Ref Review: Bailly brainless, Liverpool star lucky not to see red

Eric Bailly was one of the most deserved recipients of a red card in 2018 – but Sadio Mane was arguably lucky not to follow suit, according to the last Ref Review of the year.


Refereeing decisions are regularly the source of debate among fans, pundits, players and managers so this season TEAMtalk’s ‘Ref Review’ panel will be passing judgement on every red card (or avoidance of one), every penalty  (or avoidance of one) and any other major incident in each Premier League match.

We may be in the day and age of goalline technology, while VAR made its appearance at the World Cup, but football remains littered with controversies.

We’ll also decide on a weekly basis which side can consider themselves lucky and which was the easiest decision for a match official to make.


Harry Kane goal v Wolves

Kane scored an absolute thunderbolt with his ‘wrong’ foot at Wembley on Saturday but Wolves perhaps had a case for Ivan Cavaleiro being fouled in the build up. Stuart Atwell elected to wave play on however and Kane then slammed home his post-Christmas cracker from fully 30 yards. Cavaleiro may have been be impeded on halfway, though it was by no means a blatant foul and would have taken a brave ref to give it and deny the watching fans and Kane such a fabulous goal.

Verdict: Correct decision


Harry Kane yellow card v Wolves

He may have won an MBE in 2018 and a World Cup Golden Boot, but Kane suffered a rather ignominious end to the year as Spurs lost 3-1 at home to Wolves. Worse still he was booked for simulation on 81 minutes after taking a rather ludicrous tumble after tangling with Ivan Cavaleiro. Ref Stuart Atwell showed no hesitation in brandishing the yellow card, and rightly so as Kane went over far too easily.

Verdict: Correct decision


Jurgen Locadia goal v Everton

Jurgen Locadia

Locadia’s instinctive strike just before the hour mark was enough to seal a precious victory for Brighton, but ref Andrew Madley kept the fans at the Amex in suspense as he first consulted with his assistant before awarding the goal. Happily the right call was made and, quite correctly, the goal stood.

Verdict: Correct decision


Fulham penalty v Huddersfield Town

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara were involved in an astonishing bust up over who should take Fulham’s late penalty at Craven Cottage. Kamara won the argument, then missed the penalty, much to the dismay of his teammates and boss Claudio Ranieri. It was Chris Lowe who was judged to have handled an effort from Kamara in the area and replays confirmed Lowe’s arm was in an unnatural position.

Verdict: Correct decision


Sadio Mane reaction to Stephan Lichtsteiner

Crucial moment very early on at Anfield as Mane seemed to aggressively put both hands around Lichtsteiner’s neck, possibly in retaliation to a stray elbow (or shoulder challenge depending on your viewpoint). However Mane regained his composure just in time with referee Michael Oliver hovering. It went unpunished by the official but Mane can consider himself fortunate, with the FA also deeming ‘the choke’ not worthy of retrospective action.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Crystal Palace penalty appeal v Chelsea

Muted appeals for a spot-kick early on at Selhurst Park as Cesar Azpilicueta and Wilfried Zaha tussled in the area after Andros Townsend whipped in a delightful ball from the right. However despite calls from the home fans, Craig Pawson nonchalantly waved away the penalty claims. To be fair to the whistler there was precious little in it and not a lot in terms of an appeal from Zaha either.

Verdict: Correct decision


Southampton penalty appeal v Manchester City

Big, big moment potentially in the title race as with the score at St Mary’s locked at 1-1 and Southampton firmly on top, Saints fans screamed in unison for a spot-kick! It was City’s full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko who was under the microscope once again as James Ward-Prowse hit the deck under his challenge. Paul Tierney was unmoved however and he was in a great position. There didn’t look to be enough in it to warrant a foul and if anything Ward-Prowse may have been lucky to get away without a yellow card.

Verdict: Correct decision


Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg red card v Manchester City

Really poor, and frankly unnecessary challenge by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. He had no need to go to ground as Fernandinho was running out of options but it was a brutal challenge and a clear red card.

Verdict: Correct decision


Eric Bailly red card v Bournemouth

A late candidate for the most brainless red of 2018 this. The Red Devils were cruising at 4-1 so there was just no need for Bailly to steam in with a challenge on Ryan Fraser right out of the Sunday Leagues. Whether there was contact or not you just can’t leave the ground like he did and fly in, and Bailly will now cop a three-match ban for his troubles.

Verdict: Correct decision


Team most likely to feel brassed off award


Let’s have it right the Gunners were pretty shambolic during Saturday’s 5-1 mauling at Anfield but if the referee had clocked Mane’s attempt to briefly strangle Lichtsteiner and sent him off, it’s one hundred per cent a different game. That said, Stan Kroenke has to wake up and start investing properly to address the long-standing flaws in this Arsenal squad.


Stonewall decision of the Week

Hojbjerg red card

It was a bit surreal to hear Southampton fans booing Bernardo Silva for copping an elbow in the eye while clapping Hojbjerg off after seeing red for a properly horrendous tackle on Fernandinho. We can only think it was the sea air, as Hojbjerg’s lunge was two-footed and wild.