Premier League Refereeing
Another weekend of football means that Premier League refereeing is scrutinised to the nth degree. While some of the criticisms given to officials are harsh and unjust, there were a few calls this weekend which questioned what on earth the referees were seeing when trying to manage their respective games.
When Scott McTominay got absolutely clattered into by Terence Kongolo of Huddersfield, there was no immediate stoppage in play. The referee, Stuart Attwell, instead waved play on until he realised that McTominay was not getting to his feet and the Manchester United medical staff were waiting to sprint onto the pitch to attend the Scot.
Even after seeing the aftermath of the challenge, Attwell did not decide to give a penalty, nor a yellow card, nor any sort of punishment. He barely even spoke to Kongolo about the hideous and incredibly dangerous tackle. It was a poor show throughout the match from Attwell as Alexis Sánchez was hacked to bits for the entirety of the match and yet only four yellow cards were awarded.
In the Liverpool game against Tottenham, referee Jonathan Moss took centre stage as he wrongly awarded Harry Kane a penalty after diving and deceiving the officials. It was a blatant dive and the England forward should be ashamed of his antics.
One positive moment from Moss was his ability to listen to his linesman in rightly giving a penalty to Spurs in the dying embers of the match after £75m defender Virgil van Dijk was reckless in his challenge on Erik Lamela. The Dutchman swiped his leg in the aim to get the ball, but instead caught Lamela and the Argentine rightfully went down and the penalty was given.
Overall, Premier League officiating is going down the gutter and something needs to change immediately.
Mo Salah mesmeric
The two best players in the Premier League this season have been Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. It is hard to pick a winner so far, given how both have not only been instrumental to their own team’s performances, but the quality they consistently bring to the pitch.
Once again, the Egyptian forward found his name on the scoresheet after another brilliant and mesmerising performance. Salah was rather fortuitous with how he was played through on goal by Eric Dier, but he made sure he hit the target and his shot across the face of goal was too good for Hugo Lloris.
What was special though was Salah’s second goal; a goal he thought would have been enough for the three points given it came in the 91st minute of the game.
The former Roma star picked up the ball just outside the box on the right-hand side, weaving in and out of defenders. The ball ran away from him as he tried to get past two in one swift motion, but as Spurs’ defenders seemingly stopped, Salah was quick enough to see the space on the byline, jockey inside, beat two defenders and lift the ball over Lloris.
It was a magnificent goal and one that was worthy to win any game – but fate did not let that happen on this occasion.
Alex Sánchez will always have his critics
It seems that no matter what Sánchez does, there will always be criticism coming his way. His home debut against Huddersfield was no different as some critics picked up on the fact that he lost possession a record number of times throughout the 90 minutes.
In the three games Sánchez has played for his new team, Manchester United, he has been Man of the Match in two of them. Against Spurs, admittedly, he was poor, but as was the rest of the team, and it was not for a lack of effort that prevented him stamping his mark on the game.
There seems to be some incessant focus on how many times Sánchez is losing possession of the ball now. Whether it is Arsenal fans being bitter over losing their best player to a rival, or Man United fans over analysing the statistic, it seems to be the new trend.
The Chilean is a magnificent player and has been a driving force for the Red Devils since arriving in January. A reason as to why he might be losing possession more frequently than others is because he is a risky player – he plays right on the edge and demands perfection.
Some times he will try things that do not come off, and other times they will come off. But it is those times that do come off that are worth waiting for and being patient over, because they are truly exquisite moments of play. Manchester United need more risk takers in the team and not have players just idly passing sideways.
Sánchez can take the team forward and he simply has to carry on playing the way he is.
Brighton are the lower-table winners
Chris Hughton’s Brighton side put in a mighty shift to enable them to put a little bit of breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone with a win against West Ham.
It was not the prettiest of games, but one goal, from Colombian winger José Izquierdo, stunned the Amex stadium as he found the back of the net from a seemingly impossible angle to beat Adrian.
The goal itself will be up for the Goal of the Season awards come May, but it might have done more than that as it helped ease the nerves of Brighton’s players as they regained the lead from the Hammers.
From 11th place to 20th there is a margin of seven points. From 11th to being relegated, that margin narrows to just three points. The relegation dog fight is where eyes should be at this season, and it promises to live up to expectations with such a congested table.
Arsenal always perform when there’s no pressure
Arsenal played magnificently to appease the fans after a demolition job took place at the Emirates against Everton. 5-1 was the end score, but it could have reached double digits.
Sam Allardyce has not had a poorer game as a manager for a long time, with Everton’s performance lacking any sort of substance or will to contest an Arsenal side that had lost some senior members of their team in January.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoyed stellar home debuts for the Gunners, but it was always going to go this way for Arsène Wenger’s new recruits.
Arsenal always feel most comfortable when there is little to no pressure on them. They are not competing for the title and a top four finishing place looks a stretch at this point in time. We have seen, year after year, Arsenal compete in the first half of the season, and then quickly dwindle before reluctantly ending their season in February.
With Tottenham’s draw against Liverpool, there could be a chance for the Gunners to stage a late comeback into the top four race, but they have to go to Wembley and secure the three points.
It is by no means an easy task, but a better judge of the new signings will be against their bitter rivals Spurs in what will be a very high pressurised match.