The Liverpool – Spurs game was not the most controversial of the weekend but certainly had its moments. Watching the game, it was clear from an early stage that the referee was ‘card-happy’. He seemed to be booking every foul at the start.
One of the crucial yellow cards he gave out in the opening exchanges was to Charlie Adam. It wasn’t an outrageous decision but seemed very harsh to me. It occurred in the middle of the pitch and out wide and was not preventative of a counter attack or overtly cynical. It was a straight-forward shirt pull. Whilst some may like to see the day when every shirt pull is cautioned because it might help cut it out of the game, it would only be fair to let the clubs know of this before implementing it because it certainly hasn’t been the case up to now. For me, this incident did not warrant a yellow card and I thought it was poor refereeing. However, this is discretional and could not be improved by video appeals or such like so I’m happy to say this was not an out-and-out mistake.
Charlie Adam was soon shown a second yellow for a shocking tackle on the edge of the Liverpool box and sent from the field of play. Personally, I felt this was clearly a straight red card. He went in carelessly and aggressively and made contact with Scott Parker high on his leg, close to the knee. It was extremely dangerous and Parker was lucky not to suffer injury as a result. So, in these incidents the ref gave two bookings when I felt he should have given a foul with no card and then a red card for the second one. In this case, you could say two wrongs made a right although there are subtleties which mean this is not the case and anyhow, it was more by luck than judgement.
Skrtel was later sent off for two yellow cards of his own, which were not particularly controversial although I felt the first one was a little harsh. It seemed as though Gareth Bale made an effort to get him booked for a relatively ordinary foul, a skill he has become rather good at recently. Having said that, I would not have seen fit to change that decision given sufficient replays as a video referee.
The last incident I would like to mention briefly in this game was the booking of Luis Suarez for sarcastically applauding a decision. This seems to be widely accepted as fair but I have to say I disagree with this interpretation of the law. Nearly every decision is disputed on the pitch at the time. If a player feels the decision was wrong he always communicates this in some way to the ref. I fail to see how Suarez was doing anything fundamentally different from saying “You’ve got that wrong referee” and his chosen method of communicating this is even more justifiable when you consider he barely speaks English. Even if this decision was technically correct (which I doubt) it certainly isn’t consistent with the refereeing we usually see when players like Wayne Rooney and Craig Bellamy express their distaste for a call going against them in their particular styles.