Premier League review: Dodgy decisions tarnish thrilling games

Alex Sharp looks back at another action-packed weekend of Premier League football, as the referees took centre stage

Alex Sharp
By Alex Sharp
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Refereeing decisions overshadowed an enthralling weekend of Premier League action

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Referees have an almost impossible and thankless task in the Premier League these days – but this weekend a hat-trick of bloopers tarnished some enthralling encounters.

Firstly, Phil Dowd rewarded the damaging act of diving which continues to decay the integrity of the beautiful game. Sebastian Larsson launched into a spectacular dive late on during Wolves’ 2-1 victory over Sunderland and won a penalty.

The spot-kick was saved and sparked an immediate fightback led by the impressive Steven Fletcher – here, justice was done and luckily did not affect the outcome.

Yes, Jody Craddock made slight contact with Larsson but the dramatics need to be punished. There should be an automatic three-game ban for persistent or intentional diving. If a player tries to fool the referee they should be banned, just like a red card.

This might sound a bit hot-headed but how many times does diving influence crucial decisions in the top flight these days? Too many. Diving is cheating, embarrassing and cowardly and a step has be taken to diminish it.

Next up is Mike Dean’s howler during the magnificent 3-0 encounter between Chelsea and Newcastle.

Dean failed to send off the clumsy David Luiz after the defender hauled down Demba Ba when the striker was seemingly clean through on goal. By the rules and by common sense this was a red card as Luiz was evidently the last man.

But Chelsea continued with 11 men and Newcastle were denied a lead. It overshadowed a pulsating match in which both sides rattled the upright numerous times and forced some sublime saves from both Tim Krul and Petr Cech.

Didier Drogba grabbed the first for the Blues and with talk of him leaving Stamford Bridge in January, it was a timely strike for the Ivorian.

André Villas-Boas is right to be concerned over the 33-year-old’s sudden drop in form, however his impressive 97 goals in 212 Chelsea appearances grants the Drog some time, especially if £50m blunder Fernando Torres is not being thrown into the January sales.

Elsewhere, Tottenham received an early Christmas present during their 3-0 win at White Hart Lane against Bolton when Gary Cahill was sent off.

Stuart Attwell, who had sent off Cahill at the Emirates earlier this season, adjudged the England defender’s challenge on Scott Parker to be worthy of a red card when he wasn’t the last man (he clearly would have been caught but Zat Knight).

The lack of respect for referees is a concern but the consistency in decisions from officials is equally a problem.

With such high revenues at stake and with crucial decisions affecting whether a manager gets sacked – a shake-up in officiating is necessary.

In the defence of referees, the player must hold a responsibility too to eradicate blatant diving and abuse towards the officials. Signalling to a referee to card an opponent needs to stop.

Some sort of technology will hopefully be involved in forthcoming seasons but for the time being, officials need to collaborate in between games and discuss decisions and issues so that players or managers know what they are up against.

The Premier League is too precious to tarnish with bad decisions.

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