5 instances in the PL last season where referees robbed the teams of some valuable points
The 2018-19 season of the Premier League witnessed some horrendous blunders from the referees, as sub-standard officiating continued to tarnish the image of English football.
Several incorrect calls made by the referees and the linesmen last season has strengthened claims that VAR is the need of the hour.
Surprisingly, these refereeing blunders not only took place in the games involving bottom-table teams but the officiating in the fixtures involving title-contending sides also raised a lot of eyebrows.
The VAR is going to be used in the Premier League from the upcoming season. While that might bring some solace to the fans, it has been seen in the recent past that technology can never be deemed as a complete foolproof.
It is true that the introduction of the VAR in the Premier League would go a long way towards eliminating the blatant errors but in all honesty, the standard of officiating needs to improve significantly in order to bring justice to the reputation of the Premier League being the most competitive league in Europe.
As a matter of fact, some of the incorrect calls made by the referees could have had far-reaching implications as far as the two-way title race between Manchester City and Liverpool was concerned.
With all due respect to whatever Liverpool achieved in the Premier League this past season, it is worth mentioning over here that the Reds got a fair share of some of the 50-50 decisions in their favour, while a few others should never have gone in their favour.
Well, that is all history now and the fans can look forward to VAR playing a big role in the Premier League next season.
It remains to be seen as to what kind of impact the introduction of technology has in the top-flight next term but it is certainly worth looking back at some of the top blunders made by the referees in the 2018-19 campaign.
1. Ashley Young’s Handball vs Newcastle United
Man United were under pressure to turn their lacklustre season on its head, with manager Jose Mourinho very much under scrutiny following the Red Devils’ unimpressive start to the campaign.
However, it wasn’t the best possible start to the game for the home side, as goals from Robert Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto put Newcastle 2-0 ahead just 10 minutes into the fixture.
Man United though, managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the second half as goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial brought them back on level terms before Alexis Sanchez’s strike in the final seconds of regulation time completed a remarkable 3-2 comeback victory for the Red Devils.
Well, that result could have been so much different had it not been for a massive blunder from referee Anthony Taylor. Ashley Young’s attempted clearance off Jonjo Shelvey’s inch-perfect cross struck him on the arm and went out of play.
Much to the astonishment of the fans, the referee not only denied Newcastle an obvious penalty but he also opted not to point to the corner flag. Forget about a red or a yellow card for the offence.
2. Willy Boly’s hand of god against Man City
Wolves finished the season in the Europa League qualification spot with an envious record against the big-six sides in the Premier League. However, they got extremely lucky in the 1-1 draw against Man City at Molineux in the earlier stages of the campaign.
Willy Boly threw his body on the line to make some sort of a connection from a cross and scored with what appeared to be a wonderful diving header, thus giving Wolves the lead in the 57th minute.
However, replays showed clearly that the ball actually came off his arm and beat Ederson in goal.
Aymeric Laporte equalised late on to rescue a point for City, however, one cannot help but feel that the Citizens were robbed of two crucial points, thanks to some incorrect officiating.
Wolves definitely deserved to get at least a point to show for their lion-hearted effort but scoring with the hand is never acceptable in football.
3. Dejan Lovren’s challenge on Sergio Aguero
Excitements levels were crossing all limits when Liverpool played host to defending champions Man City on 7th October given that both the teams were unbeaten at that point of the season.
The game, which did turn out to be a fiercely contested one, ultimately poured cold water on the expectations and ended as a 0-0 stalemate but there was no shortage of drama over the course of the ninety minutes.
The memories of Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the dying stages of the game is likely to be fresh in the memories of the fans but as a matter of fact, City should have had two penalties in that game.
Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot for Virgil van Dijk’s foul on Leroy Sane in the second half but Lovren’s challenge on Aguero in the first half was deemed unworthy of a penalty for some unknown reason.
Aguero did go down softly but he was well within his rights to go down given that Lovren didn’t get a part of the ball and definitely got some part of the striker in his attempted tackle.
4. Man City vs Burnley
There was not one but as many as three blunders in Man City’s 5-0 victory over Burnley on 20th October and referee Jonathan Moss was the culprit. Vincent Kompany’s challenge on Aaron Lennon only earned him a booking but in all honesty, that should have been a straight red card.
Cynical or not, a high boot challenge with the studs pointing upwards is nothing short of a sending off and the referee got that one horribly wrong, much to the disappointment of Sean Dyche on the sidelines.
That, however, was not the only incorrect call that went in City’s favour in that particular game. Bernardo Silva’s goal to make it 2-0 should not have stood as David Silva was very much in an offside position when he supplied the assist with a picture-perfect cross.
