We continue to witness referees in the Premier League adopt the ‘lighter touch’ approach in games.
There is no doubt that it is producing matches that are more enjoyable to watch given there are a lot less stoppages.
The danger to the players of course could be more injuries, as some foul challenges are ignored by referees in favour of keeping the game flowing by applying risky advantages.
The clash between Liverpool and Chelsea saw referee, Anthony Taylor, using all his skill sets and experience to keep a lid on things.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah was pulled back in a challenge and he was expecting the whistle to blow. His response in an act of petulance was to kick the ball away – an act of dissent.
Fabinho, who had a terrific match, was in the thick of the action committing several fouls. Once again, Anthony Taylor applied the light touch, with the Liverpool player lucky to escape a yellow card for these persistent offences.
If the PGMOL are to continue this approach then, like we witnessed in Euro 2020, player behaviour is so important.
The big decision came in added time in the first half when after video review, Chelsea’s number 24, Reece James, was shown a red card for handling the ball on the goal line preventing a goal.
Referee Taylor didn’t fully see the incident and was advised by VAR, Chris Kavanagh, to view the pitch side monitor.
On his way to the screen I would suggest that the VAR explained in detail the sequence of events.
Taylor opened himself up for criticism when, rather than view a video replay, appeared satisfied with a still picture.
Both Taylor and Kavanagh were officials at Euro 2020 and incidents of this nature and procedure will have been discussed and agreed.
The law states: For purposes of determining handball offences, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit. Not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence.
It is an offence if a player: Deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball.
I was satisfied having seen replays that an offence had been committed and that the action of James had denied an obvious goal, which left the referee with no other option than to issue the red card.
The decision certainly left a number of Chelsea players unhappy and they surrounded the referee protesting his decision.
I will be surprised if Chelsea are not charged by the Football Association for failing to control their players.
Watch this space.