Tottenham vs Liverpool offside debacle + Chelsea & Manchester United in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

The Premier League threw up not just one of the games of the season last weekend, but one of the games of the weekend for refereeing talking points. In a way it wouldn’t be unfair to call this week’s edition ‘Assistant Ref Review’, but either way we once again call on’s Mark Halsey to talk us through what the referees got right and wrong…


Paul Tierney (Bournemouth vs Stoke City)

I’ve been harping on about simulation for some time now and well done to Paul Tierney for spotting Josh King’s attempt at it. You have to wonder if the current deterrent is working, I would like to see the law changed so if a referee sees a clear act of simulation it changes from a caution to a red card and an automatic two match ban.

It’s the only way we’re going to get rid of this because the current law isn’t doing enough to put players off. I don’t think it concerns players if they miss a game or two for winning a penalty.


Roger East (Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United)

Refereeing is all about refereeing with confidence and I’ve been constructively critical of Roger’s performance in the past. But you have to say what an absolutely fantastic advantage he played very early on which led to Brighton’s first goal.

Everything is about confidence and that will have given Roger confidence for the rest of the game and he went onto referee the rest of the game very well. There was a handball appeal for a penalty which he got spot on, he’s a nice guy and it’s really good to see him have a good game.


Anthony Taylor (Leicester City vs Swansea City)

Anthony didn’t have the best of starts to this game. He didn’t recognise a challenge from Diabate which was reckless and endangered the player’s safety with excessive force. He only cautioned him and I felt Diabate was fortunate to stay on the field of play.

That was in the 3rd or 4th minute and you have to be switched on. The second Leicester goal was correctly ruled out and well done to Adam Nunn for signalling for offside straight away. Anthony hasn’t picked up his assistant as he signals for an advantage to Leicester and fair play to Adam for sticking to his guns and asking Anthony to come over and have a word with him. I can only think Anthony just wasn’t switched on and he’ll have to be this weekend because he’s got the North London derby.


Stuart Atwell (Manchester United vs Huddersfield Town)

Stuart was inconsistent throughout the game and the McTominay incident is a clear, clear penalty and only Stuart can tell us what he was thinking at the time.

I also find it odd that Jose Mourinho came out and said Mike Dean told him Stuart didn’t have a very good view of the incident. I’m sorry but Stuart has the best seat in the house, he’s right there and it’s a late challenge from Kongolo. It’s a reckless challenge which should have ended in a penalty for Manchester United and a caution for Kongolo.


Michael Oliver (West Brom vs Southampton)

Michael can’t see from his angle if Jay Rodriguez has been pushed in the back or not, he needs his assistant to come in and give him some help there. He’s got a great side on view and can clearly see the Southampton defender ploughing into the back of Jay Rodriguez.

There were a couple of other appeals but that was the one that stood out for me from all the others.


Neil Swarbrick (Arsenal vs Everton)

Neil’s a good, steady referee and the players like him and respect him. He wasn’t fussy and allowed the game to flow.

The fourth goal was definitely offside and the assistant has switched off. The problem I’ve seen this season is that assistants aren’t in line with where they should be and at that level you should be picking those up. At that level they should be easy.


Andre Marriner (Crystal Palace vs Newcastle United)

The first penalty for Crystal Palace was a great spot by the assistant referee and he’s been brave enough to bring it to Andre’s attention.

I heard some criticism of Simon Beck for not coming in and helping Andre on Jonjo Shelvey’s shirt pull, but that’s not the assistant’s responsibility and he’s not going to be able to see that. Andre’s too deep and if he’s closer in and more central he sees that and awards Palace a second penalty of the game. You have to go where the danger zone is and Andre was too detached from play.


Jon Moss (Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur)

It was a quiet game for 80 minutes or so and then it came to life in the last 10 minutes. On the first penalty for Tottenham, the pass through to Harry Kane comes off two Liverpool players and its interpretation.

My interpretation is that as soon as Dele Alli plays that ball Harry Kane is in an offside position. Lovren knows Kane is behind him and is less than a metre away. The law says if a ball is deliberately played by an opponent then he plays that player onside, but for me does Kane impact on Lovren? Of course he does. He knows he’s there and he knows he has to play that ball, therefore he’s interfering with an opponent and he’s offside.

The law contradicts itself somewhat and it needs clarification on the confusion surrounding this incident. I’ve spoken to many ex-officials and they say they would have flagged Harry Kane offside. He impacts on Lovren and that makes him offside, but with the law the way it is you can argue it both ways.

Once Jon Moss comes across and has his discussion with Eddie Smart, they have to give the offside if they can’t be certain of what’s gone on. Everyone’s talking about Lovren, but if that’s deliberate then you can argue Wijnaldum’s touch has played him on too. If Lovren’s is deliberate, then are you going to give an indirect free-kick if his touch takes the ball back to the goalkeeper and he picks it up? If a deliberate act plays Kane onside, does it also become a deliberate pass back? The law is awful and we’re complicating things here, I believe it’s offside but you can argue it both ways because of the way the law is.

Anyway, Karius has caught Kane and it’s a penalty once you cut through the offside decision. I think Jon has lost his focus by the time of the second penalty, he wasn’t going to give that at the Kop End to Tottenham and you have to say Eddie Smart has showed a lot of courage to give that.

Jon should have seen the kick in the first place but well done to Eddie and in some respect well done to Jon for supporting his assistant referee. People are saying that’s offside but you’re talking about a toenail, you’re not going to give that.

Regarding Dele Alli, I wouldn’t criticise Jon for cautioning Alli but what you have to ask is has his momentum taken him to the ground? He’s still trying to play the ball off the floor and he’s not asking for a penalty. He has a reputation now but not every incident of a player going to ground inside the box has to be a caution.


Mike Dean (Watford vs Chelsea)

The assistant referee has done well on the penalty, he’s come in and said to Mike Dean it’s a penalty. What annoys me is the way Deulofeu goes down, you don’t need to go down like that and you’re running the risk of being done for deceiving a referee.

Mike was inconsistent with his cautions for reckless challenges and I thought Bakayoko was very unlucky. His first caution was very unlucky and it wasn’t a reckless challenge. Five minutes later he’s then sent Bakayoko off for a second caution and you can understand in real time Mike’s decision to caution him, but Mike could have managed the first incident a lot better.

Just have a word and then you can caution him for the second challenge, now all anyone is talking about is how harsh the red card was. Sometimes as referees we don’t help ourselves. Janmaat has deliberately blocked Pedro at one point and he goes for a word with Conte, then a few minutes later he comes back and cautions Richarlison. Is that because Conte had a word with him? You have to be mentally strong as a referee.

On Troy Deeney, the panel wasn’t unanimous, even though we’ve seen players banned for similar in the past.


You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey

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