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Debatable Decisions EPL – Week 16

913   //    15 Dec 2012, 18:38 IST

Week 16 of the Premier League season and the judges were working overtime to cope with the amount of big debatable referee decisions that took place last weekend, of which an incredible 16 were incorrect. Wowzers.

For future reference, there are a few decisions included this week that weren’t included in the Match of the Day highlights, but they were so big we couldn’t leave them out. As such, if you see a big decision that isn’t covered by Hansen, Shearer et al, feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do about including it in future weeks.


Swansea v Norwich

Freekick which led to 3rd Norwich goal

Simon M – Hmm, there definitely isn’t much in this and I think the referee has been conned on this one.

Simon F – There is very brief contact between the players, but I can’t see a foul at all.

David – I’m not convinced that the contact was enough to merit a foul. Seems like a bit of a flop to me.

Callum – Not much in that for me. Replay doesn’t seem to show much contact either. Not for me, no free-kick.


Michael – Another really soft one and I hate to say it but it’s becoming a real theme from Norwich. They seem to just stop playing where they want a free kick and fall over. Their set piece delivery is brilliant, so I can understand it, but it should be in no way condoned. It’s cheating. Simple as that.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Shechter goal disallowed for foul on goalkeeper

Simon M – I really hate seeing these incidents, goalkeepers are given way too much protection with challenges like this. There’s absolutely nothing in it and the Swansea player has every right to go for the ball. Poor refereeing, as far as I’m concerned.

Simon F – I don’t think anything the Swansea player does impedes the goalkeeper from challenging for the ball, therefore no foul.

David – I think the keeper has, to quote the FIFA rules, “gained possession of the ball with his hands” before it gets headed out of his grip. That’s a foul.

Callum – Fair challenge to me, got to the ball as well. Feel Swansea should have been given the goal there.

Michael – I think the goalkeeper needs to be much stronger there. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. A goalkeeper doesn’t just decide when the ball should be his. He has to fight for it same as everyone else and he didn’t fight hard enough.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Ashley Williams foul on Holt (yellow given)

Simon M – Not sure what Webb is doing with this one. The covering defender isn’t going to get there and the tackle is definitely a last man foul. I would have shown a red.

Simon F – I think the covering defender would have got across in time to attempt a block, and therefore it isn’t a clear goalscoring opportunity.

David – It seems like a clear goalscoring opportunity to me. Sure the ball is moving a little wide, but he’s behind the defence and would have got a shot at the goal. A red for me.

Callum – It is a foul, and a yellow card was the correct decision, as the other defender may well have got across there to defend Holt’s effort.

Michael – If it’s a foul – which it is – then it’s a red card. Absolutely no justification at all for a yellow card. Desperately poor decision.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Sunderland v Chelsea 

Chelsea penalty shout

Simon M – This is a tough one, there doesn’t seem to be all that much in it in terms of sending him to ground, but in terms of getting to the ball before the keeper, I think the little pull does impede him. I’m going to go for penalty here.

Simon F – Hazard is clearly pulled and impeded and had he gone down would almost certainly have been given a penalty. The fact that he tried to stay on his feet should not stop that award.

David – The defender does grab his arm and pull him back, infringing on his movement at a critical moment. That might have prevented him from getting to the ball ahead of the keeper, so I’d call it a penalty.

Callum – Was at The Stadium Of Light giving Halsey all kinds of stick for this one. Looked a penalty from where I was at the time, and still stand by that.

Michael – I don’t think Larsson does enough to warrant a penalty there. Little pull back but not enough to impede him.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Chelsea penalty

Simon M – Poor show from Larsson and when I saw this happen I was also having a flick through Twitter and very few Sunderland fans had much sympathy for Larsson, which says it all.

Simon F – Brainless defending from Larsson and a nailed on penalty.

David – I actually think Ramirez is already falling when the contact is made with his legs. However, he might have had the chance to backheel the ball away from the line, spring up and pass it off, so I’d still call it a foul. Penalty.

Callum – Tackle from behind, hasn’t won the ball, silly tackle to make. Penalty the correct decision for me.

Michael – The most clear – and stupid – penalty you are likely to see. Nowt in the rules about letting people off who are thick as two short planks.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Arsenal v West Brom 

Arsenal Penalty #1

Simon M – Shocking. The worst part was the reaction from Arsenal fans to this, they seemed to find it funny and rejoice in the fact that they had conned the ref. Poor from the player and the fans.

David – I think he not only misses the ball, he misses the man too. A dive and not a penalty.

Callum – At first that looks like a penalty, but on closer inspection, Carzola has taken a dive. No penalty.

Michael – Embarrassing from Cazorla. You won’t see a more embarrassing dive all season, actually. He should be much better than that.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

West Brom penalty shout (foul given against Olsson)

Simon M – Good spot by the officials, I think plenty of refs would have given this as a penalty, but the pull from Olsson being given as an Arsenal free kick was the correct decision.

Simon F – I don’t think Olsson fouls Mertesacker and the Arsenal defender clearly handles the ball, so West Brom should have had a penalty.

David – Olsson is holding the front of the defender’s shirt, but the handball is obvious. The question is whether the arm is in an “unnatural” position. When you jump for a header, the arms tend to go up for balance, and I think Olsson’s tug actually guides the defender’s arm to the point where it gets hit. With the benefit of extensive review, I wouldn’t give it as a penalty.

Callum – Olsson is pulling back on Mertesacker there, which leads to his arms moving up. Correct decision for me.

Michael – Olsson has his arms draped over the defender’s shoulders so I think the referee got this one right as it only struck the arm due to his jump being impeded.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Foul by Oxlade-Chamberlain in build up to Arsenal penalty #2 and Arsenal penalty #2

Simon M – No way, the West Brom lad just seems to drop to the ground for no apparent reason. Definite penalty, though.

Simon F – I think it was just about a foul from Oxlade-Chamberlain in the build up, and West Brom should have had a free kick. There is no doubt that, having not given the foul, the referee was right to award the penalty, but I don’t think he should have had the opportunity to.

David – It’s certainly a late tackle for the penalty, but I think the Arsenal man both pushes and trips the West Brom man in the build-up. A free the other way.

Callum – Feel Oxlade-Chamberlain has fouled his man there. But once he gets into the box he is also fouled, and a penalty is the correct decision.

Michael – Think the referee got this one correct from start to finish. The ball is won firmly but fairly initially and then the foul in the penalty box is clear. Two good calls.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Wigan v QPR 

Disputed corner for Wigan goal

Simon M – It’s a really difficult one to call, but it looks to me like it’s hit the Wigan player last.

Simon F – It’s very difficult to tell from the one angle we have, but having looked at it frame by frame, I think the last touch does come off the Wigan player and it should have been a goal kick.

David – I think it does touch the Wigan guy last. A goal kick.

Callum – Looks like it came off a Wigan player. Incorrect decision.

Michael – It really is very hard to tell. So hard, in fact, that I can’t really build a case either for or against it. Therefore, I’m happy to give the referee the benefit of the doubt.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Southampton v Reading 

Reading penalty shout #1

Simon M – Just enough in this to warrant a penalty in my books, but I think the referee was put off by Tabb going to ground a second or so after the initial contact.

Simon F – What strikes me here is that there’s no claim from Tabb, but I do think his ankle was clipped and it sent him over, therefore should have been a penalty.

David – I think there is a mistimed challenge there and a trip. Enough for a penalty.

Callum – Definite contact, a penalty should have been awarded.

Michael – One of those where contact does not equate to a foul. The defender touches him but does not bring him down or impede him. No penalty. As a side note – a quite scandalous number of players behaving like tarts and throwing themselves to their knees this week. Man up, lads. For the love of all that we hold dear, man the hell up!

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Southampton goal disallowed for push

Simon M – There’s pushing and shoving going on all over the place in that area, so to single one out seems harsh. I would have allowed the goal.

Simon F – If any foul was given it should have been for the goalkeeper pushing the Reading attacker into the Reading defender, certainly the goal should not have been disallowed.

David – I suppose he does give him a bit of shove alright, but doesn’t the keeper do the same thing? If you’re going to give a foul for it once…I’d have let the goal stand.

Callum – Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I wouldn’t know what to give. I would have allowed the goal to stand.

Michael – Nothing wrong with that at all. Good delivery and the better man won a fair contest. Very poor decision.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Reading penalty shout #2

Simon M – His shirt’s being pulled so I think I would have awarded a penalty.

Simon F – A clear shirt pull and another case of Reading having been done out of a penalty.

David – His shirt does receive a quick tug. A foul.

Callum – Enough of a tug on the shirt there for something to have been given. Reading unlucky not to get a second penalty.

Michael – I don’t see it. There have been softer penalties given this season – astonishingly, but nothing in that one at all.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Villa v Stoke 

Ciaran Clark tackle (foul given against Stoke)

Simon M – Clarke is fouled before his tackle so the free kick against Stoke was the correct decision. I also think that a yellow was more than enough for his tackle, which was hard and ever so slightly late, but not dangerous.

Simon F – Whilst Clark was fouled initially, his dive into the following challenge cannot be excused. It was worthy of at least a yellow card.

David – I’ll admit to being somewhat baffled by this decision. It’s a bit of a dangerous lunge from Clark, though I wouldn’t call it red worthy. I certainly wouldn’t call it an Aston Villa free.

Callum – It was a foul on Clark before he dived into the Stoke player. Correct decision, but Clark should have booked for his tackle too.

Michael – I think Clark probably is fouled, but he was guilty of lunging in a little too much after that too. We saw the one with Tiote at Sunderland earlier this season where play had stopped for a foul on him yet he lunged at another player after the whistle and was rightly punished and the same should have happened here. Whether that punishment should have been a yellow or a red is a judgement call, though. I think a yellow would have been sufficient.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Shotton bookings (first given for walking away with ball/back chat)

Simon M – Reminds me of the Pienaar red against QPR, a second yellow for a player tripping over their own feet. Really poor decision.

Simon F – The first booking is fair enough, he walks away with the ball and talks back to the referee. The second, however, was harsh. A foul, as there was contact, but I don’t think it was worthy of a booking.

David – The first yellow, well I don’t know what he said to the Ref, so I’ll just assume there was sufficient dissention. The second, while maybe a foul, is accidental contact if anything and wasn’t worthy of a yellow.

Callum – Unlucky to be given the second booking, however the first was fair.

Michael – If you behave like a petulant little berk you always run the risk of getting a booking, so the first one seemed fair enough. The second one was ridiculous though. I don’t see what Shotton has done wrong there that a half-competent barber can’t fix.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Man City v Man Utd 

Young goal disallowed for offside

Simon M – Fairly clear that he’s onside, but it is close so a little sympathy for the officials.

Simon F – A simple one that replays clearly and quickly prove was incorrect.

David – With the Sky Sports line, this is a pretty clear cut decision. He’s onside when the ball is played and the goal should have stood.

Callum – Looks onside to me. Goal should have stood.

Michael – It is absolutely marginal but I think he was just about onside. A wrong call, but not one I think an official should be criticized for.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Free kick leading to Man Utd winner

Simon M – I had my nose pressed up against the computer screen trying to see if there was anything in this. It looks like Tevez flicks a foot out at Rafael in a bid to bring him down, but misses. Soft free kick.

Simon F – There is just contact, and enough to impede, so a free kick was the right call.

David – My very first reaction when I saw this was “dive”. But the other angles show a slight clip on Rafael, and that’s more than enough to send you down when you’re moving at that velocity. A foul.

Callum – Rafael has gone down extremely easy there. Don’t think there’s enough contact there for him to tumble over like so. Not a foul for me.

Michael – One from the Norwich City school of attacking, I’m afraid. Wanted a free kick there and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like not actually being fouled get in the way.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Tevez kick On Jones (No Card Shown)

Simon M – Can’t believe more hasn’t been made of this and can’t believe that none of the officials called it. He takes a clear swipe at Jones’ legs. Petulant and pathetic, definitely worthy of a red.

Simon F – A stupid moment from Tevez. Jones isn’t too clever, coming in with his arm raised as he does, but the kick out is inexcusable and Tevez should have been sent off.

David – This is a stupid little interaction. Jones shoves him out of the way so he can’t get to the ball, giving him a bit of an elbow to the face (not intentional with the elbow I would think, but the push was.) And Tevez, I’m guessing frustrated with the RVP goal and his limited part in the game, lashed at with a kick that could not have been meant for the ball but was aimed squarely at Jones. They both have a bit of fault here, but Tevez is way worse. I’d have sent him off. Jones was already on a yellow, so I’d have given him a second too.

Callum – Both could have been given red cards. However at best I would have given a yellow to Jones and a yellow to Tevez.

Michael – Pretty conclusive, sadly. Petulant kick out and deserved to see red for it. Amazed more hasn’t been made of it in the press, actually.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Everton v Spurs 

Jelavic onside or offside for goal

Simon M – Wonderful goal and definitely onside.

Simon F – One that would have been easy for the linesman to call offside, given the speed of the action, so well done to him for getting it right as Jelavic was definitely onside.

David – Replay seems pretty conclusive that he was onside.

Callum – Onside.

Michael – Clearly onside. A beautifully crafted goal, I must say.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

West Ham v Liverpool 

West Ham penalty

Simon M – Arm in unnatural position is such an irritating policy, especially when no consideration seems to be given to balance when players are lunging in to make a block. I think this was ball to hand and I think his hand was in a natural position.

Simon F – A very tough one that exists firmly in the grey area of the handball rule. Allen’s arm was away from his body, but the ball was smashed at him from very close range

David – His arm is up for balance and he’s trying to move it out of the way, so for that I wouldn’t have given this.

Callum – Penalty. Hand in the way there, gaining an advantage.

Michael – I hate seeing decisions like this given. It is definitely ball to hand and shouldn’t have been punished.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Liverpool penalty shout

Simon M – Bit theatrical from Shelvey and I think the defender gets a slight touch on the ball, good decision.

David – I think that’s an unfair trip. No contact with the ball, just late. A penalty.

Callum – Looks like he just got the ball for me. Marginal, but the correct decision.

Michael – I’ll give the defender the benefit of the doubt there. I am not absolutely 100% sure he got the touch on the ball, but I am even less sure that he didn’t. No penalty.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Taylor tackle on Sterling

Simon M – Blimey, that’s crazy and another decision that I’m shocked more hasn’t been made of. It’s late, high and dangerous. Red card.

Simon F – A terrible assault from Taylor which should have seen him sent off without question.

David – Awfully stupid thing to do. He’s going for the ball, but ends up sticking his studs into Sterling stomach. Dangerous play and red card worthy.

Callum – Red card.

Michael – It was high but not really malicious or dangerous. A foul and possible booking, but nothing anything more severe than that.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision

Newcastle – Wigan 

Newcastle Penalty

Simon M – I’m usually really lenient on decisions involving strikers running into defenders and going down, it’s one of my pet peaves. However, I do think the Wigan players moves towards Cisse and it isn’t a simple case of being in the way of the attacker. Penalty was correct and unfortunately a red had to be shown.

Simon F – A simple case of two players going shoulder to shoulder and one being stronger than the other. I don’t think this was a foul.

David – Looks like he runs into him from behind and adds a bit of a shove for good measure. A penalty, and as a result of the situation a red card.

Callum – Penalty. Red card also correct.

Michael – For me this was probably the worst decision of the season so far. Important game for both sides, very early, and the singularly defining factor in the whole game. Cissé has essentially been rewarded for being weaker than a fat lass in McDonalds. Shoulder to shoulder and the stronger man won. Where is the problem? The punishment of a red card and penalty for that was quite frankly a disgrace.

Overall Verdict – Correct Decision

Caldwell Possible Second Yellow

Simon M – He knows what he’s doing and is very lucky to escape without a second booking there. I think the earlier red and the time in the game played a part in the referee’s decision.

Simon F – Welcome to the Gary Caldwell School of Defending. Back for another masterclass, this one in how to avoid what should be an obvious booking. How the referee hasn’t given him the deserved second yellow for this, I’m not quite sure.

David – It’s a pretty cynical and intentional foul as he holds on to the mans shirt after he goes to ground just so he can’t play the ball. That’s a bookable offence, of a higher seriousness than just petty fouls.

Callum – That’s a second yellow.

Michael – It was high but not really malicious or dangerous. A foul and possible booking, but nothing anything more severe than that.

Overall Verdict – Incorrect Decision


Liverpool – Swansea

Jose Enrique Disallowed Goal

We made an error when we counted the Jose Enrique disallowed goal as a correct decision and the following screenshot seems to prove that he was marginally onside.

We have now rectified that error in both the REAL Table and Decisions Table. Apologies for the error.

However, I’d like to also mention how laughable some of the comments about it were;

“Bit of an anti Liverpool panel me thinks”

With regard to a panel that includes a Liverpool fan who judged the offside call as correct and;

“you’ve got to at least comment. It looks very bad if you don’t, please just post something for the sake of the site.”

Because we didn’t reply and rectify immediately.


David had this to say about the cries of conspiracy and lack of immediate reply, I agree with every word.

“People have to remember two things with this site. One, we operate from MOTD replays from certain angles, and it looked offside from the angle I was shown. And two, this is an amateur-run site. This is nobody’s job and the lack of instant replies to a complaint should not result in cries of “conspiracy”. The claims of an anti-Liverpool bias against DD are, looking at the actual decisions we have awarded for and against that club this season, pretty laughable. Was Enrique offside? No. Do we hate Liverpool? No.”

You can follow our judges on Twitter; Simon M – @Deb_Decisions, David @NFBblog, Callum @CallumMaclean81, Michael @Capt_Fishpaste and Simon F – @SFurnivall.

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