Neither the linesman on the far side nor Jonathan Moss seemed to spot that and that was the beginning of an absolute rampage from City.
Leroy Sane’s challenge on Matthew Lowton towards the end of the game, though not as dangerous as the one Kompany made on Lennon, was also worthy of a red card only for Moss to spare the German with a booking.
The winger was clearly late on the challenge and replays showed that he never really made an attempt to go for the ball.
5. Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal vs Arsenal
Liverpool and Arsenal played out an enthralling 1-1 draw at the Emirates on 3rd December but the outcome of the game could have been so much different had referee Andre Marriner not ruled out Sadio Mane’s goal for an offside.
Trent Alexander Arnold’s cross into the box found Roberto Firmino, whose shot came back off the post before Mane found the net with a simple tap-in.
That, however, was deemed as an offside against the Senegalese international, although replays showed clearly that he was in a clean position when he put the ball into the net.
It is true that he did initially take a step towards the ball before Firmino had his shot but that doesn’t really count as offside.
The rulebook clearly states that an offside call can only be made when a player himself plays the ball, attempts to play the ball or obstructs the opposition while standing in an offside position. Mane’s slight movement had nothing to do with any of those clauses.
James Milner’s goal was cancelled out by Lacazette’s strike but Liverpool would probably have claimed three points had Mane’s goal stood.
5 Players who have represented both Arsenal and Tottenham in the Premier League era
5 Players to have played for both Arsenal and Spurs
When it comes to rivalries between football clubs, the North London derby contested between Arsenal and Tottenham comes right up there with the most fiercely contested derbies, not only in the Premier League but in the entire world of football.
Be it in any competition, we have seen over the years that the coming together of these two clubs always becomes a monumentous occasion at the capital of the nation, with no love lost between the fans on the red and white halves of North London.
And considering the bitter rivalry between the two North London clubs, not too many players have dared to represent both Arsenal and Spurs in their footballing career due to the fear of getting a lot of stick from the fans.
Yet, we have seen a few instances of players switching boats and taking that unfamiliar step of joining Spurs from Arsenal or vice-versa.
Now, it is a no-brainer that transfers between the two North London rivals do not go through all that easily, and even when such deals are completed, the new arrivals hardly receive a warm round of applause from the fans.
Even for top professional footballers, returning to face their old clubs is often an emotional occasion and we have seen that things get a bit unpleasant when the clubs in question are Arsenal and Spurs.
Without further ado, let us take a look at some of the players who have played for both Arsenal and Spurs since the turn of the century.
Only players with senior competitive appearances for both the clubs are considered for discussion, meaning Harry Kane’s brief spell in the Arsenal academy as a kid doesn’t come within the bracket.
Here are 5 players who have represented both the North London giants since 2000:
1. Sol Campbell
A two-time Premier League winner, a Champions League finalist and a widely revered former England international, Sol Campbell has to be at the top of this list.
In fact, it might surprise a few of the fans of the current generation but Campbell was very much an established player on the white half on North London before making the infamous decision of joining Arsenal in 2001.
Born in East London to parents of Jamaican descent, Campbell started his career in the youth ranks at Spurs before making his senior competitive debut for the Lilywhites back in 1992.
After gradually rising to prominence, Campbell became a hero amongst the fans when he captained Spurs to victory in the 1999 League Cup final against Leicester City.
However, Campbell’s stocks amongst the Spurs’ fans plummeted dramatically when he refused to sign a new contract despite the club ready to make him the highest paid player in their history.
His eventual Bosman transfer to rivals Arsenal in the summer of 2001 put a dagger in the hearts of one and all on the white half of North London.
Campbell, though, went on to enjoy a trophy-laden spell at Highbury and lifted the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season at Arsenal, thus immediately establishing himself as a popular figure amongst the new fans.
The towering centre-back was a key component of Arsene Wenger’s famous ‘Invincibles’ in the 2003-04 season and was also a driving force in the Gunners’ run to the 2006 UEFA Champions League final.
He left to join Portsmouth and had a brief stint at Notts County in League Two before returning to Arsenal in 2010, although he was very much in the twilight of his career by then. Campbell is currently the manager of League Two side Macclesfield Town.
2. Emmanuel Adebayor
A 2003-04 Champions League runner-up with Monaco, Emmanuel Adebayor was a relatively unknown commodity in England when Arsene Wenger brought him in from Ligue 1 back in 2006.
He primarily came in as an understudy to Thierry Henry but the powerful Togolese centre-forward took the Premier League by storm following the Frenchman’s eventual departure to Barcelona.
Adebayor managed only 4 and 12 goals respectively in his first two seasons at Arsenal but he subsequently bettered those numbers in the 2007-08 campaign, racking up a staggering 30 goals in 48 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions.
