Reviewing Mark Clattenburg’s Refereeing Decisions in the Liverpool-Man City Match

Referee Mark Clattenburg was kept very busy during Liverpool’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City, in what was a huge game in the race for the title. There were several key incidents, which could have benefitted both teams.

Firstly, Edin Dzeko was brought down after a clumsy tackle from Mahamadou Sakho in the penalty area. Dzeko did go down rather easily, similarly to last week, but I was surprised not to see a spot kick being awarded.

Later in the match, I was again expecting a penalty — but this time for Liverpool after City skipper Vincent Kompany seemed to push Luis Suarez to the floor. It was a somewhat theatrical fall from the Uruguayan, but a penalty should have been awarded. The only factor that can be used in Clattenburg’s defense is that Kompany was blocking his view of Suarez, making the decision a tough one to make, and of course, referees cannot guess. They can only go by what they, and their assistants, have seen.

At 3-2, near the end of a superb second half, Martin Skrtel appeared to punch the ball away from a long ball into the box. The picture clearly shows the Slovakian’s intentions. It’s cheating, to put it bluntly. And its a shame Clattenburg didn’t see it. However, with so many bodies flying to the ball, its very difficult to see Skrtel’s arm. City have every right to feel hard done by with that particular incident, which could have changed the result of the game, especially at such a late stage.

Suarez was again involved in further incidents and City claimed that he should have seen red. He was booked early into the game for a late and mistimed tackle. It was in an area of the pitch that a tackle of that nature was not required, especially as the ball was knocked into an open space, leaving Suarez a small amount of time to react. There can be no complaints from Liverpool on that decision.

The second incident is much more controversial. Suarez pushed the ball past Martin Demichelis and opted to run around the opposite side. On first look, in full speed, it looked like Suarez had dived and looked for the free kick. This freeze frame suggests that there was contact made by Demichelis’ back leg. For me though, Suarez was always looking for the free kick and used the trailing leg as a barrier, in order to fall to the ground. The contact is only visable at the slowest of speeds, so it is highly unlikely that the referee saw the incident. I would have sent Suarez off myself, looking at the real time in-play action as it looked like an awful dive.

Chico Flores was sent off for Swansea within 16 minutes of the first half against Chelsea. The first yellow was not contentious. Willian was starting a counter-attack when Flores brought him down. The second decision was called incorrectly by Phil Dowd, in my view. It was a foul on Andre Shurrle, but not reckless in any way. The usual pattern is a warning before the red card, but Dowd seemed to take a long time to think about it, and even told John Terry that he was doing so. A bad move. Referees should not get involved in player conversation over big decisions. Dowd then instantly showed a red card.

In the Crystal Palace-Aston Villa game, referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot after he judged that the ball connected with Ciaran Clark‘s arm, only to reverse his decision after consulting his assistant Scott Ledger. It was a mistake from Webb to give the penalty, but the right decision was eventually awarded.

Finally, Danny Rose won a penalty for Spurs, when his side was 3-0 down at The Hawthorns after a foul in the box. It was a simple decision for Neil Swarbrick, who had no hesitation in providing Spurs the chance to get back into the game. It’s a foul every time outside the box, so it is inside. Not sure why a white line makes a huge difference in honesty. The game is played on the same piece of turf, after all.

15 thoughts on “Reviewing Mark Clattenburg’s Refereeing Decisions in the Liverpool-Man City Match”

  1. Fairly done.

    I thought Sturridge was caught in the first half in the box, but it didn’t get a replay/discussion on MOTD in either country. Maybe I was seeing things.

  2. I actually thought clattenburg reffed a great game until about halfway thru the second half. At which point suarez ABSOLUTELY shouldve walked for one of his 2 dives.
    Then there were 2 Skrtel incidents. The punch was atrocious and absolutely a penalty. Then on another corner about the same time, Skrtel had both arms around Fernandinho and was grabbing Kompany’s shirt, effectively restraining both illegally.

    All the other non-calls against both teams i agreed with but the above incidents left me very disappointed.

    However the blame for the loss for me is on Pellegrini for not starting Milner, and pulling Dzeko when we were finally on top.

