As Christmas gets closer and closer, it would appear officiating is slipping in quality in the Premier League after yet another weekend of big talking points in some of the biggest games of the season.
With a Manchester derby and a controversial penalty call on Merseyside, we once again call youaretheref.com’s Mark Halsey to give us his expert opinion…
Anthony Taylor (West Ham United vs Chelsea)
I’m a great advocate of allowing players to celebrate when they score a goal, it’s an entertainment business, especially when you haven’t made a good start to the season like Marko Arnautovic.
Let players go up to the crowd and take their shirts off, I’m all for that. But, players know the law, they’re told before every season that you cannot jump into the crowd, then it becomes a safety issue. All the fans surge forward, there could be young children in that vicinity and it becomes a safety issue where someone could get injured.
Players know they can’t jump over the hoardings, so the caution is fully justified because the players know. I was critical of Mike Dean for sending off Raheem Sterling because he didn’t jump into the fans, but on this occasion I would support Anthony Taylor. The players know they cannot jump into the crowd like that.
On the handball, they’re not going to get that. The defender didn’t make himself bigger, what people have to remember is it has to be deliberate. It was ball to arm, not arm to ball.
Lee Probert (Burnley vs Watford)
I will be amazed if Watford win their appeal [Watford did lose their appeal] against Marvin Zeegelaar’s red card. When players go sliding into the challenge like that, you run the risk and ask questions of the referee.
Was he out of control? Yes. Did he endanger the player’s safety? Yes. Was it excessive force? Yes. When you slow it down perhaps it’s not as bad, but the referee only gets one look at it. When VAR comes in decisions like that can be reviewed, but I’d support Lee Probert on that red card.
Burnley had a case for a penalty, I thought Janmaat made himself bigger when he handled the ball, and I thought Burnley’s goal was wrongly disallowed.
Ashley Barnes was in an offside position, but he wasn’t involved in an active play. When the Burnley player goes to play the ball forward initially, the Watford player goes to block the ball and that plays Ashley Barnes onside. Lee Probert should have seen that and in my opinion the goal should have stood.
Kevin Friend (Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth)
It was a tale of two penalties for Palace. I don’t think the first one was a penalty, I think Zaha has deceived Kevin Friend and it’s a difficult decision for Kevin. You can see Zaha is already going down and you can see Begovic taking his arms away. He’s deceived the referee by initiating contact, it wasn’t a penalty for me.
I think the second one is a penalty, but the first one not for me. We have to look for consistency now, the FA charged Oumar Niasse, even though there was a little bit of contact with Scott Dann, they’ve got to charge Zaha. We either charge everyone or we don’t charge anyone at all.
Neil Swarbrick (Newcastle United vs Leicester City)
There was two big decisions here too, I thought Matt Ritchie handled the ball before Newcastle’s equaliser, he’s made himself bigger and I think Newcastle were lucky to get away with that.
The foul on Jamie Vardy was a very difficult one for Neil Swarbrick, if you have any doubts whatsoever in that situation you don’t go looking for trouble. If you give a penalty you have to send the defender off for denial of a goal scoring opportunity. I think he’s got a toe to the ball, so I’d have to go with Neil in that situation, it’s a very difficult one to give.
Craig Pawson (Liverpool vs Everton)
I absolutely support Craig in awarding a penalty to Everton. Lovren’s an experienced defender and he gives Calvert-Lewin a shove. Craig has an absolutely fantastic view and you can clearly see the push. I don’t think Liverpool can have any complaints about the penalty.
My gripe is that week in, week out we see Jurgen Klopp continuously berate match officials on the touchline. I’ve mentioned it before, but he doesn’t set a good example to people watching around the world. If you look at Conte, Guardiola and Mourinho, if Mourinho acted the way Klopp does he’d be put in the stands. For some reason they’re accepting this behaviour from Klopp and it’s got to stop. His conduct is becoming improper week in, week out now.
He’s gone straight to the referee after the match to give him an earful and Craig has to be strong enough to report that.
Michael Oliver (Manchester United vs Manchester City)
It wasn’t the fiercest of derbies there’s ever been, but Michael controlled the game well. He got the big decisions, on the whole, correct. But there’s a but, he’s one of our best referees but he sometimes lets the game get away from him.
As an example, David Silva makes a couple of challenges in the second half and it’s a great chance to stamp your authority and slow the game down. Get the yellow card out and slow the game down, because those sort of challenges in that sort of game can lead to retribution. Players start to take the law into their own hands because they feel hard done by, a few more minutes went by before he cautioned Silva.
In my opinion, it wasn’t a penalty on Herrera. I just wish players would go down naturally, why do you have to throw yourself in the air? You put doubt in the referee’s mind, but for consistency Michael has to book Jesus in the first half. If Michael gives a penalty, that goes before the panel and Jesus could get banned, but because he didn’t give anything it won’t get looked at. If we’re going to rid the game of this disease, then we need to dishing out retrospective action even if a player doesn’t gain an advantage. Otherwise, we’re never going to stamp diving and simulation out.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey