by Andrew Crawshaw
So the Season starts with a Sunday afternoon kickoff against Liverpool. Our Match Officials are :-
Referee – Michael Oliver – FIFA Accredited – age 31 – Home County Northumberland
Assistants – S Burt – FIFA accredited, Home County Northamptonshire and E Smart – Home County West Midlands
Fourth Official – C Pawson – FIFA Accredited referee Home County South Yorkshire
An experienced group of officials, Eddie Smart the only one who doesn’t hold FIFA accreditation so there really shouldn’t be any excuses for any major cock-ups.
As I said in my article highlighting the changes in the PGMO for this year, it is something of a lottery at the moment trying to predict what might happen as it really all depends on how strictly the new guidelines regarding the behaviour of players and coaching staff are going to be applied.
If applied in accordance with the letter of the laws and until the players learn how to behave it is difficult to imagine any team ending the game with all 11 players on the pitch. Even Özil and Giroud frequently display displeasure when they are not awarded free kicks for the numerous fouls they receive during a game and more forceful teams (Chelsea, Man United and Spurs are typical) who regularly surround referees and assistants will certainly have players who are likely to get early baths.
This new emphasis on dissent will be something to watch out for in the early games. It will certainly be something for Usama and Walter to take into account in their referee reviews and interesting to see how many marks they lose for a less than strict interpretation.
In terms of handling routine decisions during the game, it is highly probable that little will have changed since last year so I will continue to predict these as before.
last Season 2015/16 we had Mr Oliver on two occasions – both were draws
67% overall, bias against the two teams 90/10 and three wrong Important Decisions (second Yellow or Red cards, Penalties or Goal decisions) all against Arsenal. In Min 8 Aaron Ramsey had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside (he wasn’t), In Min 72 we should have had a penalty for a Lucas foul on Giroud and in Min 85 Mignolet was given a yellow card for timewasting. This should have been his second, his first should have been given in Min58 when he deliberately kicked the ball away. Two points robbed by the PGMO
56% overall, bias against the two teams 14/86 and two wrong Important Decisions. Lamela should have received two yellow cards for pushing in Min 65 and Dier should have been dismissed for a second yellow in Min 79. Another two points robbed by the PGMO.
In 2014-15 we had Mr Oliver as referee on three occasions and (again) all were draws.
66% overall, bias against both teams 85/15 and two wrong Important Decisions – Min 30 not given penalty for foul on Wilshere by Rose and Min 72 Mason should have had a straight red card for a foul on Özil. Two points robbed by the PGMO.
67% overall and bias against the two teams 0/100 – yes every wrong decision was in favour of Liverpool. There were two wrong Important Decisions in Min 61 Stirling should have had a second yellow card for a deliberate handball (his first should have been for a dive in Min46 which Mr Oliver bought hook, line and sinker and wrongly booked Debuchy), the second was an error when Borini was given a second yellow card for a dreadful challenge on Cazorla in Min 91 – it should have been a straight red card. We should have played for 30 minutes against 10 men and I’m sure we would have won the game.
Arsenal v Chelsea (0 – 0) 26 April – no full referee review.
- In his last four games which have been reviewed Mr Oliver has never achieved the minimum acceptable score of 70%. How in God’s name has he been given FIFA acceditation?
- Mr Oliver displays a dreadful bias in his numerous wrong decisions – his most even handed being 85/15 against Arsenal, his worst being 100% against Arsenal. Something very fishy there.
- Our last five league games with Mr Oliver in charge have all been draws with at least four having been decided by wrong refereeing decisions. If you fancy a bet (and I wouldn’t recommend it) then a draw on Sunday would seem to be distinctly possible.
- Mr Oliver is not good with second yellow cards or recognising a really bad challenge that warrants a straight red.
- I would also be surprised if we are awarded a penalty.
- Look out also for the standard refereeing tricks of awarding a ‘phantom foul’ allowing Liverpool to put a free kick into our box, or to let Liverpool regroup when under pressure. I would also expect Liverpool players to be given more leeway in what they can get away with in challenges.
- I just hope that Mr Oliver properly applies the laws of the game in an evenhanded manner for both teams and that at the end we can reflect on a good game decided by the players rather than the referee.
- The predictions for this coming season: and rather cheery ones they are too.
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