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WINTER'S WORLD WEEKEND REVIEW: MAJOR TALKING POINTS AT MANCHESTER UNITED AND LIVERPOOL GAMES
29th April 2014

The euphoria was all about Ryan Giggs and after a very slow start the players who hadn't done it for David Moyes turned on the style, albeit against a poor Norwich side.

With all the hype about Giggs the penalty award went under the radar. No problems with the award of the spot kick, but why wasn't Steven Whittaker sent off? I have never been a fan of referee Lee Probert and the fact that he has been appointed to referee this year's FA Cup Final shows just what a lack of depth there is in the current top flight match officials.

I have tried to make a case for his defence by considering that as Danny Welbeck wasn't actually in control of the ball then perhaps it wasn't a red card, but I just can't see that he was about to get the ball with only the keeper to beat so it had to be a red card.

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In the vital game at Craven Cottage again more penalty area questions. Long was nudged by Amorebieta and it should have been a penalty and another red card. I suppose you could say that the errors by Lee Mason evened themselves out because Davis was guilty of a handball in his own penalty area late on in the game that should also have seen a penalty kick awarded.

Swansea pushed Aston Villa nearer the drop zone but were helped on there way by the first goal being allowed when Bony was marginally offside; it was a tight one but he was off. Sympathy for the assistant because the conditions were abysmal and in driving rain it was an error of inches rather than yards.

The Swans domination was emphasised by the award of a late penalty for afoul on Marvin Emnes by Baker who had already been cautioned and was very fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card. The refs must have gone soft this weekend.

Likewise at St Mary's; in fairness Everton didn't look like they deserved anything out of the game but they were very unlucky not to have received two penalty kicks.

Osman went down in the penalty area and it looked as if he had done that because the ball looked to be going out of play. It was a foul however and to add insult to injury he was cautioned for simulation. The second incident was when McCarthy looked to have made a meal out of a challenge, that didn't do him and favours but on closer inspection he was held. It was a clear shirt pull and should have been a penalty, his reaction though as he then propelled himself forward in exaggeration didn't help his cause.

It wouldn't be normal if Mark Hughes wasn't moaning but I don't know what his problem was. Shawcross surely couldn't have any complaints for his first yellow card after a blatant body check; having already been cautioned to go in for the ball with your studs showing was foolish. Its not as if he hasn't antecedence so should by now have learnt to calm down.

Hughes wanted Rose sent off, but the referee, Andre Marriner, was correct to only caution the Spurs player for unsporting behaviour. His reaction was foolish but a push to the chest is not deemed as violent conduct. Hughes couldn't resist a cheap dig at the referee bringing up a recent mistake by the Midlands referee and suggesting he was guessing. The ref, had he seen it though, could easily have sent Adebayor off for a wayward elbow.

Sunday and matches significant at both ends of the table. Firstly Sunderland thrashed a poor Cardiff outfit helped on there way by another penalty kick accompanied by a red card. The dismissal was 100% correct. The initial contact was outside the penalty area but it continued onto into the penalty area. Morally it was probably the correct decision though the amount of time Ref Phil Dowd played the advantage for before awarding the penalty probably stretched the interpretation to the limit. He reffed the game well in his uncompromising style though and I would support his handling of the flashpoint incident.

Another ref who had a cracking game was Martin Atkinson at Anfield. A very tense affair with tempers bubbling below boiling point was superbly controlled sensibly without any major incident. As much as I don't like him, you have to hand it to the Special One, he gets results in the big matches.

The final Sunday game saw Manchester City, buoyed by the Liverpool result, win comfortably in another game expertly handled by one of the world's finest referees, my old room mate Howard Webb, fresh form his Champions League semi-final where he once again did the country proud. His positioning and man management was as usual top draw but I would take issue with one aspect. He decided to speak to Jerome Cameron and give him a warning after a pathetic dive to try and win a free kick. When players cheat they should be cautioned!!

No surprises on Monday evening as hapless Newcastle United were comprehensively beaten by an Arsenal side that didn't need to progress out of second gear. They were helped on their way though with Ozil's goal.

Arsenal were just onside in the build up but Ozil only had one defender beyond him as Giroud's shot was saved by the keeper before going to the Gunner who was offside when the ball was played.

Have a good week.





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