Michael Oliver

Ref Watch – Michael Oliver: West Ham vs Spurs

Author: . Published: at 6:39pm

Written by SamRoyden – Referee Analysis

After scraping through against Huddersfield in our first home game of the season and getting a point away at West Brom, we welcomed Spurs to the London Stadium in a highly anticipated London rival.

The referee appointed for this fixture was Michael Oliver, who has started the season really well especially handing last weeks London derby at Stamford Bridge where he subsequently sent off David Luiz for a horrendous two footed challenge.

I was impressed by Michael Olivier during the first half. Oliver was keen to allow the game flow but blew for some careless fouls in the first ten minutes to set his expectations for the game. Oliver was eagle eyed to see some blocking from Spurs midfielder Sanchez at a Spurs corner which was clearly a tactic from the training ground and Oliver was quick to stamp out.

I questioned a couple of offside decisions by both Simon Bennet and Stuart Burt in the first half. A very strange decision from Mr Bennet by signalling that Mark Noble was offside, when the West Ham midfielder was at least 10 yards behind the second to last defender when in fact it was Javier Hernandez in the offside position but wasn’t interfering with play.

There were question marks about whether Harry Kane was offside for his first goal and he was definitely onside. When the ball was originally played by Christian Eriksen, Kane was in an offside position but not interfering with play as the ball was being played into the channels for Dele Alli, with Kane more central to the goal, Alli was being kept onside by Jose Fonte. Kane managed to get himself back onside once Angelo Ogbonna sprinted back into position before Kane connected to Alli’s cross.

West Ham had two penalty shouts in the first half and I think there is a case for at least one of them but nowadays there is a grey area over handball and whether it’s deliberate or not. The first penalty appeal was when Marco Arnautovic and Serge Aurier were battling into the penalty area, both players with handfuls of each other shirts, before the Spurs right back made a very well timed tackle. For me, it was six of one, half a dozen of another. There was more of a case for the second penalty appeal than the first but in my opinion I would have been harsh. Serge Aurier was involved again and as he went up for a header, the ball hit his arm on his way down after mistiming his jump. I don’t believe this was deliberate handball as the players momentum was on the way down and naturally the players arms were coming down with the rest of his body.

Michael Oliver’s player management was very good in the first half. Firstly, Oliver was keen to speak to the former PSG man after a couple of fouls on Kouyate and Cresswell in the opening 15 minutes. Oliver made the decision to speak to Serge Aurier and Kane and gave Aurier his final warning before further punishment. Oliver controlled the situation well after some handbags with Mark Noble and Sissoko. Instead of branding yellow cards after some words between the pair and coming together over Mark Noble’s challenge, Oliver kept his calm and gave them both just a swift talking too.

It was a feisty second half that Michael Oliver had to control, with both teams pushing and shoving in the final minutes of added time. There were another two penalty appeals in the second half, one for each team with Spurs appeal early on. Dele Alli went down under pressure from West Ham’s Winston Reid – for me Alli went down a little too easily and the contact made by Reid wasn’t obvious from my perspective and wasn’t enough to tumble to the floor.

West Ham’s third penalty appeal on the other hand was a penalty in my opinion and I am somewhat disappointed that the assistant referee missed a slight, but obvious push on a jumping Andy Carroll. It’s very easy to say that a nudge on a player like Andy Carroll wouldn’t make much of a difference, but when the player is running and jumping at speed, the slightest of unexpected nudge, would put you a player off and throw off their concentration. It was difficult to see Michael Oliver’s positioning as he is likely to be placed between the far end of the 18 yard box and the D of the penalty area for corners but the assistant referee would have been directly in line with Carroll and other members of the defence team on the goal line.

Serge Aurier should have no complaints for being sent off for the accumulation of fouls and for a very unnecessary challenge from behind which gave Michael Oliver one of the easiest decisions he had to make in the match. It was on 64 minutes when Michael Oliver issued Serge Aurier his first yellow card of the game for persistent infringement of the laws and pointed to the various positions on the pitch where fouls have occurred. Six minutes later, the former PSG man brought down Andy Carroll with a nasty challenge from behind and Oliver was on the spot to give him his marching orders. Oliver’s player management, particular with Serge Aurier, was excellent throughout the game.

There were a flurry of cautions at the end of the game when handbags were being thrown after an obvious push on Andy Carrol was missed by Micheal Oliver and in frustration Andy Carroll barged back into Eric Dier which was given as a foul by Mr Oliver – this subsequently saw a 22 man involvement of pushing and shoving. Nothing too sinister from either set of players that I could see but unsporting with time deep into extra time. The FA are keen to ensure players and teams are controlled during a game and no doubt both teams will be fined for not controlling their players. Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Eric Dier and Fernando Llorente were cautioned for their involvement.

Overall, I thought that Micheal Oliver had a very good game and he does set the benchmark within the Elite Select Group of referees. His player management, control and composer during games is excellent, which put him heads and shoulders above the rest.


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  • 24th September 2017 at 11:09 am

    Hi Michael, I’m somewhat confused in regards to Harry Kane’s first goal, Ithought it was offside, although to be fair I appear to be in a very small minority and I didn’t even see any West Ham players complaining 🙂 Perhaps you could clear it up for me? Harry’s very presence (albeit some way from the goal) must have been a distraction for the West Ham goalkeeper when deciding on his positioning and in the process may have deceived him. It’s all very subjective isn’t it? 🙂