The Refs Have a Rough Weekend: The 6 Things That Mattered This Weekend In The Premier League


We get it. Not everyone wants to wake up at 7:45 on a weekend morning to watch soccer, especially when college football and the NFL demand our attention the rest of the day. It takes a certain type of dedication to embrace football as the world knows it. Luckily for you, TSFJ’s soccer heads Dillon Friday and Carden Hedelt take it upon themselves to watch as much of the Barclays Premier League as possible. The two gents are kind enough to share their thoughts here. Feel free to sleep in next weekend. We’ve got you covered.  

Do Better, Refs

Not all officials are created equal. Nobody has as much power with a whistle as a soccer referee. Just between red cards and penalty kicks, they can singlehandedly change a game that by nature does not have a lot of scoring. There were a few bad calls in some games from this weekend, some correctable and some that will never be.

The first incident from the Liverpool-West Bromwich Albion game was an incorrectly called penalty.

The foul occurs outside the box and the referee gives West Brom the penalty kick anyway. It would be easy to correct this kind of call using a system similar to the NHL's review system--having a centralized replay headquarters where an official could review and give a correct judgement. We all know the game is fast and it's hard to make some of these calls on the fly. Referees are just going to screw up sometimes but when it's easily correctable, it should be. This is never a penalty because it's outside the 18-yard box. It's clear as day with a few camera angles.

Not all calls are so cut and dry. There were two calls in the Arsenal-Chelsea game that could have changed this game and a few subsequent games as well.

Chelsea's Gary Cahill could have been sent off for a clumsy challenge against Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez in the first half. The same could be said for Arsenal's Danny Welbeck for a two-footed challenge, which is an automatic red card with or without contact, against Cesc Fabregas in the game's closing moments. Yet both players saw only yellow cards for their fouls.

I don't think there will ever be a fix for discipline during games. Even in Welbeck's case, when it's clear that the player should have been sent off, the most that will happen is a ban of a few games after the match. You just have to hope for the best, which shouldn't be enough.



Obligatory Manchester United Update: David de Gea Just Might Be Good

Replacing a legend is not easy anywhere in the world but it's especially difficult in Manchester, England. Just ask Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, who made his way to the Premier League as a 20-year-old to succeed the retiring Edwin Van der Sar.

Van der Sar won four league titles, two league cups, and appeared in three Champions League finals, winning one, in his six seasons with the Red Devils. He was the kind of player Sir Alex Ferguson loved: experienced, intelligent, and, well, good. De Gea's arrival marked a changing of the guard movement. United, reliant on old-hands like Van der Sar, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, and Gary Neville for so long, started getting younger.

The youthful de Gea was poorly prepared for the pressure. Every mistake he made was grossly exaggerated. Ferguson dropped him from the starting lineup multiple times. Fans rode him for bad goals. Even an incident where he allegedly stole a donut became national news. When de Gea found himself on the bench the next game, people blamed that lone Krispy Kreme.

The Spaniard struggled to adjust to both the league and the country that first year. Any youngster with a tenuous grasp of the native tongue and a naivete unblemished by championship-hungry fans would. But he wasn't as bad as United supporters would have you believe, and he proved it a year later when the Red Devils won the Premier League.

De Gea could even claim the distinguished title of being the Red Devils' most consistent performer in the disastrous 2013-14 campaign. But the criticism, for the most part, hasn't stopped. He might just be the second-most scrutinized player in Manchester behind City counterpart Joe Hart. Surrendering nine goals to MK Dons and Leicester City didn't help de Gea's cause.

Sunday against Everton, an important match for both clubs with Champions League aspirations, de Gea was nothing short of brilliant. He saved a Leighton Baines penalty and later dove high to his left to deny the Toffees a stoppage time equalizer.

Manchester United quietly slipped into fourth place with the win. The Red Devils have de Gea to thank.



The Hell You Doin', Harry Redknapp?

There are places where you just don't answer your phone: the dinner table, the movie theater, etc.

Add the sidelines to that list.


More than anything, it's shocking that Harry Redknapp has a smart phone. He's the type of guy who would still have a flip phone or one of those old-school rectangular Nokias that felt like a brick in your pocket.



The Specialist In Failure Vs. The Special One

After Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea, Arsene Wenger remains winless in 12 attempts against Jose Mourinho. If that wasn't enough, the two have long loathed each other.

In 2005, Wenger warned that Mourinho's often cynical tactics, namely playing for 0-0, would threaten the integrity of soccer. "Once a sport encourages teams who refuse to take the initiative," he said, "the sport is in danger."

Mourinho responded by calling Wenger a "voyeur." Last year, the Chelsea manager, known as "The Special One" dubbed his counterpart in North London a "Specialist in failure" in reference to Arsenal's trophy drought.

Tempers flared again on Sunday when Gary Cahill's lunge on Alexis Sanchez received a yellow and not red card.



Who knew the French could be so confrontational? Wenger looks like a guy at the club who goes to the bathroom and comes back to find another dude with his chick. And yes, Mourinho is the sort of person who would do that to a fellow man.



Carden's Goal Of The Weekend: Adam Lallana Gets Off The Mark For Liverpool

The quick footwork from Adam Lallana makes this goal, Lallana's first for Liverpool, something special. Lallana receives the ball from Rickie Lambert, works the ball around a challenge by shuffling the ball behind him before passing to Jordan Henderson who flicks the ball back into Lallana's path just in time to finish it strong into the opposite corner of the goal.



Dillon's Goal Of The Weekend: Diego Costa And Cesc Fabregas Are Worth Every Penny

This goal is all about the pass. Cesc Fabregas now has seven assists on the season. Diego Costa has scored nine times in seven games. And to think Arsene Wenger didn't bring Fabregas back to Arsenal during the transfer window because "We have Mesut Ozil." Not sure that's working out too well right now.

We'll see you next week.


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