There were significantly more controversial decisions this weekend, compared to last week, so here are my opinions on some of the key decisions.
In Tottenham‘s 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light, Spurs midfielder Sandro looked to have handled the ball in the box from a corner kick. For me, his arm was not in a natural position and the man in the middle, Lee Mason, did not make the correct call. I personally think that there is too much inconsistency with handballs. The laws state it has to be “deliberate”. There are very few incidents where players deliberately handle the ball, so the law needs rewording and changed to whether the position of the arm is in a natural position. This would make it much clearer for referees and reduce the inconsistency.
Kevin Nolan was shown a red card in West Ham‘s 4-1 defeat at Anfield on Saturday after a very late tackle on Jordan Henderson. Referee Michael Oliver was 100% correct with his decision, as Nolan dragged his studs down the back of Henderson’s leg. Serious foul play.
Despite Hammers boss Sam Allardyce agreeing with Oliver’s decision to dismiss Nolan, he claimed that Liverpool youngster John Flanagan should have also seen red in the early stages of the game for a similar type of tackle on ex-Red Stewart Downing. I disagree. Although Flanagan tackled from behind and caught Downing on the back of the leg, the intensity of the tackle was nowhere near that of Nolan’s and I believe that Flanagan was making a genuine attempt for the ball, whereas Nolan was not.
Norwich changed their fortunes on the road after a 7-0 drubbing at the Etihad and a 4-0 defeat against Liverpool in their last 2 away games, with a 2-0 win at The Hawthorns. Although West Bromwich Albion were on top for most of the game, Norwich took their chances well, which was mixed with good defending. At 1-0, WBA had a corner that was headed towards goal and Martin Olsson’s post. The ball appeared to be stopped by the arm of the Swedish international. Again, similar to Sandro, Olsson’s arm was in an unnatural position and as the ball moved closer to goal, Olsson’s arm moved towards the ball, preventing a goal. Therefore, a penalty and a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity should have been awarded by Mark Clattenburg, but you have to have some sympathy with Clattenburg, as the incident was the opposite side of the linesman and it was very difficult to spot in real time speed.
Finally this week, Fulham were awarded a penalty in their 2-0 home win against Aston Villa. Alex Kacaniklic was adjudged to be brought down by Leandro Bacuna. Referee Mike Dean had a very good view of the incident, but gave the penalty when it looked like Kacaniklic moved into Bacuna and not the other way round. The Swedish winger can count himself lucky for being awarded the penalty.
Editor’s note: Browse through the previous weeks of key Premier League refereeing decisions.