|Matteo Kovacic sees yellow after hacking down Arsenal's Martin Odegaard in City's 1-0 defeat at the Emirates on Sunday but replays show the Croat could have been sent off for the same offense. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
The Video Assistant Referee technology continues to receive criticism following recent events, but how did officiating perform in the English Premier League last weekend?
There were a couple of hiccups in the just-concluded weekend, but there were also lots of right calls to balance things out. Consistency is the most important request from fans and observers, but we look at three key incidents and the decisions that followed from the referee and the VAR.
Yves Bissouma’s stupidity was punished.
In the space of seven minutes, Tottenham midfielder Yves Bissouma got booked twice, but with all the outrage over referee inconsistencies, John Brooks deserves credit as he spotted Bissouma’s folly even from a distance.
What happened? The Spurs midfielder was on a yellow; he drove to the edge of the Luton box and went down unprovoked. John Brooks sent him off for a second bookable offence; VAR wouldn’t be able to intervene as it’s a second yellow, but it was the right call.
Pascal Gross escapes double jeopardy.
Anthony Taylor took a few seconds before pointing to the spot after Pascal Gross hacked down Dominic Szoboslai in the Brighton area on Sunday, and it was clear that the Brighton man made no attempt to play the ball, so why was he not sent off even as a last man?
What happened? Szoboslai darted across the goal with a simple tap-in, waiting to send Liverpool 2-1 up. Gross dragged him down, and Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot, but VAR decided against a straight red card. The excuse was that the Liverpool player wasn’t facing goal, but we’ve seen people score from tighter angles. Gross was lucky to stay on.
How did Kovacic stay on vs. Arsenal?
The talking point of the weekend was at the Emirates, where Arsenal finally beat Manchester City in the league after twelve straight losses against the champions, with Matteo Kovacic being excused from a possible red card by Michael Oliver.
What happened? In the 29th minute, Kovacic launched a reckless challenge at Martin Odegaard, and the on-field decision was a yellow card. Replays showed it was a little severe, but Kovacic survived. Six minutes later, Kovacic launched another mistimed challenge at Declan Rice, and Oliver refused to send him off.
Oliver is regarded as the best referee in England and not the type that makes rash decisions, but the two Kovacic tackles were reckless, and if they had happened off different players, each would have earned bookings, so why did Oliver pardon Kovacic?