VAR at the centre of things once again, plus big penalty calls at Arsenal and Liverpool in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

It was a bumper week of action as the FA Cup took precedent and the availability (and unavailability) of VAR once again took centre stage before a topsy-turvy 24 hours of Premier League action gives Mark Halsey plenty to browse over…


Craig Pawson (Arsenal vs Manchester United)

Craig refereed the game well, there were no major incidents to precide over and it was a credit to both sets of players. He handled the incident at the end well, it was two cautions and VAR obviously thought that was correct as well.


Jon Moss (Accrington Stanley vs Derby County & Manchester United vs Burnley)

John Coleman said there was a foul leading up to their goal and maybe he’s right but for me a referee of Jon Moss’s experience should be managing situations better.

Barlaser can have no complaints on the first caution but on the second one, not every challenge and not every foul has to be a caution. A referee of his experience should have managed that better. The ball is there to be won and I don’t think that’s a reckless challenge.

He got the Derby red card spot on. He knew what he was doing, it was a clear goal-scoring opportunity and there’s no issue with that sending off at all.


In the Manchester United game he’s awarded a penalty to Jesse Lingard. In this day and age you’ve always got to be careful and if you look at Hendrick’s reaction he’s thinking ‘Oh no’. When you put your hand on the shoulder you run the risk of giving Jon a decision to make and unfortunately for Burnley he gave the penalty. Hendrick didn’t need to do that and he’s only got himself to blame.


Michael Oliver (Millwall vs Everton)

I’m one of those who believes if you’re going to use VAR then it has to be used every game or no game. It brings the integrity of the FA Cup into question because Everton should have been going back to Goodison for a replay. It was handball, everyone saw it but I do feel for Michael because there were lots of players in the way, if anything Simon Bennett should have had a better view but they’ll all be disappointed.


Andre Marriner (Chelsea vs Sheffield Wednesday & Southampton vs Crystal Palace)

VAR was used in this one and Andre and the VAR got things right in the end but everywhere else in the world referees are going to view the monitor for subjective decisions because that’s an IFAB protocol. I know why they’re not doing it because they want to cut the time it takes but we’re the only ones not doing that.

We’re going to have inconsistencies because it’s the VAR making the key match decisions and not the referee because the referee is only relying on the VAR and the protocol states the referee must make the final decision and if it’s appropriate to go and view the monitor then he can do.

In Andre’s Premier League match, Jack Stephens can count himself very, very lucky that Andre hasn’t recognised that as a challenge that endangered the player’s safety and he didn’t even give a foul. Matt Targett has made a similar challenge and Andre’s missed that one too, both players could have seen red and Andre didn’t recognise either challenge. He’s not had the best few weeks but like players they can’t be at their best every game.

On Zaha, irrespective of the fact he should have had a free-kick, you can’t go around doing that. He’s adopted an aggressive attitutde towards Ward-Prowse and then he’s clapped the referee so he can’t really have any complaints.


Stuart Attwell (Huddersfield Town vs Everton)

Stuart was spot on and had absolutely no choice to send Digne off. A lot of people said there was no intent in the challenge but intent isn’t in the laws of the game. He’s denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and Stuart was absolutely right to dismiss the player from the field of play.


Mike Dean (Arsenal vs Cardiff City)

Arsenal definitely could have had a penalty before they eventually got one. He’s gone down the back of Lacazette, it’s a foul challenge and Mike just hasn’t recognised it. Cardiff’s wasn’t as obvious as Arsenal’s in my opinion. It was one of those where you can understand Mike not giving it because not every piece of contact is a foul.

The penalty that was given was spot on and when you’ve got Neil Warnock coming on TV to criticise his defender then you definitely know it’s a penalty!


Paul Tierney (Newcastle United vs Manchester City)

There was a lot of talk about Man City’s disallowed goal but you always tell the player to wait. He’s got to make sure the wall is back and then get into a good position for when the ball comes into that danger zone. He was spot on to have the kick retaken but I don’t think he needed to caution De Bruyne, he definitely could have managed that better.

You can’t complain on the penalty. It’s a clear foul by Fernandinho and it was a simple one for Paul to give.


Martin Atkinson (Liverpool vs Leicester City)

I thought Keita should have had a penalty. His foot’s been kicked, Martin was in a good position and I’m surprised he didn’t recognise that. I thought he got the Maguire/Mane incident right because there’s doubt there. There’s a doubt of Mane regaining control of the ball and there’s distance to the goal so I’d agree with Martin to only award Maguire a caution.


Graham Scott (Tottenham Hotspur vs Watford)

Tottenham should have had a nailed on penalty for a foul on Lucas Moura and Graham just hasn’t read the challenge and I think only he can tell us why he hasn’t given a penalty.


You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey

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