Dangerous game for Madley
Manchester City 2-1 Swansea
Ref: Robert Madley
Last week, Madley gave a yellow card to Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny for a dangerously late challenge. In retrospect, it should have been a red card, and the ref must have seen that when he later watched his own performance.
With that in mind, it is hard to wrap your head around a similar incident during Manchester City’s clash with Swansea. In the middle of the second half, with Swans pushing for a much-needed goal, Wayne Routledge was brought down by the high boot of Bacary Sagna. The crowd were incensed as they watched Madley stop play to book him and give him a talking to.
Replays showed that the defender’s foot was, not only very high, but dangerously close to Routledge’s eyes. Had the studs made proper contact, things could have been much worse, making Madley’s decision to book Sagna a strange one. It was dangerous play that could have seriously injured an opponent, perhaps even blinding him. If that’s not the definition of a sending off, then I’m not sure what is.
The precedent that it sets is a worrying one; and that poor decision marred what had been an otherwise good refereeing performance.
Grade: D. Madley obviously didn’t learn his lesson, allowing dangerous play to go unpunished.
Friend lacks confidence as Gunners go top
Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal
Ref: Kevin Friend
Arsenal’s visit to Villa Park ended in predictable fashion. Despite Remi Garde’s appointment as Villa manager, they were unable to overcome a confident Arsenal side. Kevin Friend, on the other, seemed less than sure about his refereeing during the game.
When Mathieu Flamini’s through pass found the onrushing Theo Walcott on the left channel, Alan Hutton was quick to attempt to diffuse the situation. Unfortunately for him, Walcott proved too quick and the defender was forced to drag the player to the floor to prevent him from taking a shot. It was an obvious penalty decision, but the officials hesitated in a bizarre moment that saw Arsenal players clamoured for Friend to signal for a spot-kick.
When he finally did award the penalty, it was without much conviction, seemingly relying on his linesman’s opinion. This was Friend at his least confident; and it was difficult to understand why considering he had had an excellent view of the incident.
It was the right call to make in the end, but the hesitation is worrisome.
Grade: C. This was one of Friend’s least convincing performances in recent weeks.
Dean is Crystal clear
Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton
Ref: Mike Dean
Southampton’s visit to Crystal Palace turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Mike Dean to prove himself. This is Dean’s 15th season as a Premier League referee since being appointed to the Select Group of referees, and his experience in difficult situations is invaluable. Where younger referees may panic or choose the wrong course of action, Dean excels.
When Cedric Soares dilly-dallied on the ball at the halfway line, Yannick Bolasie recognised the moment as an opportunity to dispossess the Southampton midfielder. While forcefully done, Dean correctly adjudged that there was no foul. Bolasie’s shoulder charge simply proved that Soares wasn’t paying proper attention or shielding the ball as he should have been.
Moments later, Bolasie was shoved over by Virgil van Dijk, and seeing the ball run to another Palace player, Dean again allowed play to go on. Again, Dean was right to wait and make sure that there would be a reason to blow his whistle. That instinct comes with playing time; it is an intuitive decision.
These incidents prove that Dean has earned his place, and the overall performance was exemplary.
Grade: B+. It was back to basics for the experienced Dean