    1. Totally agree. Clattenburg knew Suarez dived but froze. If a player just falls but isn’t fouled, I sort of understand not booking him but if the player grabs his leg or ankle and rolls in fake pain, there should be absolutely no hesitation in carding him. Suarez did the latter and should have been off.

    2. It was good to see a game with such importance and potential to be a fantastic exhibit, which it was, without being littered with needless cards and game changing antics. Good game by ref.

      1. The ref awarded a free kick to City when Suarez went down, why did he give a free kick to city??? He gave it for diving nothing else which is a booking. But no doubt someone will come up for another reason but I’d love to hear it! Free kick was for simulation the ref bottled it the full game if he’d of given Suarez a pen that would of been comical he dropped to the floor with the wind he’s simply a cheat

  3. Skrtel has been able to get away with grabbing and pulling and now forearm punch outs all season. Why start calling it now. I am a neutral no dog in the fight. Diving is a yellow except when it could get you sent off.

    1. Why not? That would stop the diving really quick.

      For example neymar got ramos sent off with an atrocious dive. Why shouldnt he get sent off for trying to get an opponent off?

  4. Skrtel gave away a penalty earlier in February when he mauled Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony in the box. Referee Mike Jones made the correct call that day at Anfield.

    More officiating like that should result in less shirt-pulling and penalty-box theatrics. And that’s something most fans want to see…

  5. Come on, it isn’t like Skertl knifed the guy. :^P

    The handball was blatant, but was extremely hard to catch in real time. No way should that Suarez “dive” count as a second yellow as his first yellow was a little weak. There may have been contact. The replays were inconclusive.

    Overall, I think the ref did pretty well. It was a hard game to call. Honestly, after the Sterling call from Boxing Day, Man City have little to complain about. They are even.

    1. You do know that diving is a yellow right? And you do know that catching a player after the ball has gone is also the same? The one bad call by the liner not the ref at the Etihad was totally and comically eclipsed by 4 against City at Anfield

  6. Sakho mistimed his kick on the ball and completely missed it. He wasn’t going for a tackle on Dzeko. Once Dzeko noticed what happened he deliberately made contact with Sakho and went down easily. Good no call by the referee.

    Demichelis did make contact with Suarez and Suarez’s momentum was broken and he went off-balance so he decided to go down easily. There was no intention by Demichelis to bring down Suarez so there was no foul and Suarez did not blatantly go down so again a good no call by the referee.

    Skrtyl’s handball should have been a penalty for City even though he wasn’t looking at the ball but he did reach his hand out. I don’t think the referee saw it but I’m wondering if his assistant did.

    Fair play to Pellegrini who said he thought they should have had a penalty at the end but also said they did not lose because of the referee. Given the stakes involved one has to admire him for his comments. Had City taken a couple of chances they had to go ahead they could have won the game. Not taking those chances is why they lost.

    Phil Dowd was swayed by Chelsea players and their manager and assistants who were all over the 4th official. He initially wasn’t going to give Flores a second yellow but after all the complaining from Chelsea, and Terry admitted to being the one that influenced the referee, Dowd finally decided to give Flores his second yellow card. It was harsh since Flores did not intentionally bring down Shurrle.

  7. To suggest that Skrtel meant to hit the ball with his hand is dishonest. To call it cheating is just plain outrageous. It’s unnatural to jump in the air with your arms by your side. The ball obviously accidently hit his arm.

  8. The Skrtel handball wasn’t intentional. Sakho jumped a split second later under Skrtel and lifted his arm with his head. Accidental handball, but handball none the less. Should have been a penalty.

    As for him shirt pulling antics, throughout the season he’s obviously been doing it, but you see it in every game, from every team all the time and it rarely gets punished.

    Suarez will go down anytime he feels contact, it’s just who he is, unless he feels he is through on goal. He frustrates me at times but he’s a great footballer. There is contact, not enough to put him down I feel, he did go to ground too easy looking for a free kick. His first yellow, accidental, shouldn’t have really been deemed a yellow card with it being so early on in the game. He was caught by the same player minutes before but nothing was given, I don’t think even a replay was shown.

    Kompany definitely shoved him heavily enough to take him off the ball and knock him off balance, that should have been a penalty.

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