This is one of the most exciting title races in Premier League history. Any one of four clubs is still in with a realistic chance of winning the league. The smallest of incidents could send seismic waves through the title race, so the last thing we need is for referees to get two massive decisions wrong and give two teams three massive points.
The first of decisions came from the early game on Sunday, where leaders Leicester took on Arsenal. In all fairness to Martin Atkinson, it was a difficult game to referee. He did get the decision to award the Foxes a penalty right though, as it was a clear foul by Nacho Monreal on Jamie Vardy.
The major turning point took place midway through the second half when Danny Simpson was dismissed for a second bookable offence. I must say, I disagree. Although both challenges were worthy of fouls, they were certainly not enough to see him sent off. Ultimately this changed the course of the game and led to Danny Welbeck’s last minute winner. The result was harsh on Leicester, and especially on N’Golo Kante, who was brilliant all day long, and put in what was probably the best defensive midfield performance in the Premier League this season.
It was another refereeing decision that turned the second game of the day, this time between Manchester City and Tottenham. This time it was Mark Clattenburg making a mistake by giving City a penalty. I don’t think the ball even hits Raheen Sterling’s arm, and if it does, it’s the smallest of touches and certainly isn’t deliberate. This really set the wheels in motion for Spurs, and though they probably deserved the win thanks to Christian Eriksen’s brilliant finish, I doubt they would have got it without the penalty. In all honesty, I don’t think Clattenburg and Atkinson are the best two referees in the country, as I think Michael Oliver makes much better decisions.
It was a fascinating week at the bottom of the table as well, where for two teams, there were shocking performances, and for another, there was a famous win. In terms of Aston Villa, they put in one of the most disgraceful Premier League performances of all time when they were beaten 6-0 by Liverpool, a result unsurprisingly over-celebrated by the Reds. I think we can now say that Villa will definitely be a Championship side next season.
Newcastle but in a performance of a similar level as they were beaten 5-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but it was a different story for the other side on Tyneside. Sunderland produced what could be their one of their biggest ever Premier League wins, beating Manchester United 2-1. Admittedly, this is probably the worst United team for 20 years, but in 30 years time, no one will remember that.
In the FA Cup, there were two replays of very different standards. The game played out between Peterborough and West Brom was one of the worst I have seen all season, apart from the odd bit of individual skill by the Peterborough winger who looked like he had stayed up past his bed time, and it was no surprise when Tony Pulis’ side won on penalties. In the other game, a much better quality tie between West Ham and Liverpool saw the Hammers snatch it thanks to a brilliant last minute header by Angelo Ogbonna.
On the European front, everyone has been talking about THAT Barcelona penalty. In my opinion, it is disrespectful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s genius, but I don’t think it is right to do that in a competitive match against fellow professionals. I said last week that Gary Neville’s days could be numbered, but maybe now that number is slightly higher after his first league win. I don’t want him to fail as a manger, but I think we all want to see him back on Monday Night Football.
This week sees the return of European football, and the massive tie between PSG and Chelsea that could decide whether the Blues’ season is a success, or a failure.