Ref Review with Mark Halsey: Manchester City vs Arsenal refereed poorly

It was perhaps the busiest weekend of refereeing yet this weekend as six Premier League matches intertwined with the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. With more and more on the line and the season reaches its conclusion, all six games plus the two semi-finals come under the microscope from‘s Mark Halsey…


Graham Scott (Bournemouth vs Middlesbrough)

It’s good to see Graham being given another game and gaining the experience of refereeing at the top level. Looking at the first caution on Gaston Ramirez, it’s absolutely spot on and Ramirez needs to take a good look at himself in the mirror. For me, that’s where a caution just isn’t enough, we have a panel that sits every Monday morning and we should say ‘bang, two game ban’. We’ve got to get rid of this disease that’s creeping back into top flight football.

Going onto the second caution, we talk about players making it difficult for referees but he goes sliding in on a caution and even though there’s no contact, to do that runs a huge risk. I’m not criticising Graham for sending him off but a more experienced referee would have pulled him to one side and given him an almighty public rebuke.

Bobby Madley (Hull City vs Watford)

I saw the challenge live on BeIN Sports and I’ve got to say my first impression was it wasn’t a red card – I don’t think it even warranted a yellow card! A free kick and a calm down would have sufficed, in my opinion that challenge wasn’t reckless and it didn’t endanger the player’s safety with excessive force and brutality.

I go back to last week where he refereed Manchester United vs Chelsea and he got a bit of stick for not sending off Gary Cahill, maybe he took that into the game with him that he wasn’t going to run the risk. If you have any doubts at all you do not guess at your decision. He was in a fantastic position and only Bobby can come to us and tell us why he sent Niasse off.

[Hull City won their appeal against Oumar Niasse’s red card]

Michael Oliver (Swansea City vs Stoke City)

Absolute penalty, no complaints from anybody there and Michael’s got that one correct. It’s good to see him get some big match decisions right because he’s what I call a work in progress at the moment.

Roger East (West Ham United vs Everton)

There’s no problem with Adrian’s miskick from the throw in, he’s tried to kick it out and as a referee you use your common sense. You’re not going to give anything there, whether it’s hit Lukaku or not you just carry on, you don’t give anything silly there.

On the corner, any young referees should know Roger has missed that shirt pull for a reason. He’s in a good position and as a referee you have to anticipate the play, but what does he do? He turns left and when the ball is kicked he’s watching the ball, he’s not looking at the six-yard box where all the action is happening. When does a football ever commit an offence? It doesn’t. It was basic refereeing and it’s poor from a referee at that level. He’s a great lad and a good bloke but he’s not a great referee.

Anthony Taylor (Burnley vs Manchester United)

Wayne Rooney and Manchester United should have had a penalty, Anthony should have pointed to the spot and you can see from Wayne’s body language over the next 10 minutes that he was disappointed it wasn’t given.

Anthony was in a great position and Rooney will feel aggrieved because Barton has clearly tripped him from behind. When a player is in front of a defender, you’re not going to go down unless there’s contact.

Andre Marriner (Liverpool vs Crystal Palace)

Players are questioning now whether or not you stay on your feet for a penalty, we’ve got to start giving penalties for those now in my opinion. It’s put Coutinho off balance and given time for the defender to get in position to block the shot.

I can understand why Andre hasn’t given it because it’s about credibility, Coutinho has stayed on his feet and got a shot away but I think that is a penalty now. At the other end, Benteke gets cautioned where there’s contact, if Coutinho’s is a penalty you can say Benteke’s is too, I think both are penalties.

Also, I think Grujic should have had a clear red card for his foul on Tomkins, I didn’t need to see a replay for that. Once again, the recognition of careless and reckless and reckless with excessive force was inconsistent. Niasse gets a red card for nothing yet Grujic gets away with this one.

Martin Atkinson (Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur)

I thought Martin was outstanding, I really did. He allowed the game to breathe, he managed the game and not the occasion and he managed the players. His judgement and his recognition of foul/non-foul was excellent and he got the big decision right.

You go to ground like that and you run the risk, people say there was no contact but he’s taken evasive action. The assistant has come in and helped Martin and between them they’ve got it bang on. The game was played at a quick pace but Martin put his foot on the game and brought the tempo back down to his level so he could maintain full control, nobody was talking about him because it was a wonderful game of football. Well done Martin Atkinson.

Craig Pawson (Manchester City vs Arsenal)

Craig was the opposite to Martin, sadly. It’s about getting the respect of the players and you get that with your recognition of offences but the trouble with Craig was he let too many small fouls go. You look at the first one with Gabriel and David Silva, he could have come in then and stamped himself on the game but he didn’t.

Gabriel’s challenge warranted a caution and from then on there were niggling fouls and it led to the referee getting big decisions wrong. The intensity went up but Craig didn’t control it like Martin did, he didn’t bring it back down to his level. Craig is not a big game referee yet, he hasn’t earned that right and I feel a bit sorry for him because I don’t think he should have been appointed.

The FA owe it to the clubs to appoint their biggest referees for those games, the Dean’s, Marriner’s, the Clattenburg’s. They didn’t give it to Mark because there’s differences between him and the management but you have to put aside those differences and put your best officials in charge.

The challenge on Aguero is a penalty, Oxlade-Chamberlain catches him and causes Aguero to trip himself up. As I said with Rooney, the best forwards won’t go down easily in that position but Craig was static instead of moving towards play and he’s missed the challenge.

Going onto the disallowed goal, from TV replays you can’t see whether Stephen Child is in line but an assistant referee of his calibre – an elite group official – should be up with play there. If he’s three or four yards behind then he won’t be able to tell if it’s out of play.

Then the second penalty appeal on Alexis Sanchez, Craig is in a brilliant position there but it’s a clear holding offence and a clear penalty. Again, there was no need to go down, there were three big incidents in that game and the officials have got them all wrong.


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