Ref Watch – Burnley vs West Ham – Stuart Attwell

Author: . Published: at 6:17pm

Written by @SamRoyden

After a pretty dire 1-nil win at home to Swansea before the international break, we visited Turf Moor to play a Burnley side sitting 7th in the league before this game and only conceding five goals this season.

The referee appointed for this Saturday afternoon fixture was Stuart Attwell. Attwell has had a challenging career as an elite referee. He was demoted back in 2012 and has spent the majority of his time in the lower leagues. This is Attwell’s third Premier League appointment of the season, in which he’s made 61 appearances in total during his career, with over 200 appointments in the Championship, League One and League Two – I feel that Attwell needs to get an early foothold in the game with special focus and emphasis on player management and controlling the game without making rash decisions.

During the first half, Attwell looked nervous and looked like an official that was lacking confidence and I can only sympathise but to be within the Elite Select Group, you have to be up to the task.

Attwell did start the game well and within the first two minutes he had to make a decision on a foul from Cheikhou Kouyaté just inside his half. Attwell made the correct decision in my opinion to just speak to Kouyaté rather than branding a yellow card too early in the game. There wasn’t anything cynical from the challenge, it was careless and slightly late. There are better ways to control the game in the early stages and player management is key.

Attwell did let a few challenges go in the first half, one being when Kouyaté was climbing to challenge the ball in the air but caught and clattered the Burnley man. Another was when Scott Arfield was late into a challenge with Michail Antonio and he caught the West Ham man on the half way line.

The biggest talking point of the half was Andy Carroll getting sent off for receiving two yellow cards with both incidences within 1 minute 40 seconds of each other. Referees this season have been harsh on occasions with the bigger men in the league, particularly those strikers who are big and strong like Chris Wood, Romeu Lukaku, Andy Carroll.

When it comes to jumping to challenge for a ball, you naturally use your arms for leverage but as a referee you have consider the following: Does the striker lead with the elbow? Was there intent to injure and/or harm the opponent? Is the players fist closed or open? The first challenge by Andy Carroll I genuinely thought he was unlucky to get a yellow card, there was contact but the contact wasn’t deliberate to harm this opponent and leverage was key to win the ball. However, the second yellow card was a completely different situation and I understand why Attwell made his decision. The challenge by Carrol was extremely poor and I’ll explain you why; When you saw Andy Carroll lead with his elbow and a closed fist, there was intent to harm from my perspective and it’s an incredibly, stupid decision from Carroll.

In the second half, Attwell began to struggled and it’s difficult especially when the decisions were simply a couple of metres in front of him and I have no defence for why he made those decisions. During the second half, Burnley’s Ben Mee made at least three fouls, majority on Javier Hernandez, which accompanied a handful of fouls in the first half but Attwell had no intention to caution Ben Mee. I like to see referees manage the game without showing cards at every foul, like Attwell did well in the first half, however there is only a certain amount of times that a foul can be careless and persistently infringing laws of the game.

There were a handful of cautions in the second half with Pedro Obiang going into Attwell’s notebook after an incredibly late challenge on Steven Defour. Obiang couldn’t have had any complaints with Attwell’s decision to caution him for this challenge.

Chris Wood and Winston Reid were both cautioned after Wood scored the equaliser in the 85th minute. Both players tangled in the goal mouth with Wood showcasing excessive force to push Winston Reid into the net, whilst Winston Reid was time wasting by holding on to the ball.

Overall, Stuart Attwell’s performance was overshadowed by a number of decisions that were incorrectly awarded. It’s about understanding the mindset of the referee performing on the biggest stage in the Premier League: the players are quicker, more talented, powerful – it’s a completely different level to the Championship and other lower leagues in England. Attwell has a lot to do in terms of game management and player management to be up there with the best Elite’s in England.

A note on West Ham, it’s hard to comprehend that a team full of defensive minded coaches can’t get experienced, professional players to close out a game with 5 minutes left. Am I being too harsh that we had 10 men for majority of the game? Maybe so, but these decisions are key for surviving in the Premier League and not being pulled into a relegation battle. The performance was a lot better than Swansea which I heard from multiple people that it was one of the worst games since moving to the London Stadium. Up next is Brighton at home for Friday Night Football live on Sky Sports – Another big game for us to secure the maximum points.


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