After scoring 62 goals in 142 appearances over the course of four seasons at Arsenal, Adebayor had his head turned by a big-money offer from Man City and he completed a switch away from North London in 2009.
However, he never managed to replicate the same kind of form at his new club, and following a brief and fruitful loan stint at Real Madrid in the 2010-11 season, the Togo international took that dreaded step of joining Spurs on loan in the summer of 2011.
A return to North London worked wonders for him, as Adebayor rediscovered his mojo with 18 goals for Spurs in all competitions in the 2011-12 season, thus propelling the club to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League.
Adebayor’s stay was made permanent and although his time at White Hart Lane was blighted by injuries, a strike rate of 42 goals in 113 appearances looks impressive on paper, nevertheless.
Now 35, Adebayor is still active in professional football and currently plies his trade with Istanbul Basaksehir in the Turkish top flight.
3. William Gallas
A two-time Premier League winner and a 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist with France, Gallas might not have produced his best football for either Arsenal or Spurs but he is still one of the most high-profile inclusions in the list.
The Frenchman made his move to England with Chelsea from Ligue 1 outfit Marseille back in the summer of 2001 and went on to win plenty of silverware over the course of his five illustrious seasons in West London, winning back-to-back Premier League titles with the Blues in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Gallas moved to Arsenal in 2006 on a part-exchange deal which saw Ashley Cole head the other way. The Frenchman went on to establish himself as a regular face at the back for Wenger and made 142 appearances in all competitions over the course of four seasons, although he never really hit top form and failed to inspire his team to a major trophy.
The Frenchman’s relationship with Arsenal turned sour towards the end, as he refused to sign a new contract. And in a twist of fate, Gallas joined Spurs on a free transfer in 2010 but the fans on the white half of North London hardly got to see the best of him given that his best years were already behind him by that time.
Gallas made only 78 appearances for Spurs over three seasons and struggled a lot with injuries before ending his career at Perth Glory in the A-League.
4. Rohan Ricketts
Let’s shift our focus to some of the lesser known players to have featured for both the North London giants. A product of the Arsenal academy, Ricketts won the FA Youth Cup with the Gunners in 2000 and 2001 before making a solitary first-team appearance for his boyhood club in a League Cup tie against Man United.
Ricketts was a relatively unknown commodity amongst the fans when he switched boats to join Spurs in 2002 but his abrupt emergence and rapid development evoked plenty of interest.
The attacking midfielder established himself as a regular for the Lilywhites in the 2003-04 season and his impressive performances even led to him being considered for a call-up to the England senior team, although the sacking of then Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle saw his first-team opportunities reduce thereafter.
Ricketts scored for Spurs in the Premier League and also in the League Cup before departing for Wolves in 2005.
He subsequently had a spell with Barnsley before going on to become a widely travelled footballer, featuring for various clubs in Hungary, Canada, Moldova, Ireland, India, Thailand and Bangladesh.
5. David Bentley
David Bentley was regarded as one of the burgeoning young talents in English football in the early 2000s but recurrent injuries coupled with inconsistent form meant that he never really went on to fulfil his vast potential.
A youth product of Arsenal, Bentley found first-team opportunities hard to come by at Highbury and made only 9 appearances for the Gunners, spending time on loan at Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers before joining the latter in 2006 on a permanent basis.
Bentley’s spell at Ewood Park proved to be a fruitful one and the versatile attacker starred with 21 goals and 23 assists in 139 appearances for Blackburn in all competitions over the course of four seasons before making a controversial move to Spurs.
His career looked to be heading in the right direction but stiff competition for places and a patchy injury record didn’t help him settle down at Tottenham.
Instead, he spent time on loan at West Ham, Birmingham City and FC Rostov before returning to Blackburn for a final hurrah in 2013. Without a club, Bentley announced his retirement at the age of just 29.
Almost like a new signing – A tactical analysis of why the new season would be pivotal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool
How Oxlade-Chamberlain can be like a new signing to Liverpool
When the Liverpool squad regather for the upcoming pre-season camp, they will have a fully-fit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back in the fold, possibly raring to go from minute one.
Since then, he missed at least nine months of action, with a probability of not being able to play first-team football for another three to four months.
As per the initial prediction, that is what happened and Chamberlain missed the whole of the 2018-19 season, apart from making one appearance off the bench in a Premier League game against Huddersfield in May.
Now with him back and quite evidently raring to start from the scratch, Liverpool and their manager Jurgen Klopp could feel like they have an extra player in the squad for the upcoming season, having managed without him and won the Champions League in the recently-concluded campaign.
