It was a particularly frantic weekend of football in the Premier League and for the most part, the referees struggled to keep a grip on proceedings. Fortunately, Alex Vrazykis was keeping tabs on them…
A tale of two handballs
Game: Everton 1-2 Swansea
Ref: Anthony Taylor
Refereeing a football match can be far from a simple task. Sunday’s tie at Goodison Park proved to be an example of this for Anthony Taylor, who floundered somewhat at the barrage of controversial incidents thrown his way.
Credit should be given where it is due, though, as Taylor correctly pointed to the spot just past the 15-minute mark, as John Stones’ back pass left much to be desired. The delayed back pass put Tim Howard in considerable trouble, allowing Andre Ayew to skip towards goal. The striker was then clumsily brought down by the goalkeeper in a desperate attempt to keep the scoreline even; Taylor could have given nothing else but a spot kick in that situation. Interestingly, he chose not to card Howard at all, which showed an indecisive side to his refereeing.
Later on in the game came the handballs, and with them, Taylor’s errors. In the run-up to Swansea’s second goal, there was a clear handball by Ashley Williams as he steered the ball away from Gerard Deulofeu. Taylor’s lack of response was astounding, and Everton were right to feel aggrieved.
A second handball incident cropped up when Seamus Coleman was attacking the Swansea goal. As he tried to cross the ball into the box, it struck Neil Taylor on his outstretched left arm. Again, the ref was unmoved, though the fact that the ball traveled only a short distance may have affected his decision.
Grade: B-. Though the penalty decision was correct, Everton were hard done by due to inattentive officiating.
Mertesacker sees red in Chelsea triumph
Game: Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea
Ref: Mark Clattenburg
Following on from Leicester’s impressive victory over Sunday evening’s game was a must-win for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, but it was not to be. Indeed, it could have been worse had Clattenburg made all the right calls.
Early in the first half, Per Mertesacker found himself in a one-on-one with the league’s most feared striker, Diego Costa. Considering the debacle the Spaniard caused earlier in the season with Arsenal’s Gabriel, Mertesacker was right to hesitate. Unfortunately, his hesitation, and his bizarre last-minute glance at the linesman meant he missed the ball
completely as he went in for the tackle, leaving Costa to tumble and roll as he pleased. Clattenburg was left with no choice but to send the German off as he was the last man;
though it was a soft red card if there ever was one. How much of the man Mertesacker actually got was a mystery even to the replays.
The decision that was unfathomable though, was Clattenburg’s immediate dismissal of Cesc Fabregas’ claim for a penalty in the second half. During a routine fight for the ball in the box, Laurent Koscielny barged into Fabregas, knocking him to the floor. Replays showed that the Frenchman made no attempt to go for the ball, instead focusing on body-checking the Chelsea player.
Appeals fell on deaf ears, and perhaps it was Clattenburg’s ego that was muffling them.
Grade: C. The red card was soft but understandable. The denial of a penalty was criminal.
Game: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
Ref: Mike Jones
The officiating performance at Old Trafford seemed to be a showcase of missed opportunities and close calls. Though the game was relatively quiet, Mike Jones missed multiple incidents due to his lacklustre showing.
The first such moment came when Marouane Fellaini and Victor Wanyama both jumped for a ball near the halfway line. The Belgian’s well-known elbows were swinging wildly, and his left arm made sharp contact with the Southampton player’s face. Wanyama fell to the ground clutching his eye, yet Jones ignored this and waved play on. Only once play had stopped did the referee choose to come back to the stricken player. It seems astonishing that a fairly dangerous incident such as this was not even worthy of a yellow, and so, Fellaini continues to play with fire.
Later on in the game, Chris Smalling began to employ similar tactics to those he used versus Newcastle a few weeks ago, though to much better effect. The United defender grabbed a hold of Virgil van Dijk’s shirt on more than one occasion as the corner was played in, clearly impeding the Southampton player. Any one of those tugs could have been given as penalties, but Jones remained oblivious.
A referee at this level should be catching these sorts of incidents, especially if they are dangerous in nature. Jones will be hoping to forget this game in a hurry.
Grade: C. Jones’ decision-making was well-below par on the day.
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