Referees in the spotlight
Tottenham Hotspur completed the first set of 2017 Premier League fixtures with a 2-0 home win against Chelsea, thus bringing to an end Chelsea’s magnificent run of wins that had stretched to 13 games.
I was impressed with Spurs last night. I thought we gave them a really good game just before Christmas but they never looked as though they weren’t going to win that one against the league leaders.
Dele Alli got both goals to move above Manchester City and Arsenal into third place but Chelsea still have a five point lead at the top over Liverpool and must be clear favourites still to take the title.
At least the game wasn’t marred with the controversy of some others over the past three days as red cards came out, penalties were refused and the pundits had their say on referees Lee Mason, Mike Dean, Michael Oliver and Paul Tierney.
We can start with Mason. He’s a referee we’ve had history with but the two supposed controversial decisions in our game at Manchester City went our way. I don’t consider them controversial at all. The red card for Fernandinho was absolutely correct and Ben Mee’s goal was rightly given by the goal line technology.
After the game, Pep Guardiola made a complete fool of himself in the press conference and I have to say I cannot believe the brass neck of City to actually lodge an appeal against the red card. How on earth have the FA not deemed it a frivolous appeal?
On our way back from City we were listening to the game between West Ham and Manchester United on the radio. West Ham had Soufiane Feghouli sent off after no more than a quarter of an hour.
They also lodged an appeal and won it, rightly so; this was a shocker of a decision from Mike Dean (pictured) who I once rated one of our best referees. He’s not any longer and this is not the first time this season he’s made a major contribution to a result through his poor decision making.
If that wasn’t enough. Manchester United’s second goal in the 2-0 win, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic was offside, and it was not a close decision. I’m not sure what the assistant referee was doing to miss it but miss it he did. No wonder Slaven Bilic was having a melt down on the touchline.
Michael Oliver sent off Bournemouth’s Simon Francis against Arsenal. I think he got it right but it is not as clear cut as the Fernandinho card, that’s for sure. It didn’t look as though it would matter to be honest but what a finish to the game there with Arsenal coming back from 3-0 down to win a point in a 3-3 draw.
Over the years we’ve got used to Sam Allardyce’s excuses after a bad result. He had some as Crystal Palace went down at home against Swansea and certainly a couple of them were justified. His first whinge was the fact that Swansea had been given an extra 24 hours between games. It happens to most clubs at one time or other during a season and, as long as television are paying huge sums for the privilege, it will continue like that.
Where I do have sympathy with him is with the two penalties that they had refused, one for a foul by goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski and the second for a handball. I soon realised why they hadn’t been given; the referee was Paul Tierney and getting good decisions from him is not something we can ever rely on.
I accept it must be very difficult now to referee games with the pace of the game and certainly with every decision scrutinised and looked at from every possible angle; that’s before Dermot Gallagher has his two pennyworth on Sky. But some of the poor decisions this week have been just that and not difficult ones to get correct.
We’ve got a break now for the FA Cup but the Premier League returns a week on Saturday. The fixtures are below.
Gameweek 21 Fixtures
Saturday 14th January
Tottenham v West Brom (12:30 p.m.)
Burnley v Southampton
Hull v Bournemouth
Sunderland v Stoke
Swansea v Arsenal
Watford v Middlesbrough
West Ham v Crystal Palace
Leicester v Chelsea (5:30 p.m.)
Sunday 15th January
Everton v Manchester City (1:30 p.m.)
Manchester United v Liverpool (4 p.m.)