Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher breaks down the flashpoints from the weekend in the latest round of Ref Watch.
Gallagher also discussed the departure of Video Assistant Referee Lee Mason from the PGMOL last week, having left by consensus following his big mistake in Arsenal’s draw with Brentford.
He said: “I’m not really surprised. He had a tough run last week and he’s had a few incidents in the past. Maybe he spoke to the leadership team and felt it wasn’t working for him, and they felt the same.”
Manchester United 3-0 Leicester
INCIDENT: Marcel Sabitzer caught Wout Faes below the knee with his spikes up. He sent the Leicester defender rolling to the floor and despite the clumsy challenge, the Man Utd midfielder was not penalised.
NERMOT SAYS: “He was extremely lucky. I think it’s a red card. If you put your nails in someone’s knee that high, it’s dangerous.
“The only thing it can’t be is just a foul. The referee has to give a penalty on the field. Maybe the VAR thinks Sabitzer went a short distance, so he doesn’t think the impact is there.
“It all depends on the referee’s decision – if he gives a red card and it goes to VAR, it will never be overturned.
“One of the problems for VAR is that the referee gave a foul against (Wout) Weghorst, so by giving a foul against him, he signaled to VAR that he saw it and dealt with it.”
Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
INCIDENT: Tottenham believed they should have had a penalty in the first half. Richarlison’s attempted pass to Harry Kane was stopped by Thilo Kerrer’s hand. However, nothing was given by the referee and VAR did not intervene.
NERMOT SAYS: “I think it’s handball and the referee has to give it because Kerer has his hand out. If he doesn’t, then he’ll go to Harry Kane.
“The referee sees it well and waves it away. When he talks to VAR, he might have said ‘I feel he’s falling back and off balance and he’s going to the ground and blocking the ball.’
“The referee has eliminated VAR to some extent there. The only way to get a penalty is for VAR to award it.
“VAR isn’t there to decide right or wrong, it’s there if it’s an absolute screamer… Michael Oliver doesn’t have the option to go on the screen. He can’t just think ‘I should see it again.’ ”, it is not his choice.
“If the VAR said to him ‘you might want to go and have a look, we think it’s a mistake’, he can still go to the screen and stand by his decision. But it has to be activated from the other end.”
Newcastle 0-2 Liverpool
INCIDENT: Nick Pope is sent off for a tackle outside his area. He came out to meet a long pass with Mohamed Salah clearing it, but his effort to clear saw the ball hit his hand.
Sean Longstaff was behind him, questioning whether Pope was the last man standing.
NERMOT SAYS: “Red card. Denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Had he not handled the ball, Salah would have been in control of the ball, heading towards goal.
“It’s not that he (Salah) has to score a goal, it’s whether he has a chance to get a clear shot on goal.
“In any appeal, they will have to prove that the referee made a clear and obvious error. I would suggest that the chances are very slim. The protective defender, if he comes back, is not that unlikely a goalkeeper.”
What made this incident different to Thiago Silva’s yellow card against Crystal Palace in October for a similar action?
“I still think it’s a yellow card because the main thing is the player in possession? Salah was and Ayew should have taken possession and moved to the left so it wasn’t directly at goal. “
Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal
ICOMPATIBLE: Arsenal grabbed their third goal as Jorginho’s shot was deflected into the back of the net by Emiliano Martinez’s header. There were some questions about whether the Aston Villa keeper had his line of sight blocked.
NERMOT SAYS: “Line of sight is the hardest call because there’s no right or wrong. The ball has traveled a long way, he’s got plenty of time to try and see it. It looks like he took a good dive and he’s got every opportunity to try and save it.
“That’s the reasoning. It’s so hard because it’s almost like he has to touch one of those players or get too close to them or they have to fake it, like we saw with a player the other week.”
Dermot Gallagher on Mikel Arteta mocking referee…
“If the fourth official felt it was unfair, he would have brought it to the referee’s attention and it’s probably a yellow card. It’s not good publicity, we don’t want to see that. [from Arteta].”
Hibernian 2-0 Kilmarnock
INCIDENT: Kilmarnock’s Kyle Vassel was sent off after a high boot while playing Hibernian. The VAR advised the referee to upgrade the original yellow card decision.
NERMOT SAYS: “I think that’s definitely right because he could see it coming. That’s the difference – he knows he’s coming to put his head on that ball and he chooses to put his head up there. He knows the risk he’s taking and the consequences.
“I didn’t expect anything but a red card there. He knows he’s going to get him.”