After yet another eventful week in the Premiership, Alex Vryzakis provides the breakdown on how the match officials performed. Did they keep the game flowing or disrupt its rhythm? Did they use common sense or follow the letter of the law? Read on to find out.
Taylor eagle-eyed at the Britannia
Game: Stoke 1-0 Chelsea
Ref: Anthony Taylor
Such astute refereeing performances remain few and far between. Taylor showed himself to be at the top of his game on a day which saw a banned Jose Mourinho absent from the Britannia Stadium.
While Taylor managed to keep the Costa-Shawcross battle at a low simmer with a few choice words and flashes of his yellow card, it was his treatment of a Loic Remy chance that proved his quality. With just the goalkeeper to beat, the forward stumbled over the oncoming Jack Butland, forcing him to shoot at goal from the floor. While at first glance it seemed inevitable that the young keeper had bundled the player over, replays showed that there had been no contact. Taylor waved play on wordlessly as the Chelsea bench bellowed at the fourth official. It proved to be an excellent decision, one that crowned an already impeccable performance.
It may very well be that the Chelsea manager’s absence had something to do with proceedings, but Taylor’s relaxed yet observant brand of officiating is certainly one to watch.
Grade: A. Few referees would have dealt as well under the circumstances.
Atkinson oversees Derby draw
Game: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Few North London derbies can be said to have been good-tempered affairs. Sunday’s draw, however, was one such miraculous occurrence. Atkinson managed the improbable with ease, producing one of the most assured refereeing performances of the season so far. By the end of the game, only Erik Lamela had been booked. For a fiery encounter such as this, it seems astounding that Atkinson was able to be so lenient.
Several incidents threatened to boil over during the course of the game, namely the ongoing battle between Olivier Giroud and Jan Vertonghen. As half-time loomed near, Giroud took a tumble in the box under pressure from the defender. He then proceeded to bump chests with the Belgian, in turn causing the latter to fall as if poleaxed. Both had overreacted, and Atkinson told them as much in what appeared to be a scolding. It was all just guff, and the ref told them as much.
Another crucial moment for Atkinson came in the shape of Danny Rose. After a careless Joel Campbell swung his arm into Rose, the Tottenham man fell to the ground to the great frustration of the home crowd. While Atkinson could have chosen to book Rose for diving or to send off Campbell for dangerous play, he chose to wave play on after signalling that the incident had been unintentional. A brave move by a man who was in no mood to let emotions get in the way of a fine refereeing performance.
Grade: B+. Atkinson exuded calm throughout.
East solid as Vardy run continues
Game: Leicester 2-1 Watford
Ref: Roger East
In a game that saw Jamie Vardy score for the ninth match in a row, questions were raised surrounding the issue of penalties and possible red cards.
A moment of madness saw Heurelho Gomes, arguably Watford’s player of the season so far, foul an oncoming Vardy at the far end of the box. While the fact that a penalty was to be awarded was indisputable, fans on both sides waited with bated breath for East’s decision: red or yellow?
Thankfully for the Watford keeper, he brandished the yellow card and waved the player away, but the question remained: how could it not be a red considering that Gomes had effectively been the last man? How is it possible that goalkeepers are not subject to the same set of rules as the rest of the players?
Though East’s decision may not have been categorically wrong, it did raise some interesting points about the letter of law and its application in the modern game.
Grade: B. A solid performance, got both penalty incidents right.
Dean harsh as Baggies falter
Game: Manchester United 2-0 West Brom
Ref: Mike Dean
Almost as if to demonstrate the problems that East faced at Leicester, Mike Dean was forced to send off the last man at Old Trafford.
As Anthony Martial breezed past the West Brom defence, threatening to double United’s lead, Gareth McAuley had no choice but to bring him down. Dean was quick to show the defender the red card as he was indeed the last man, but when viewed in conjunction with Gomes’ yellow, the decision feels a little hollow.
While the decision to send off McAuley may show Dean’s lack of common sense when thinking of the game as a whole, it is the laws of the game that need scrutiny.
Grade: B. Dean followed the law to the letter, no matter its absurdity.
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