Ref Review – A weekend of mad red cards mirrors a crazy season in the Premier League

Alex Vryzakis rates the performances of Premier League referees after last weekend’s drama, featuring the red cards awarded at the North London Derby, Everton’s capitulation against West Ham, and Manchester United’s loss to West Brom…

Oliver has a ‘mare at White Hart Lane

Game: Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

Ref: Michael Oliver

The North London derby is never an easy game to get to grips with as a referee, and Michael Oliver had his work cut out from the off.

The first big incident came as Francis Coquelin, who had already been booked, lunged into the onrushing Harry Kane. The tackle was ill-timed and ill-advised as Kane had touched the ball ahead, leaving the Arsenal player no hope of getting the ball at all. Oliver therefore had no choice but to send the Frenchman off, leaving the Gunners one goal up but one man down.

Later on in the game, a similar incident arose, but this time there was a sense that Oliver had shirked his responsibilities. This time it was Tottenham’s Eric Dier that was under scrutiny. Dier had been booked for a pull-back on Danny Welbeck. The tug was a clear booking as it impeded the striker from running on to the ball ahead of him. Dier was then involved in a skirmish with Olivier Giroud on the halfway line, pulling the forward back in much the same way as he had Welbeck. Oliver was quick to blow his whistle, but, instead of booking the Spurs player, simply gave the foul.

The Arsenal players were rightly outraged, as Coquelin had been sent off in similar circumstances. There was a sense that a yellow card would have been brandished had Dier not been previously booked, and there was the issue. The referee should not make his decisions based on what he has given beforehand.

Essentially, Oliver bottled it. Not a good day at the office.

Grade: C-. Not sending Dier off was a bad decision.

 

Taylor measured as Hammers win big

Game: Everton 2-3 West Ham

Ref: Anthony Taylor

Who would have guessed that Everton’s clash with high-flying West Ham would produce perhaps the most exciting 90 minutes of football so far this season? Anthony Taylor was kept on his toes from start to finish, and it was a valiant refereeing effort.

The first big test came in the form of Kevin Mirallas, as the Belgian gave Taylor no choice but to send him off for a second bookable offence. Early on in the game, he had dived while under pressure from Pedro Obiang, deservedly earning him a booking. His second came as he lunged into Aaron Cresswell when the ball was long gone; a clear second yellow, and subsequent red. Taylor made no mistake about it.

Next came a big penalty appeal from Everton, in the form of Muhamed Bešić. As he attempted to scamper into the box, he was clipped right on the edge by Alex Song. Taylor immediately blew for a penalty, and Bešić celebrated in unsavoury fashion at having won the spotkick. Replays were unable to confirm if the foul on the Bosnian had conclusively been in the box; as such, it is hard not to give Taylor the benefit of the doubt as the decision was a tough one.

In the closing stages of the game, a flurry of incidents demanded that Taylor’s refereeing faculties be put to the test. Firstly, Dimitri Payet’s ball struck Bešić’s trailing arm in the box, but the question of whether it had been ball to hand or hand to ball was a difficult one. Moments later, Bešić’s ball struck Cheikhou Kouyaté’s arm in a much similar manner, though this time the ball travelled rather more. Taylor chose to give nothing both times, and though it is easy to see why, the Kouyaté incident looked to be a penalty.

Grade: B. Taylor had a lot of difficult decisions to make, and his efforts were admirable.

 

Mata leaves Dean with no choice

Game: West Brom 1-0 Manchester United

Ref: Mike Dean

It seems that crazy red cards from second bookable offences were all the rage in the Premier League this weekend. Just as Francis Coquelin and Kevin Mirallas gave their respective referees no choice but to send them off, Juan Mata gave Mike Dean a similar opportunity.

Mata’s red card was perhaps even more ridiculous than Mirallas’ dive and Coquelin’s laughable challenge. The first yellow that he picked up was truly pointless. After West Brom were given a freekick, the Spaniard was booked for not retreating the required 10 yards. Van Gaal must have been fuming.

The second card came just a minute later as Mata decided to swipe at Darren Fletcher’s legs in the middle of the park. Not only was there no hope of his getting the ball, but Fletcher was nowhere near the goal. It was an incredible moment in an already crazy season.

Grade: B-. Had no choice but to send off Mata for two thoughtless offences.

Follow Alex @AlexVryzakis

Read more from Alex here

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