Ref Review: Arsenal should have no complaints but Manchester United man got lucky

It took all of 13 minutes for the first major talking point of last weekend’s football, unlucky for Arsenal perhaps. Marcos Alonso’s goal sparked another weekend of big decisions and once again‘s Mark Halsey is back to take a look at them all…


Martin Atkinson (Chelsea vs Arsenal)

I thought it was a fantastic game and I thought Martin handled the game very well. I think it’s a good goal, if we’re going to start disallowing goals like that then we’re in trouble. Alonso’s going into the space from one direction and Bellerin is going into it from another direction, Alonso is already in the air and he’s got his eyes on the ball, firmly on the ball. For me, it’s a good goal and you can go back and look at the incident between Ryan Mason and Gary Cahill, there was no foul given there either and look at Ryan, he got carried off but no foul was given.

Had that been at the other end would Arsenal have wanted that goal disallowed? I think it’s making the referee a scapegoat for another poor performance, they can look at the referee but they have to look at themselves too.


Michael Oliver (Watford vs Burnley)

I absolutely agree with the red card – it’s spot on. Great recognition of a reckless challenge that endangered the players safety with excessive force.

The Burnley handball penalty appeal was interesting, a couple of weeks ago we saw Glenn Murray sent off for Brighton with the goalkeeper behind him for denying a goal scoring opportunity. This wasn’t really too different to Murray’s, he’s just in front of the goalkeeper and Michael has given the penalty but only cautioned the player. I think that’s the correct thing to do, I think Murray was sent off incorrectly so I think Michael’s done very well there.

On Niang, a goal scoring celebration doesn’t mean it’s a mandatory caution when you leave the field of play. If a player climbs on the hoardings then that becomes excessive and it becomes a cautionable offence. He doesn’t do that so I congratulate Michael for not cautioning the goal scorer. It annoys me because referees are consistently getting it wrong, the law states it is not a mandatory caution for celebrating with the fans.


Simon Hooper (Huddersfield Town vs Leeds United)

I have to say I think David Wagner has shown complete disrespect to Garry Monk on what he’s done but I blame the match officials for allowing it come to fruition. Wagner should never have gone belting down the pitch but in refereeing terms it’s about being pro-active and fourth official Oliver Langford and referee Simon Hooper haven’t been pro-active.

You’ve got to be switched on, when Wagner starts coming back you go towards him and you walk him off. Then the fourth official should be going straight to Monk to tell him they’ve got it under control. That shows you’re dealing with it but they never dealt with it, I thought Garry was very restrained in how he reacted but Wagner has shown a complete lack of disrespect.

You do it like Conte did on Saturday – celebrate on the touchline with your fans.


Mike Dean (Manchester City vs Swansea City)

Mike is an experienced referee but the assistant has got involved in the Sterling incident. Obviously the play has gone on and the assistant is shouting down his ear so Mike blows his whistle but you can tell by Mike’s body language he’s thinking, ‘what have you given me here?’

But once he’s done that he’s got to caution him, but it’s not simulation. With Mike’s experience he should have overruled his assistant and got on with the game. If Sterling doesn’t take evasive action he could get his leg broke so technically you could still give a penalty for that because he’s had to evade the challenge.

Everyone will debate if it’s a free-kick or not leading up to the winner but the bigger issue is the ball is moving when it gets taken. You should be seeing that, as a referee you never take your eye off the ball so the game should be stopped and the free-kick taken again. That was wrong in law.


Anthony Taylor (Leicester City vs Manchester United)

Dermot Gallagher is supporting the yellow card for Juan Mata but I’m not, I think that’s a disgrace. We have this problem at the moment where referees recognition of careless and reckless is poor, I’m surprised because Anthony is usually good at picking those up and he’s in a fantastic position but he’s too quick with the yellow card.

Doing that he’s cutting off anyone else from helping him on the officiating team, watching it live I thought it was a straight red card straight away and I think Mata’s very lucky to still be on the pitch. Just because it’s Mata and you think he’s not like that, that’s irrelevant. You look at Vardy getting a three match ban a while back for slipping into the Stoke player and that was nowhere near as bad as this.

Although I think Vardy himself was lucky not to get at least a caution earlier in the game because he’s had a little kick out at Eric Bailly, it showed petulance and I think he’s got a bit lucky there.


Mark Clattenburg (Tottenham vs Middlesbrough)

Mark’s positioning and his fitness at the moment is brilliant, he’s going through the gears with ease at the moment and he’s got himself in such a great position to give that penalty. That decision was through his hard work and graft to get in the right position and he’s refereeing really well at the moment.


You can follow Mark at @RefereeHalsey

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