The Premier League stormed back this past weekend, bringing with it youaretheref.com’s Mark Halsey and his hot takes on the good calls, the okay calls, and the need for more VAR training and education.
Arsenal vs Leicester – Mike Dean
I thought first and foremost it was a pulsating game and Dean was a big part of that. He wasn’t fussy, he let the game breathe and only got involved when he needed to.
But refereeing is like being a goalkeeper, you can have a brilliant 89 minutes but one big talking point and everything else goes out of the window. I was watching, but I didn’t see Ozil’s handball in real time and it wasn’t until the replay that you could really see that he used his arm to control the ball.
Watching again, Dean’s looking straight at it. It just goes to show a referee at the top level cannot switch off for a moment because it becomes a focal point and detracts from an overall good performance.
Had Dean seen that, he would have given a free-kick to Leicester. I think he’ll be disappointed because he had an outstanding match up to that point.
Watford vs Liverpool – Anthony Taylor
The big talking point was whether the third goal was offside. I have spoken to a number of officials and they all agree that it was.
I’m of the same opinion. He’s interfering with an opponent and he’s in an offside position when the ball comes in. He becomes involved in active play and I think that’s offside.
Having said that, it would have been difficult for assistant referee Peter Kirkup to see in real time and if you’re in doubt, you don’t give it. Either way it was very tight and if you had VAR you would have most probably ruled Watford’s equaliser out.
There can be no complaints with the penalty however, when the goalkeeper comes out like that and goes to ground he runs a big risk. I thought it was good that Taylor waited to confer with his assistant and between them they’ve got it right.
Chelsea vs Burnley – Craig Pawson
I watched this game live and my first reaction was that Cahill’s challenge was a cautionable offence and I was surprised when the red card came out. It’s about opinions, but I felt Pawson was perhaps a little too close to the incident, the closer you are the worse angle you get.
Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger or consequences for an opponent and must be cautioned. Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent with brutality.
The law also says any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, the side or behind using one or both legs with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.
None of those criteria fit that challenge in my opinion, so I think Cahill was unlucky. The second Fabregas challenge was much worse than Cahill’s, marking a bit of inconsistency in his decisions.
I thought Fabregas was lucky to not go earlier, it was his own fault and he deserved his caution for applauding the referee, it’s dissent by action. In the 55th minute he brings down Jeff Hendrick and stopped a promising attack, he was lucky to escape a second caution there. But his second caution could easily have been a straight red alone.
Southampton vs Swansea – Mike Jones
I think Southampton had a case for a penalty when Tadic was brought down just inside the area. Swansea have got away with it and I think Tadic is very unlucky there. Jones is in a great position to see the challenge and award a penalty so Southampton have been a bit unlucky.
Brighton vs Manchester City – Michael Olivier
I think the assistant has helped Oliver in his disallowing Gabriel Jesus’s goal, it wasn’t a deliberate handball but it was right to disallow the goal because of the consequences.
But it wasn’t a caution, I know the law says a deliberate handball is a caution but it was clearly not deliberate. People will say if it’s not deliberate then why has he disallowed the goal? It’s the consequences of it ending up in the back of the net. It was correctly ruled out but the caution was very, very harsh.
Newcastle vs Tottenham – Andre Marriner
It’s inexcusable from Jonjo Shelvey, he’s let everybody down. To stamp on Dele Alli right in front of the referee is stupid but he’s got that in his locker, hasn’t he? He just didn’t need to do it and Marriner has got absolutely no choice but to send him off.
Regarding Harry Kane’s challenge, I thought the caution was correct. Marriner had an outstanding game and he got it absolutely spot on. He plays the ball first and then takes the man, not a red card challenge.
Manchester United vs West Ham – Martin Atkinson
I watched the game and I wasn’t sure whether West Ham should have had a penalty. It didn’t scream penalty and when it doesn’t jump out at you straight away then you don’t give it.
I imagine Atkinson would have been similarly doubtful, and if you’re doubtful you don’t give it. In my opinion, Atkinson got it spot on.
I think that everybody needs to know what’s going on and be able to hear the conversations that are happening.
But more importantly there needs to be more training and education on the VAR. Although the protocol is in place, it wasn’t adhered to during the summer by the referees and the VAR’s themselves.
It’s a totally different skillset and mindset. They’re using active officials and you’ve got to realise you’re not refereeing the game in that box. You’re there to assist the referee if he makes a clear and obvious error and the referees just didn’t know when to use it and when not to use it.
It’s clear there needs to be a lot more training until we use this system in the World Cup because as it stands it would be a disaster. Not least, some federations aren’t using VAR so they would come to a World Cup with no experience of the system.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey