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.