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?
Oliver disappointing during Leicester rout
Game: Swansea 0-3 Leicester City
Ref: Michael Oliver
A match featuring two of the most creative and open teams in the league should, in theory, be an easy ride for the referee. Unfortunately for Michael Oliver, Saturday’s three o’clock kick off proved to be a lot more complicated than expected.
Though Oliver performed fairly well, a few decisions undermined his refereeing, which was a real shame. A good example of this would be Leicester’s second goal. Riyad Mahrez was clearly offside as he waited for N’Golo Kante’s pass, and neither Oliver nor the linesman picked this up. It would be wrong to speculate, but conceding a second goal really knocked Swansea’s confidence, denying them the chance to regroup.
Late on in the game, a familiar situation cropped up. Leicester claimed two penalties in quick succession, and while Oliver was right to deny the first as Ashley Williams couldn’t possibly have meant to handle it from so close, the second was an obvious dive from Jamie Vardy. Oliver should have carded him instead of running in the opposite direction.
Grade: C. Spineless refereeing from an official who is usually commanding.
Tricky decision for Madley at the Emirates
Game: Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland
Ref: Robert Madley
Madley’s excellent refereeing run has continued unimpeded in the past few weeks, and he should be commended for that. Arsenal’s clash with Sunderland never really threatened to get away from the relatively inexperienced ref, but there was an incident which is worth looking at more closely, if only to question whether it could have gone another way.
Arsenal’s commanding defender Laurent Koscielny had a shaky game at best, but it was his tackling which left much to be desired. Early on in the match, the Frenchman crashed into Sunderland’s young striker Duncan Watmore. The clash seemed harmless at first, but Watmore’s reaction proved that it had been more dangerous than first thought. Replays showed that Koscielny had inadvertently stepped on Watmore’s ankle, completely missing the ball.
Madley was quick to reprimand Koscielny and show him a yellow card, but it seemed that, inadvertently or not, the challenge should have received a red card.
Grade: B-. Incident aside, Madley had a good game and should be given the benefit of the doubt,
Bournemouth finally become giantkillers
Game: Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth
Ref: Mike Jones
Bournemouth’s win against Chelsea was one of the truly incredible results of the season so far. Unfortunately, their win was marred somewhat by the suggestion that their goal was offside.
Of course, it is not Mike Jones’ job to see whether or not players are offside, but questioning their linesmen is usually the referee’s primary task. After Glenn Murray scored, Jones should have been rushing to his linesman to make absolutely sure he was onside, and replays suggest that it was an extremely marginal call.
Jones’ failure to communicate may well have cost Mourinho’s Chelsea side two invaluable points.
Grade: C. Jones appeared a little lazy when it came to Bournemouth’s goal.
Neil’s Norwich slump to another loss
Game: Watford 2-0 Norwich
Ref: Mike Dean
Considering Norwich’s plight in the Premier League so far this season, Saturday’s tame game must have been a relief for Mike Dean. Though Norwich tried to scrap their way to a goal, it just wasn’t happening for them.
Dean’s biggest contribution, therefore, was a penalty decision which didn’t require much thought. Odion Ighalo was hauled down by the hapless Alex Tettey; Dean awarded Watford the penalty before booking the Norwich defender. As he had not been the last man, the decision was justified, though not particularly taxing for an experienced referee like Dean.
Grade: B+. Games such as this are Dean’s bread and butter, an assured performance.
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