Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from the midweek action and discusses Aleksandar Mitrovic’s eight-game ban for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh.
Is Mitrovic’s ban for ref push strong enough?
INCIDENT: Let’s begin by asking for your thoughts on the ban handed out to Mitrovic following his red card in the FA Cup tie against Manchester United.
Mitrovic was given an eight-game suspension after shoving Kavanagh, meaning he will miss Fulham’s next seven Premier League matches, but the FA believes the punishment should be more severe.
DERMOT SAYS: “Mitrovic’s ban is five games higher than it would have been for a straight red card, so that’s a big step forward.
“But what I would say is the FA have already appealed, so it might not end there. It could be anything, the FA have appealed and said it’s not enough, so at the moment we’re in that limbo land, and we’ll have to see what happens.”
Steve Howey: “I think Mitrovic’s ban should have been longer. If they had given him a really long suspension, I think everyone would then take notice.”
Everton 1-1 Tottenham
INCIDENT: To the Premier League now and it was an incident-filled evening at Goodison Park on Monday Night Football. Abdoulaye Doucoure was sent off for hitting Harry Kane in the face. Was this an easy decision for referee David Coote?
DERMOT SAYS: “It was easy if you recognise it, I think that’s the difference. It’s a red-card offence in my view, there’s no doubt about that. He not only hits him in the face, but he claws him as well.
“Some people have said Harry Kane went down very easily, but I think if I’d have received that, I would have gone down holding my face.”
Steve Howey: “I think even if Kane stays on his feet, it’s a sending off. As soon as Doucoure raises his hands and makes contact, then it’s an easy decision.
“There was a debate over whether Kane should have gone down, but only he will know how aggressive the scratch was. I’m not 100 per cent sure he should have gone down, but ultimately it’s just not good play from Doucoure.”
INCIDENT: There was another red card in the 88th minute. Spurs substitute Lucas Moura was sent off for his challenge on Michael Keane. Was this another blatant red?
DERMOT SAYS: “I think this is a great spot from the referee. When you see it slowed down, it’s easy for the referee because you see the point of contact, you can see where the studs are. When you see that it’s quite clearly a red card.
“But in real time, the referee is 10 yards away. He’s on the move, the players are on the move. I think it’s a really good spot. I think he should get a lot of credit for that.”
INCIDENT: Spurs took the lead from the penalty spot after Michael Keane brought down Cristian Romero. Any arguments here?
DERMOT SAYS: “It’s a penalty. Keane just doesn’t see Romero coming. Keane dangles his leg and Romero goes over. It’s unfortunate, but it is a penalty. There’s no doubt. He just doesn’t get to the ball and gets the man. The referee’s in a perfect position.”
Leicester 1-2 Aston Villa
INCIDENT: Leicester were reduced to 10 players in their loss to Aston Villa when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall received a second yellow card. Did he deserve to be sent off?
DERMOT SAYS: “I didn’t actually think it was the worst tackle in the world. What I would say is, if you’re already on a yellow card, why would you give the referee a decision to make? And that’s what he’s done. He’s given him a decision to make and he thought it was a yellow card and therefore a red card.”
Steve Howey: “I agree with Dermot. I don’t think it’s the worst challenge you’ll ever see, but he’s running a risk. You’ve got to be 100 per cent sure you’re going to get the ball.”
INCIDENT: In the 92nd minute, Leicester thought they had a penalty for Ollie Watkins’ challenge on Patson Daka. Was VAR right to overturn this?
DERMOT SAYS: “Whether you like or dislike VAR, this is exactly what it’s for. When you see it again, Daka quite clearly fouls Watkins, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not a penalty.
“The referee goes to the screen and changes his mind and also rescinds the yellow card. That’s exactly what VAR was brought in for.”
Man Utd 1-0 Brentford
INCIDENT: Marcus Rashford was in an offside position when the ball was first played in ahead of his winner. He was onside from the pass that went directly to him, though. Is there any argument to say he could be affecting the goalkeeper’s position in the first phase?
DERMOT SAYS: “No, I think it’s really interesting how the offside rule has evolved. Without a doubt, when I was a referee, assistants would flag that offside. Now they allow play to continue.
“Rashford clearly doesn’t get involved in the play, he doesn’t affect the goalkeeper and there are no defenders around him. The ball was played to Marcel Sabitzer and, once he heads the ball, Rashford moves back and is behind the ball.
“I think it’s fine because we want to see goals. We don’t want to see them disallowed and I think that’s a good move.”
Steve Howey: “For defenders, it’s a nightmare because you’re always told to get up when you play the ball out. But I think it’s a legitimate goal.”
West Ham 1-5 Newcastle
INCIDENT: A Joelinton goal was checked for offside in Newcastle’s thrashing of West Ham. Is this a case of a well-timed run by the striker and good that VAR could prove it?
DERMOT SAYS: “This was amazing because when I saw it live I thought he must be yards offside. I can understand why Scott Ledger felt it was offside. But when you look at it again, he’s quite clearly onside and that shows what the VAR was set up for. A really good intervention.”
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool
INCIDENT: Now to Chelsea’s goalless draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Let’s start with Reece James’ disallowed goal for offside. What did you make of it?
DERMOT SAYS: “You have to give the assistant massive credit because Enzo Fernandez is offside and he flags offside before James shoots.
“I think when you look at the VAR and how tight it is, the assistant has got it absolutely right in play. He’s given it as offside, they’ve checked it and I think it’s a great spot.”
INCIDENT: In the second half there was another goal ruled out for Chelsea, this time for a handball by Kai Havertz. Is this just unlucky?
DERMOT SAYS: “He must have felt gutted but it’s a consequence of the handball rule.
“The ball hits his hand and goes in. He has no idea it’s going to happen and he probably doesn’t even know it’s happened, but it does hit his elbow and go in. Referees don’t like the rule, players don’t like the rule, but it is the rule.”
Steve Howey: “It’s not deliberate and if anything he’s probably trying to get his hand out of the way. But we all know the directive. It is very unfortunate but we know the rules.”
Leeds 2-1 Nottingham Forest
INCIDENT: Leeds wanted a penalty against Nottingham Forest. Robin Koch felt as though he was brought down unfairly by Remo Freuler here. Anything in this one?
DERMOT SAYS: “There was a lot of grabbing but you see this all the time. Was it sustained holding? I would say no. He puts his arm around him but he lets go very, very quickly. Is it enough to bring Koch down like that? I don’t think so, so I think the referee got this one right.”
Bournemouth 0-2 Brighton
INCIDENT: Let’s get to Bournemouth against Brighton. Lewis Cook was booked for a challenge on Solly March. Was just a yellow card the correct decision?
DERMOT SAYS: “I think a yellow card is the right decision. He’s very close, so when he’s very close there’s no massive impact. There isn’t the intensity going in.
“He’s caught him, there’s no doubt about that, but the referee is in a great position. He’s seen where the player has come from and that makes a big difference. The impact isn’t that great, so I’d say yellow card.”