The start of the new Barclays Premier League season brought goals, shocks as well red cards, meaning that the officials were given no time to settle in and get used to their new vanishing spray.
There were 3 red cards over the weekend, all of which were totally justified. However, Kyle Naughton’s dismissal in the game between West Ham and Spurs at Upton Park was the most contentious call. Referee Chris Foy spotted what looked like a fair block on first look, but closer replays showed that the ball struck Naughton’s arm, which was raised and in front of goal, therefore denying a goal scoring opportunity, giving Foy no option but to send the left back off.
Jason Puncheon also saw red in Crystal Palace‘s agonizing last minute defeat to Arsenal. Puncheon was already on a yellow when he made a late, reckless attempt for the ball on Nacho Monreal. It was a poor challenge and despite his teammates best efforts to steal a point, it wasn’t enough to deny Arsenal winning the game. Puncheon has to take a considerable part of the blame for not understanding the game situation after being booked earlier on by referee Jon Moss.
The third red card was again at Upton Park but this time it was a Hammers player who was sent for an early bath. West Ham’s James Collins was booked for a late challenge in the first half, not long before deliberately blocking a Spurs player off, again giving referee Chris Foy limited options. It’s pleasing to see the referees getting big red card decisions right this early on in the season. Lets hope it continues.
Although there were some good decisions, there were also some poor calls. The worst of which was from referee Neil Swarbrick who gave an incredibly soft penalty to WBA‘s Victor Anichebe during the Baggies’ 2-2 draw with Sunderland. There was a small coming together between Anichebe and Valentin Roberge but I still can’t quite understand why a penalty was awarded. Everybody, including WBA boss Alan Irvine, was bemused.
Another soft penalty came at Loftus Road between QPR and Hull when James Chester was penalized for handball by ref Craig Pawson, but there was clearly no intent from the defender, whose hands were by his side. Pawson, who is relatively newcomer to the Premier League, was in a great position but called it wrongly. Luckily, QPR missed the resulting spot kick.
Finally, West Brom were denied a goal after help from the assistant referee after he spotted a foul on Vito Mannone. It was soft, but he was knocked off balance when attempting to clear the ball, so I can see the reasoning behind the decision. The goal-line technology system did confirm that Craig Dawson scored, which would have helped enormously had there been no foul.