The ‘Official’ Review: A look back at the weekend’s controversial decisions

Every week referees are under intense scrutiny for decisions made in Premier League games.  The margins for error are extremely small, and if a referee makes an incorrect decision, you can be assured that the aggrieved manager will have a few harsh words for the officials in his post match interview.

A refereeing decision can be the difference between a win or a loss, Champions League or relegation, hence why emotions surrounding incorrect decisions are so high. Such is the intense criticism of Premier League officials, top referees such as Mark Clattenburg have opted to ply their trade outside of England.

Each week we will be examining decisions made by Premier League referees in the previous match week, highlighting where referees have made right or wrong decisions during key moments of the game. We will also look into the proposal of video referee technology and examine whether or not it would benefit officials.

Goal line technology has been a huge success since its introduction at the beginning of the 2016/17 season and has already aided referees on numerous occasions. Surely then, its only a matter of time before we see another evolution in the officiating of Premier League matches.

Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool

Milner on Sterling: No foul

The biggest game of the weekend saw Michael Oliver take charge as Manchester City hosted Liverpool in a game that would have huge implications on the outcome of the top four. Tensions were extremely high and there were a number of flash-points, including Milner’s mistimed tackle on Sterling, who had an open goal at his mercy.

Source: Sky Sports

As Sterling steadied himself to shoot, he was impeded by a reckless tackle from James Milner, however the referee adjudged the tackle to be a fair one.

Having looked at this a number of times it is clearly a penalty, however in real time it is extremely hard to see.  Had the foul have been given, Milner surely would have seen red.

WHISTLE BLOWER VERDICT: On this occasion Michael Oliver made the wrong decision not to award a penalty kick to Manchester City. The use of video referee technology would have helped Oliver to make the correct decision.

Clichy on Firmino: Penalty

Clichy slips and finds himself the wrong side of Firmino, who is bearing down on goal.  The Manchester City man makes a clumsy attempt to win the ball inside the box and impedes the onrushing Firmino with a high foot.

Source: Sky Sports

Michael Oliver is quick to blow his whistle and point to the spot, awarding a penalty to Liverpool.  James Milner (who is lucky to still be on the pitch) steps up and converts.

WHISTLE BLOWER VERDICT: Michael Oliver was right to award a penalty for Liverpool.

Toure high foot: Yellow card

Another key moment during this game saw a reckless Yaya Toure lunge into Liverpool’s Emre Can with a dangerous high foot as both players slid in for the ball.

Source: Sky Sports

On a wet and slipper surface, it was clumsy rather than malicious from Toure.  Michael Oliver booked the player and warned him about his future conduct.

WHISTLE BLOWER VERDICT: Oliver made the correct decision to give the Manchester City man a yellow, rather than sending him off.

Everton 4-0 Hull City

Huddlestone: Red Card

Another one of the weekend’s key talking points. With the game poised at 1-0 with 13 minutes remaining, Tom Huddlestone lunges for the ball, with his studs raking down the leg of Idrissa Guyue.

Source: Sky Sports

The Everton man goes down clutching his leg, with Huddlestone appealing his innocence.  However referee Paul Tierney is quick to brandish the red card, much to the surprise of the Hull players.

Huddlestone deserved a card for this tackle, however you could argue that a yellow would have been justifiable given the lack of intent from the Hull City player.  On the other hand, lunging into a tackle with your studs up is deemed dangerous play.

WHISTLE BLOWER VERDICT: The referee was well within his right to send Huddlestone off for dangerous play.

READ MORE: Premier League Referee’s Statistics


Author: George Vines

Football Business & Media Studies; UCFB Wembley

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