Ref Review: Man Utd get help from under-fire Attwell; Arsenal controversy

Manchester United got the rub of the green over the weekend, while there were plenty of controversial decisions in the north London derby, all in Ref Review.

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.

Granit Xhaka tackle on Harry Kane

Harry Kane TEAMtalk

There were a few genuine moments of controversy in Saturday’s north London derby and the first was Xhaka not receiving his marching orders for what looked a cynical, nasty foul from the behind on Harry Kane. The England man was heading towards goal when Xhaka lunged in and raked him down the back of his leg from behind. Kane was felled by a knee-high sliding tackle and so Xhaka could have had few complaints if he had been shown a straight red. Amazingly Anthony Taylor did not even see it as a foul, much to the dismay of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who said afterwards: “It should have been a yellow, amber or even red (for Xhaka), but it wasn’t even a foul.”

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Tottenham penalty v Arsenal

This was a huge talking point. And while the initial consensus was that Harry Kane was offside prior to being brought down in the area and winning a penalty, the rules suggest this was actually not the case. FA rules state that if “a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence.” Ergo in the eyes of the officials Kane was not yet playing or attempting to play the ball when fouled by Shokran Mustafi.

Verdict: Correct decision


Arsenal penalty v Tottenham

Arsenal were awarded a penalty very late on at Wembley and Pierre-Emerick Aumameyang was presented with a golden opportunity to win it for the Gunners. His penalty was pretty woeful however and was kept out easily enough by Hugo Lloris. However replays clearly showed Jan Vertonghen running so far inside the box before Aubameyang had struck the ball it looked at one point like the Spurs man was going to take the spot-kick himself! It definitely should have been retaken as according to the Fifa laws of the game, a penalty must be retaken if a defender enters the penalty area and the kick does not result in a goal.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Lucas Torreira red card v Tottenham

Lucas Torreira TEAMtalk

Arsenal midfielder Torreira was given a straight red card deep into second-half stoppage time of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wembley. But was it warranted?

The Uruguay international flew into a tackle on Danny Rose and clearly caught him on the leg. Arsenal fans were furious with the decision however as Torreira did get his foot on the ball before he connected with Tottenham’s left-back. Anthony Taylor paused for a moment before brandishing the red, but under the circumstances perhaps a yellow would have been a more suitable punishment.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Southampton penalty appeal v Manchester United

Ryan Bertrand Chris Smalling TEAMtalk

The Saints played well at Old Trafford and even though they scored twice they should also have had a penalty early on when Ryan Bertrand had his shirt pulled by Chris Smalling. The England defender was clearly pulling the Saints player back in the area but Stuart Attwell – who was well placed – was having none of it.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Ryan Bertrand 2nd penalty appeal

Bertrand was denied another penalty when he ran across Ashley Young, who grabbed the wrist of Betrand pulling him down. Attwell missed it and played on.


Manchester United penalty v Southampton

A penalty was eventually awarded at Old Trafford and it went to the hosts late on as Marcus Rashford went down in the area after tangling with Stuart Armstrong. To be fair the award looked a little soft for us as Armstrong didn’t seem to do an awful lot wrong and the Saints man can count himself unlucky.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Watford penalty appeal v Leicester City

Watford had a few penalty appeals in the second half of their clash with the Foxes but the strongest by far came when Wilfred Ndidi wasn’t penalised for a foul on Gerard Deulofeu. It really did look a clear foul and there were plenty of boos for whistler Jon Moss, who somehow didn’t spot the infringement.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Fulham disallowed goal v Chelsea

Ryan Sessegnon TEAMtalk

Fulham gave it a real go against Chelsea on Sunday and thought they had grabbed a point in injury-time when Ryan Sessegnon fired home. Craven Cottage erupted but a flag went up for offside. It was a very, very close call as Sessegnon finished from close range, but replays showed it was probably the right decision.

Verdict: Correct decision


Liverpool penalty appeal v Everton

Memorable moments were thin on the ground during Sunday’s disappointing Merseyside derby but Trent Alexander-Arnold showed truly amazing pace to eat up 50 yards in a single gallop and his eventual cross was blocked by Kurt Zouma. It hit him on the arm and Liverpool asked for a penalty more in hope than in expectation. However Zouma had his hand down by his side so there was not a chance of a penalty being awarded.

Verdict: Correct decision


Team most likely to feel brassed off award

Unai Emery TEAMtalk


The officials seemed to get a few key decisions wrong at Wembley but of the two clubs, Arsenal will have felt most annoyed. Lucas Torreira’s red looked anything but clear cut and Harry Kane’s penalty award – while ultimately correct – was hugely controversial. The cherry on the cake was Jan Vertonghen being several yards inside the area as Aubameyang made contact with his last ditch penalty.


Stonewall decision of the Week

Sessegnon offside v Chelsea

On a weekend where very few of the key decisions seemed clear cut, and plenty were just wrong, the officials at Craven Cottage deserve some credit for ruling out Sessegnon‘s injury-time effort against Chelsea. Even interim boss Scott Parker admitted afterwards: “I am sitting here thinking 2-2 would have been a fair result. Sessegnon looked offside, it was minimal but the right call.”