Last weekend so several big clashes at the bottom of the league plus the current champions facing the champions to be. So of course we need youaretheref.com’s Mark Halsey to talk us through a busy weekend of refereeing action.
First and foremost I’d like to start my column by offering my condolences to the friends and family of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori for the terrible news we heard earlier this week.
Chris Kavanagh (Burnley vs Everton)
He’s a good prospect, very much like when Michael Oliver came onto the scene, he’s just got to be wary of the battles going on around him. If you don’t nip them in the bud then it escalates and gets to what happened with Ashley Williams towards the end of the game.
The red card is about interpretation, Chris has to decide if it’s violent conduct or reckless use of the arm. I wouldn’t criticise Chris for sending him off but I think a more experienced referee would have shown him a caution. He hasn’t led with his elbow or clenched his first, it’s more a “get off me” flailing arm. But when you raise your arms like that you do run the risk, although I don’t think many would have complained if he’d produced a caution.
Lee Probert (Leicester City vs Bournemouth)
You’ve got to get yourself in a position you can see those offences, if Bournemouth get that penalty it could be game over.
Martin Atkinson (Swansea City vs West Ham United)
You know what you’re going to get from Martin, he’s very experienced and very rarely do you see him make an error. The players trust his decision making and there’s no arguments from West Ham because it’s a clear penalty to Swansea and Martin’s rightly awarded it.
Kevin Friend (Tottenham Hotspur vs Huddersfield Town)
It’s difficult when you’re called up late to a game. It never happened to me but 45 minutes before kick-off you don’t have a lot of time to get ready for the game when the referee pulls out for one reason or another.
It’s a potential banana skin, Kevin’s missed an absolute nailed on penalty for Son Heung-Min and Kevin’s too far away. He’s running around the back of players and he’s ended up looking through a whole host of bodies, he’s no chance of seeing it because it’s such poor positioning from Kevin.
Graham Scott (Liverpool vs Newcastle United)
I’ve always said Jurgen Klopp gets away with running up and down that touchline shouting at people and there’s no need for it.
Graham was involved in the controversy in the Tottenham vs Rochdale game last week because he was the VAR and could spot a little foul but couldn’t spot the foul on Salah at the end of this game.
As a referee, when you’ve got a prolific scorer like Salah going through one-on-one you always ask yourself why is he going to go down? The players wants to score and is capable of scoring so I don’t know why Graham hasn’t given the free-kick and a red card for Lascelles.
Stuart Attwell (Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal)
He was a little bit naive, his recognition of careless and reckless wasn’t good enough for a referee at that level. Dale Stephens has made a fantastic challenge who he’s cautioned, then five minutes later you’ve got Kolasinac and as soon as it happens you think to yourself it’s a nailed on caution for a reckless challenge.
Stuart let too much go, he didn’t manage the tempo of the game and there were a lot of niggling battles going on around the pitch, similar to what I said about Chris Kavanagh earlier on. If players see you’re not taking action on certain infringements then they’ll take the law into their own hands and we saw that on Sunday.
Michael Oliver (Manchester City vs Chelsea)
You can only referee what’s in front of you and this wasn’t the toughest big game to be in charge of. In refereeing terms we call the Zinchenko challenge an orange and maybe a less experienced referee would have sent him off, but Michael handled it well. The players like him and respect him but this wasn’t a difficult game to manage.
Neil Swarbrick (Crystal Palace vs Manchester United)
Neil had a good game, he wasn’t fussy and he let a good game flow. He missed a couple of little things but it was a good solid performance and that’s what you get from Neil, a good solid performance.
VAR at the World Cup
It hasn’t been tested enough at these big FIFA tournaments. The World Cup is the biggest tournament in the world but it was an absolute shambles at the Confederations Cup last year.
Team that with how it’s been used in England so far and I’m just not sure we’re ready for it. You’re going to have referees there who have no experience of VAR so we have to make sure we get everything right, we have to follow the protocols because what we’re not seeing at the moment is those protocols being followed by referees.
The training has to be first class for referees in VAR leading up to the tournament or else it will be a disaster. The other problem is a lot of the referees are mates and are they just looking after their mates by not getting involved as much. They’re not there to look after their mates, they’re there to find clear and obvious errors.
We’ve got to embrace VAR but it’s going to take a while and I just don’t think we’re ready for it at a World Cup yet.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey