Ref Review: Arsenal get a stroke of fortune whilst Manchester United have reason to be unhappy

Alex Vryzakis highlights where this weekend’s referees at Goodison Park and KCOM Stadium went wrong, contrasted with the conscientious decisions being made at the Etihad. Mark Halsey from is also back to run his expert eye over proceedings…


Goalkeepers on their own at Goodison

Game: Everton 3 – 1 Middlesborough

Ref: Lee Mason

To say the game has changed over the years would be something of an understatement. Gone are the days when players would play through the pain in order to propel their team to victory, but so to are the days when goalkeepers were given little to no protection. Or so we thought.

The Saturday afternoon clash between Everton and Middlesborough at Goodison Park turned out to be just the place for referee Lee Mason to laugh in the face of conventional wisdom, choosing instead to act as if anything goes in the box.

The first inkling that something was amiss came as loanee Alvaro Negredo netted Boro’s only goal of the game. Replays, and indeed real-time play, clearly showed Negredo had in fact headed Maarten Stekelenburg’s arm instead of the ball. The fact that the ball then rolled into the net should have been irrelevant as the goalkeeper had been obviously impeded. Mason however did not agree, waving off any insinuations of foul play.

Later in the game, Everton decided to try a similar tactic – who could blame them? Moments before Gareth Barry scored on his 600th Premier League appearance, Victor Valdes was taken out of action mercilessly by Ashley Williams’ challenge in front of goal. Valdes was on the floor as Barry scored, yet Mason once again let the goal stand.

Absolutely baffling on both accounts, and it calls into question the judgement of his fellow officials.

Grade: C. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and Mason was miles off for both of the incidents.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

It’s a foul, the Middlesbrough goal is an absolute nailed on foul. A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when it is the hands or in his body, a goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent in that situation.

The ball was in his hands so from that moment he is control unless he drops it. He didn’t drop it, the only reason he dropped it is because Negredo barged into him.

The scissor kick at the other end is permissible as long as it doesn’t endanger an opponent and Valdes was diving forwards with his hands at the time. We’ve seen scissor kicks allowed in the last few weeks and by the letter of the law you could say they should be free-kicks.

In this instant the referee doesn’t think it’s a dangerous scissor kick and I don’t personally think there was a danger to Valdes at that time. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t…


East loses the plot up North

Game: Hull 1 – 4 Arsenal

Ref: Roger East

When it rains is pours. This is a phrase referee Roger East will no doubt be all to familiar with after an atrocious officiating display. It was an astounding afternoon, as nearly every decision seemed to miss the mark, causing the Match of the Day pundits to single him out as the worst ref of the weekend.

It all started when East adjudged Jake Livermore to have stopped a goal with his hand. Francis Coquelin’s shot was heading towards the net, but the ref failed to take into account Eldin Jakupovic, who was just behind Livermore. The goalie appeared to have been in a perfect position to save the shot, so the red card seems an extremely harsh decision.

Livermore’s drama didn’t end there however, as it came to light that the penalty should’ve been replayed. Cameras around the ground caught footage of Livermore still slowly trundling off the pitch as Alexis Sanchez’s shot was saved. East hadn’t made sure the player had left the field before allowing the penalty to be taken is strangely amateurish.

There was then a penalty shout at the opposite end. Dieumerci Mbokani had been brought down by Petr Cech, and the assumption of a penalty decision was obvious. Though the spot kick was eventually given, it was linesman Darren Cann who had to convince East to give the foul. East’s initial obliviousness was senseless, and he must be grateful Cann managed to avoid a big error on the part of the referees.

Grade: D. The fact that Santi Cazorla was allowed to toe the line between dissent and outright ridicule epitomises the ineptitude of the performance.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

Roger is correct to give the penalty but I believe he’s wrong in law on two counts. Has Livermore denied a goal or a goal scoring opportunity? There has to be doubt there because the goalkeeper was there and he had every chance of saving the shot. So in my opinion Livermore hasn’t denied a goal scoring opportunity so in law that decision is incorrect.

You can’t let the penalty be taken with the player still on the field, that shouldn’t happen at that level and play shouldn’t be restarted until Livermore is off the pitch. Roger’s a lovely guy but at elite level he shouldn’t be making that sort of error.

Then in the second half he’s clearly waved away Hull’s penalty appeal, nine seconds later the assistant has given the decision and Darren Cann is like that, if he thinks you’re wrong he’ll come in and bail you out. As Arsenal are on the attack he blows his whistle for a penalty, at least however long it took the right decision was made but it’s about how the decision is made. It took far, far too long, nine seconds is too long, that’s Sunday morning refereeing.


Moss measured as City cruise to victory

Game: Manchester City 4 – 0 Bournemouth

Ref: Jon Moss

From the ridiculous to the very nearly sublime. The best measure of a referee comes in the split-second decision-making when choosing to wait for the advantage can mean the winning goal being scored. While it was not quite so clear-cut during City’s rout of Bournemouth, Jon Moss can be pleased with his performance.

As Bournemouth enjoyed a brief spell in possession, Nicolas Otamendi flew into a reckless challenge on Harry Arter. Though the tackle was wild, Moss watched and waited as the advantage he’d signalled for failed to appear. He then blew his whistle and carded Otamendi retrospectively, which was the measured and correct decision.

Later on, a scuffle caused Moss to produce a red card. While Adam Smith did in fact shove Nolito, the Spaniard’s reckless attempt at a head-butted response was deserving of the card.

Grade: B+. Conscientious and intelligent refereeing that contrasted heavily with other referees on the day.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

It’s nice to get a game under your belt where you have a good game because his first three games have been really bad. We’re quick to criticise so let’s give Jon Moss a pat on the back for this one.

When I refereed you get stick all the time from your assessors, it goes with the territory so it’s nice to get a pat on the back when you’ve done well.

Nolito’s moved his head towards the Bournemouth player, was it an act of violent conduct? I don’t blame Jon one bit for sending him off but maybe he could have handled that with two yellow cards given it was so late in the game. I’m not criticising him for sending him off but could it have been managed a little bit better?

But apart from that he refereed the game well.


Decision of the week – Anthony Martial

As a referee I saw that straight away and said foul. I know there are lots of people saying it isn’t a foul and some think it is.

But he’s gone through the man to get the ball and that is a free-kick all day along. It’s similar to Gary Cahill last week, he’s got the ball but he’s gone through the player to get it.

The expected decision there is a foul and for the referee to blow his whistle, it’s a free-kick to the defensive team and everyone just gets on with it. How many times do you see across the weekend where those are given? Michael Oliver gave free-kicks in similar situations throughout the game.


Read more from Alex here

Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexVryzakis and Mark Halsey at @RefereeHalsey


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