 winners against Garry Monk’s Swansea side, there was an element of controversy about the win, with referee Kevin Friend not exactly covering himself in glory.

Midway through the first half, Swansea were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box after Jefferson Montero was brought down unfairly by a gaggle of Arsenal players. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick then appeared to be blocked by Per Mertesacker’s arm, though Friend adjudged that no foul had been committed. Unfortunately for Friend, replays made it obvious that the German had intentionally raised his arm, and Swansea should have been awarded a penalty at a crucial point in the game.

Arsenal’s second goal was similarly controversial, as Laurent Koscielny appeared to back into Lukasz Fabianski, seemingly causing the Pole to miss the ball entirely. It would be fair to say that Friend should be given the benefit of the doubt in this instance, though, as incidents involving goalkeepers tend to be subjective.

Grade: C. Not awarding Swansea the penalty was a crucial mistake.

Pulis incredulous after Taylor display

Game: West Brom 2-3 Leicester

Ref: Antony Taylor

In a match that saw Jamie Vardy score for the eighth game in a row, Taylor produced a less than stellar performance. West Brom were denied two obvious penalty decisions that could have changed the face of the game entirely.

The first incident saw Leonardo Ulloa pull on Jonny Evans’ shirt so hard that the defender was dragged to the ground. Taylor saw nothing wrong and waved play on. The second incident saw Robert Huth crash into Darren Fletcher from behind, causing the midfielder to crash to the floor. Again, Taylor ignored the home team’s pleas. There was never any possibility of play-acting on the part of the West Brom players, making it all the more difficult to understand Taylor’s erroneous decisions.

Grade: D. Tony Pulis was right to criticise Taylor for missing two blatant penalty calls.

Follow Alex on Twitter: @AlexVryzakis

What do you think of the refereeing decisions made last weekend? Do you agree with the grades we’ve assigned? Let us know in the comment section below!

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