Premier League Matchday 3 Recap
Just 3 weeks in and the Premier League Association already has issues that need to be resolved. Players, managers and fans have all expressed their outrage at how the new handball rules are ruining the sport, by punishing the unavoidable and the rules resulting in a ridiculous amount of penalty kicks in the first 3 rounds of the season. In the first 28 games there has been a WHOPPING 20 penalties awarded. To put this in perspective, there were, on average, 94 penalties awarded in the entirety of each of the last 5 seasons. If the current rules are not amended, we could see over 270 penalties awarded this season, which is almost a 200% increase in the 5-year average!
URef users have shown their frustrations with these referee decisions in particular. Peter Bankes’ decision to award Newcastle United a penalty in the 94th minute after Carroll headed the ball into Dier’s arm received just a 36% approval rate. There are distinct characteristics in these decisions which deem them so unpopular with all involved in the sport. Close range infringements, natural arm positions and passages of play where it is ridiculous to suggest the player could do anything to move his arm out of the way are just some examples of these decisions that have infuriated teams in the league.
The Premier League Match Officials (PGMOL) have succumbed to the pressure and vowed to use discretion when assessing the body position of players in question. This should come a long way into alleviating the major issues with the new laws. However, the referees will be forced to blow their whistle for infringements where the hand is above the shoulder, as this falls directly under the guidelines with the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
Everyone part of the game will have a keen eye on next weekend to see how the game is officiated because it simply cannot continue this way.
Referee of the Week
While the amount of penalties awarded this season has been under scrutiny, there is no denying Leicester deserved all 3 penalties and all 3 points at the Etihad Stadium. Michael Oliver made 3 correct decisions and URef users had an average approval rating on 86% for all 3 key decisions. While City’s defenders all made horrible decisions in the box, Michael Oliver did not set a foot wrong on the weekend and is deservedly the Referee of the Week!
Team Fortune Recap
With Leicester being awarded 5 penalties so far this season, they predictably sit atop the Team Fortune ladder with a +5 differential. Crystal Palace, as they were at the end of last season, sit 2nd on the ladder with a +3 differential. At the other end, West Ham and newcomers West Brom both have differentials of -3, after penalties and red cards have cost both teams’ valuable points in the first few weeks of the season.
Stat of the Week
Stuart Atwell awarded a ridiculous NINE yellow cards in the match between Fulham and Aston Villa. No surprise last season’s most trigger-happy match official!
Next Week Look Out for…
With the PGMOL stating they will soften their application of the new handball rules, we hope to see a genuine leniency of the laws. Despite the controversy, it is great to see the association take note of opinions around the league and make the necessary changes so we can get back to watching football the way it was intended!