Keith Hackett column: Michael Oliver set the benchmark at Man United but Martin Atkinson was below-par at Chelsea

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Three referees this weekend produced performances below the level expected and should be taken away from the coal face of the Premier League and given some operational advice.

Simon Hooper failed to award a penalty kick to Leeds United after Dan James was fouled, and, incredibly, VAR Lee Mason, didn’t intervene.

Later in the game, Watford had a good goal ruled out. In the build up to the goal, a Watford player’s shirt was pulled and then he was wrestled to the ground as the ball hit the back of the net.

Hooper wrongly disallowed the goal and VAR Mason should’ve again intervened. It was a clear and obvious error by the referee.

This was Hooper’s first Premier League game of the season and he managed to deliver two major errors.

Martin Atkinson’s nightmare at Chelsea

Meanwhile, Martin Atkinson, who has been a top-class referee for several years, appears to me to be struggling with his form and confidence.

In the 75th minute of the Chelsea vs Southampton game, Atkinson raised a yellow card for a challenge by Ward-Prowse but was advised by VAR to take a look at the monitor.

He did, yellow turned to red and Ward-Prowse was correctly dismissed. It was a challenge that Atkinson shouldn’t have required VAR intervention for.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

Where was VAR for this incident?!

Kevin Friend was in charge of Burnley vs Norwich. And he should look at video replays today along with his VAR, Craig Pawson.

Norwich’s goalkeeper came out for the ball with outstretched arms and clenched fists and hit his opponent fully in the head and face.

This was an offence that warranted a penalty kick. Another clear and obvious error by the referee to not point to the penalty mark.

It was VAR Pawson’s job to intervene and send the referee to the monitor.

Thank God for Michael Oliver

Thankfully, I witnessed an excellent performance by Michael Oliver in the Manchester United vs Everton game.

His work-rate and decision-making sets the benchmark performance for others to achieve.

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