Six decisions that rocked the Premier League this season

Alex Horlock takes a look at some of this Premier League season’s most controversial decisions

By Alex Horlock
mario balotelli
Mario Balotelli has found it hard to steer clear of controversy this season Photo: kelvingillmor.com

mario balotelli

Just what is it about this season? This week alone, we have seen two offside Chelsea goals stand at Wigan, Mario Balotelli’s horror tackle on Alex Song go unpunished, Ashley Young earn a penalty despite being offside, and Maynor Figueroa escape punishment when he almost caught the ball in the area.

Are the officials in the Barclays Premier League up to scratch? We take a look at some of the season’s other controversial decisions.

22 Jan 2012 – Man City 3-2 Tottenham: Balotelli’s stamp on Parker

Why always him? Probably because he does this sort of thing all the time. Balotelli had come off the bench in the second half for Roberto Mancini’s side and almost immediately got himself yellow carded by referee Howard Webb. Yet Webb missed his second, far more malicious, challenge on Spurs’ dogged midfielder Parker. The Spurs man lay on the floor after blocking Balotelli’s speculative shot, but as the 21-year-old regained his footing, he brought his boot down on Parker’s head, leaving him face down on the turf. Balotelli received a retrospective four-game ban, but avoided immediate punishment. Guess who popped up in the dying moments of the game to score the winning penalty for City…

22 Mar 2012 – Man Utd 1-0 Fulham: Murphy’s penalty claim

After an impressive performance at Old Trafford, substitute Danny Murphy surged into the United box. Hot on his heels, Michael Carrick appeared to clip Murphy, then oafishly bundled him to the ground. The 27-year-old referee Michael Oliver waved away the Fulham pleas for a penalty, and United clung on for a vital victory which saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s side move three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table. Those three points could yet prove vital in the title race, and Ferguson himself even admitted “they [Fulham] had a claim”.

10 Mar 2012 – Bolton 2-1 QPR: Hill’s blatant goal denied

If there’s one person who will endorse the introduction of goal line technology, it must be Clint Hill. The QPR defender latched on to the end of a corner to power a header towards Adam Bogdan’s goal. The goalkeeper managed to get a hand on the ball, but only when it was a good yard over the line. Hill wheeled away jubilantly, but neither the referee Martin Atkinson or his assistant Bob Pollock deemed Hill’s effort to have crossed the line. Although Bolton manager Owen Coyle instantly admitted “the ball clearly crossed the line,” he also noted that the officials had failed to flag Djibril Cisse offside when he tucked the ball into Bogdan’s net.

2 Jan 2012 – Wolves 1-2 Chelsea: Lampard on Hamill

The last thing teams fighting for their lives like Wolves need is a dodgy refereeing decision. Unfortunately for the then manager Mick McCarthy, that’s exactly what they got from Peter Walton – and ultimately, they paid the price. Lampard escaped with just a yellow, when he flew into Adam Hamill’s ankle bearing his studs. Perhaps his usually honest and clean style of play placated Walton. Mick McCarthy on the other hand was “livid” that Lampard was still on the pitch in the 89th minute to drift into the Wolves area and prod home Chelsea’s winner.

11 Dec 2011 – Stoke 2-1 Tottenham: Foy’s bad day

Saying that Tottenham were hard done by when they played Stoke at the Britannia would be a huge understatement. Referee Foy seemingly played more than a cameo role in ending Spurs’ winning streak in the Premier League. In fact, he emerged time and again to thwart Spurs’ efforts to beat the Potters. First, Crouch appeared to handle the ball in the build up to Matthew Etherington’s first goal. Not given. Then Jermain Defoe had a shot blocked – apparently by a hand – on the goal line. Not given. Throw in a legitimate Adebayor goal disallowed for offside, and a couple of other valid – but ignored – penalty claims, and that’s about it. Oh wait. Foy sent off Younes Kaboul late in the game for a pretty soft second booking. Redknapp said after the game that criticising referees “isn’t my game,” but he made an exception for Foy, describing Kaboul’s sending off as “farcical”.

26 Nov 2011 – Man Utd 1-1 Newcastle: Ferdinand’s well-timed tackle

Sir Alex Ferguson undoubtedly had this bad decision in mind when he said a team’s luck with officials “evens itself out over the season” recently. Demba Ba equalised at Old Trafford, but only after Hatem Ben Arfa was awarded a penalty when he went down under a Rio Ferdinand challenge. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, it was an outstanding tackle on the Frenchman. United will have felt even more incensed that the referee Mike Jones had to consult his assistant before awarding the spot-kick. Two points dropped for Ferguson in November, but United have had a few breaking their way to level the playing field a little…

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