Referees have one of the toughest jobs in football as their decisions play a significant role in determining the result of a game, and perhaps even of an entire season. Making the correct decision in a split second requires a lot of skill and focus and every referee will have to take a difficult call on the pitch every now and then.
No one expects any official to take all the right calls in a contact sport like football. There are ought to be many fifty-fifty decisions in a game that can go either way but it is important that common sense is displayed on the pitch when any call is taken. While some referees get most of the rulings spot-on, others have made some bizarre errors over the last couple of decades. Keeping all that in mind, here are five of the biggest blunders made by officials in the Premier League era:
#5 Cheick Tiote's disallowed goal against Manchester City, 2014
It was just after New Year's Day in 2014 when Manchester City travelled to Saint James' Park to take on Newcastle United. The Citizens were second on the league table, just a point below Arsenal, and with the season entering the final stages, every point on offer was at a premium.
The home team trailed to Edin Dzeko's eighth-minute strike as the Manchester giants took an early lead. Later that afternoon, a wrong call was made when Cheick Tiote unleashed a rasping shot past City goalkeeper Joe Hart, only for the effort to be disallowed by the referee.
Replays showed that Yoan Gouffran was one of three Newcastle players standing offside when the ball rattled the back of the net. After consulting the linesman, referee Mike Jones ruled out the goal. Gouffran was judged to have interfered with play but the call made by the officials was deemed wrong as the thunderous strike seemed like a genuine leveller.
The decision to disallow the goal left Newcastle manager Alan Pardew angered and confused. His team responded very well but could not catch up as Manuel Pellegrini's side finished the game as winners.
While the Citizens won the Premier League title that season, the Magpies avoided relegation after finishing 15th in the league table. A lot could have gone differently had that incorrect decision not been made, especially in favour of Arsenal.
#4 Didier Drogba's offside goal against Manchester United, 2010
Another awful decision in what was an important Premier League game was made at Old Trafford in 2010. Chelsea travelled to Manchester to face Sir Alex Ferguson's phenomenal team in what was expected to be a riveting clash. Manchester United were one point clear of Carlo Ancelotti's men but that changed after 90 minutes of intense football.
Joe Cole's clever flick gave Chelsea a well-merited lead after 20 minutes as the home side struggled to create chances. With Wayne Rooney out injured, facing a formidable Chelsea side was even tougher for the Red Devils. Didier Drogba then came off the bench to score a hugely controversial goal for the Blues as the London giants doubled their lead. Although Federico Macheda pulled a goal back for United two minutes later, it was not enough for the home side.
The Blues regained control of the title race as the victory at Old Trafford saw them leapfrog the Red Devils to the Premier League summit. Drogba's goal, which was clearly struck from an offside position, turned out to be incredibly decisive in the race for the league title. Chelsea won the Premier League that season by finishing just one point ahead of Manchester United. To date, the Ivorian believes that the goal is one of the most critical strikes of his career.
#3 Don Hutchison's disallowed goal against Liverpool, 2000
It was the Merseyside derby on 21st April 2000 and the match was coming to an end with the scores level at 0-0. However, not more than 30 seconds were left on the clock when something very strange happened.
Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld took a free kick in the dying moments of the game and the ball hit Everton midfielder Don Hutchison. The ball ricocheted off him and flew over Westerveld's head into the back of the net. Everton's celebrations did not even last for one second as referee Graham Poll disallowed the goal on the grounds that he had already blown his whistle to end the match.
Everton players could not believe what had happened and there is video evidence to prove they were well within their rights to be angry. In the end, it was all in vain as the match ended all square at 0-0. After retirement, Poll admitted that the decision he made during the game was a mistake.
#2 Pedro Mendes' disallowed goal against Manchester United, 2005
Over 15 years have passed and this remains one of the most strange decisions in the history of the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur visited Old Trafford looking for their first-ever away win against Manchester United in the Premier League era. The game was locked at 0-0 and looked set to end in a draw. However, in the last few minutes of the game, United keeper Roy Carroll raced outside of his penalty area and headed towards the halfway line to make a clearance.
The ball eventually fell to Spurs midfielder, Pedro Mendes, who took a shot at goal from near the halfway line. Carroll was quick enough to reach the goal and gather the ball but ended up spilling it over the line. Everyone could see that the ball had crossed the goal-line before Carroll scrambled it clear but the referee did not do anything about it and the game ended in a draw.
It was one of the most infamous disallowed goals in Premier League history as Mark Clattenburg failed to spot an easy decision. It denied Spurs a first-ever win at Old Trafford, a feat they had to wait another seven years to achieve.
#1 Andre Marriner's massive goof-up in Chelsea vs Arsenal clash, 2014
It was a classic London derby that had a lot to offer at Stamford Bridge in 2014. It was Arsene Wenger's 1000th game in charge of Arsenal and he was up against his nemesis, Jose Mourinho.
It was a shocking start for the Gunners as Chelsea found themselves 2-0 up before the ten-minute mark. However, a horrible blunder came before the third goal when, in a moment of sheer madness, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain intentionally deflected away Eden Hazard’s goal-bound shot with his hand. Referee Andre Marriner spotted that correctly and duly awarded the Blues a penalty but for some bizarre reason, the red card was shown to Kieran Gibbs and not Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Chelsea eventually ran out as 6-0 winners on a memorable afternoon at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal ensured that neither Gibbs nor Oxlade-Chamberlain would remain suspended following the decision. No one will know how the referee and his assistants made that blunder but it will go down as one of the worst refereeing calls in Premier League history.