Alex Vryzakis rates the performances over the weekend which saw referees on top of their games with the calls…
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Pawson takes his time in Manchester
Game: Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal
Ref: Craig Pawson
In years past, this would have been a blockbuster; a game that would essentially decide the title. This weekend’s clash, however, saw two floundering teams attempt to convince the world that they could still compete. Craig Pawson’s job was to make sure the desperation didn’t lead to anarchy, and, for the most part, he was successful.
There were several moments that threatened to boil over, however; namely an incident early in the second half, which saw Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey let his frustration get the better of him. Following an altercation with Ander Herrera, Ramsey shoved the Spaniard over, leading to full-blown chaos as both players pleaded their innocence.
Pawson remained calm, pulling the players aside and waiting for his linesman to come over and give him a rundown of events. In the end, both Ramsey and Herrera were justly booked for their part in the scuffle, as chants of “Off!” rang out around Old Trafford. But Pawson managed to keep his cool, doling out the correct punishments.
It was a moment that we are rarely able to see: referees taking their time. The best decisions are those that are well thought out, and Pawson was careful not to be rash at a crucial moment in the match.
Grade: B-. Pawson was able to control tempers during a fixture renowned for its ability to get out of hand.
Moss uninterested in Palace appeals
Game: West Brom 3-2 Crystal Palace
Ref: Jonathan Moss
You’d be forgiven for not expecting much at the Hawthorns this time around, as two of the league’s lowest-scoring sides squared up. Yet by the end, the crowd had seen five goals of real quality. The end-to-end drama no doubt reminded Jonathan Moss how tough life can be as a top-tier referee.
As such, the two fairly strong appeals for penalties that Crystal Palace saw waved away may well come under scrutiny. The first came in the shape of a quite clever move on the part of Gareth McAuley. Backing into Crystal Palace’s captain Scott Dann, McAuley knocked him clean down, raising questions of the referee, who simply ran on, following the play. At that stage in the game, a spot-kick could have been crucial for Palace’s wavering morale.
The second appeal came late in the second half, with the resurgent Yannick Bolasie charging towards the Baggies’ box. As he looked to cut inside, Darren Fletcher essentially body-checked the forward, blocking his path and sending him to the ground. Moss was quick to wave play on, adamantly shaking his head that there was no foul to be had. Again, the decision could have been crucial.
That is not to say that West Brom will not feel aggrieved as well. Emmanuel Adebayor, a player who has also somewhat risen from the ashes, made a nasty lunge at Craig Dawson’s calf, a tackle that should perhaps have been a red card.
It seemed to be a day of missed opportunities for Moss, and perhaps for Crystal Palace as well.
Grade: C. The two penalty appeals were strong, making Moss’ lack of decisive action confusing.
Villa make it easy for Friend
Game: Stoke 2-1 Aston Villa
Ref: Kevin Friend
With each new game seems to come more misery for Aston Villa, and this time, Marko Arnautovic heaped it on with a brace against the yellow-sporting, hapless Brum team. Kevin Friend’s day, on the other hand, was a much simpler affair.
Early on in the second half, Villa were cut open by an impressive Xherdan Shaqiri ball to the right wing. As Phil Bardsley ran into the box in the hopes of taking a punt at goal, a panicked Ashley Westwood raised his boot in some vague hope of stopping the player. And stop him he did, knocking him to the floor in the process.
It was a needless foul as the Stoke full-back was being tracked by several other defenders, as well as being a way off of the goalmouth. Friend wasted no time in pointing to the spot, and really, he had no other choice.
It was the kind of day that referees dream of for Friend, one that he gladly grabbed a hold of.
Grade: B. Made the right decision when called upon
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