Below, we take a look at some of the Englishman’s numbers during his first season at Anfield and conclude why he would be like a “new signing” to the Reds next season:
Ox the boss in the midfield
We all know that when a new player is signed under Jurgen Klopp’s guidance, he takes time to settle into the system of play and the manager also allows him the learning space to grow into his style of play, rather than forcing the issue.
A similar pattern was found when Oxlade-Chamberlain first arrived in Liverpool. He didn’t get a lot of starts till the festive period and was more of a squad player, mostly coming off the bench.
So overall, during the 2017/18 season, the Englishman made 32 league appearances, but only 14 of them were from the start. He scored three goals and provided seven assists, playing in his favoured central midfield position.
Furthermore, with a key pass rate of 1.1, dribble rate of 1.3 and shots per game at an average of 1.2, it was clear that the 25-year-old would be the link between attack and midfield for Liverpool. (Whoscored)
But, the unfortunate injury meant he almost missed the whole of last season, and there were times when Klopp’s men needed someone like him in midfield to break down a stubborn defence.
For example – in games against Leicester City at home and West Ham in London, where a midfield burst and accurate key passing would have opened the door.
So, it won’t be a surprise that the club would be happy to see him back in terms of fitness ahead of a vital pre-season.
From the player’s point of view, he is at the right club at the moment. There was no hesitation from him in admitting that he wanted to play in central midfield when he was at Arsenal (h/t Express). And the Gunners couldn’t provide him with that platform.
For that reason, his numbers in north London weren’t that good (9 goals and 21 assists in 132 league appearances). He was also forced to play the wing role, or operate as a wing-back, which didn’t suit his wish at all.
Thus, having already gained the experience of playing in central midfield for Liverpool and doing well, Oxlade-Chamberlain should be raring to prove his fitness in the coming pre-season and make a huge impact at Anfield next season.
All in all, we can conclude by saying that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Liverpool seemed like a perfect marriage until the former got that long-term injury.
With him back now, expect the Reds to benefit from his power and precision in midfield and make a strong case for winning the league title next season.
Ahead of Aston Villa’s new season in the PL, here’s a look at what happened the last 3 times they got promoted
What happened the previous three times when Aston Villa got promoted
Aston Villa are back in the Premier League three years after they were relegated at the end of the 2015/16 season. This time though, they had to win the playoff final against Derby County to join Norwich City and Sheffield United into the big-time league.
As part of the review, if we analyse their progress from last season, the Villans had a nightmarish start. Finishing in the top-six itself seemed like a herculean task.
Till the festive period, they were languishing at the second half of the table, almost 8-10 points behind the playoff spots. But the change in management in the first week of October did the trick and steady progress was made.
They eventually won every game from 2nd March to 22nd April, which constituted of 10 games. From then on, it was clear that Dean Smith’s men will contest the playoffs and could return to the Premier League this summer itself.
In the two-legged semifinal against West Brom, the tie was decided in the penalty shootouts where goalkeeper Jed Steer was the hero. In the final, Villa showed experience and quality against Derby to win the game, thus securing their ticket to top-flight English football.
Now, before they get ready to compete in the world’s most competitive league, let’s take a look at the last three seasons in which Aston Villa were promoted to the top-flight. Basically, we would like to take some clue as to how they would perform in their first year after promotion.
The previous time Aston Villa had to get promoted to play in top-flight English football was in the summer of 1988 when they finished second behind Millwall in the second division table.
During the 1988-89 top-flight season, Arsenal won the league on the virtue of scoring more goals than Liverpool.
This was because both teams were equal on points and goal difference, but the Gunners went to Anfield on the final day and managed to win the game by an exact margin that gave them the title.
Newly-promoted Aston Villa struggled that season and just managed to survive relegation. They finished the season 17th on the table, just a point ahead of the relegation zone. A major escape that!
Aston Villa got promoted to division one of English football in the summer of 1975 by finishing second behind Manchester United in the second division table.
Liverpool won the league at the end of the 1975-76 top-flight season, with Queens Park Rangers coming second just a point behind the champions.
Villa finished 16th on the table, nine points away from the relegation zone. They looked like a side that had the credibility of staying in the top-flight and making more progress in due course of time.
Aston Villa won the second division title in the summer of 1960 and got promoted to Division One.
During the 1960-61 top-flight season, Tottenham won the league, with Sheffield Wednesday coming second eight points behind the champions.
Villa fared well throughout the campaign, finishing ninth on the table, 11 points away from the relegation zone. In fact, they were only eight points behind fourth-placed Burnley. All in all, it was a comfortable season in the mid-table for the Villans.
One thing can be concluded from all this – Aston Villa don’t generally get relegated back to the Championship the year after they get promoted.
As a result, Dean Smith and his men must aim to keep that record intact and make further progress to stay in the Premier League for a longer period of time.
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