This weekend’s Premier League fixtures had the least amount of controversial refereeing decisions for a very long time. A good weekend for the officials in that respect, but there were still a few incidents where further punishment could have been taken.
Firstly, Juan Mata was fouled in the box during Man Utd’s 4-1 victory against Aston Villa. Mata was put through after a superb ball by Shinji Kagawa. Mata was just left of goal, on the edge of the six yard box, when Leandro Bacuna clumsily came from behind and took Mata’s legs from beneath him.
Referee Martin Atkinson awarded the spot kick without hesitation and brandished a yellow card almost immediately, but I think there was a case for a red card. Mata was just about to pull the trigger and strike the ball at the goal. Therefore, it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Despite the fact that there were defenders covering in the middle, a shot at goal is a goal scoring opportunity, especially when the ball is so close to goal.
In the Crystal Palace-Chelsea game, Gary Cahill challenged Yannick Bolasie in the penalty area in the first half of Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park and seemed to take the ball on first viewing, but replays later showed that Cahill went through the back of the Congo international without getting a foot on the ball legally. Referee Lee Mason didn’t deem that there was a foul, but Palace should have had the chance to score a goal before the eventual winner, which came from John Terry’s head.
In the same game, Jose Mourinho was very unhappy and frustrated at the speed at which a Palace ball boy took to return the ball to the field. Mourinho confronted the young lad, and was quoted as saying to him, in his post match press conference:
“I had a chance to get the kid and the kid was cute and I told him ‘you do this, one day somebody punches you.’”
I am surprised that he has escaped punishment for this. Mourinho left his technical area and used poor language, which would only make the young ball boy feel intimidated. Referee Lee Mason didn’t report this in his review of the game, but The FA should be able to act retrospectively on this. Mourinho was correct in thinking that the ball return was slow, but he would have probably been told, as would the rest of the ball boys, to slow the game down, where possible, which isn’t right.