>Clattenburg controversy in action packed weekend

>In a weekend that witnessed one of the most bizarre goals of Premier League history, Chelsea maintained their grip at the top of the title pack while Manchester United and Arsenal eventually took all three points from their opponents.

The controversy began in the late Saturday kick off.  Manchester United versus Tottenham.  A game billed as a spectacle.  The billing was certainly correct, but only for the wrong reasons.  In a tight contest that only mainly saw shots from distance going the goalkeeper’s way, Vidic thundered in a header in the first half to give United the lead.  Tottenham tried to find a route back into the game as Bale went close, but United were wrongly awarded a second goal to fight off any late pressure from Spurs.  The ball was played through to Nani who appeared to dive and then handled the ball in a plea to say he was fouled. Clattenburg correctly took none of Nani’s nonsense and said there was no foul.  Goalkeeper Gomes then placed the ball down to take a free kick for Nani’s handball.  However, Clattenburg had not awarded a free-kick and Nani stole in to drill the ball home for an easy goal that surely would not stand.  The incensed Tottenham players ran to the assistant referee who had is flag raised, and were happy to allow Clattenburg and his associate to sort out the matter. Rio Ferdinand, despite no longer being the United captain, came racing over to join in the dialogue before astonishingly Clattenburg signalled that the goal would stand. Harry Redknapp was fuming and rightly so, as common sense should surely have overridden the decision.  The game was effectively over as a contest but it will be interesting to see whether Clattenburg will be in charge of a game next weekend following the debacle.

Prior to the incident, the traditional Saturday afternoon 3pm kick offs were tightly fought contests. Arsenal welcomed West Ham to The Emirates, and despite dominating possession and chances they could not find a way past the in form Robert Green who continues his rehabilitation following his world cup nightmare. Arsenal continued to press, and with two minutes left they finally got their reward as Alex Song snatched a dramatic victory with a diving header. The win maintained Arsenal’s recent good form, but also consigned West Ham to the bottom of the league, and they are now four points away from safety already.

Arsenal’s title rivals Chelsea travelled to Ewood Park in the North West which has recently not been a happy hunting ground for the London club.  Chelsea suffered defeat twice at Blackburn last season and must have thought the same was going to happen this time as free signing Benjani stormed his way into the Chelsea box to smash a shot past Petr Cech. The lead was only what Blackburn deserved, who are rumoured to be close to a takeover from foreign investors.  Nevertheless, Nicolas Anelka drilled home after Drogba knocked the ball down for him before Ivanovic scored the winner for Chelsea. Jason Roberts missed a sitter to salvage something for Rovers, who remain close to the drop zone.

With wins for Chelsea and Arsenal, Manchester City would have thought nothing less than three points from a struggling Wolves side would do for them.  Adebayor slotted home a penalty after Silva was brought down unnecessarily in the box and looked to be on their way to victory.  However, Wolves clearly wanted the victory more than City did and forced their way back into the game with a Milijas strike from twenty yards that managed to beat Joe Hart.  City, who were playing a more attacking game than normal, were then punished as David Edwards scored for The Midlands side to win the game.  Vincent Kompany and Emanuel Adebayor were clearly seen to be shouting at each other rather theatrically suggesting they were not happy with eachothers’ performances, but if City have any hopes of a title race they will surely need to improve and quickly.

In the mid-table battles, Everton overcame Stoke by one goal to nil as Yakubu powered in an effort that won all the three points. Stoke had a goal disallowed as Leighton Baines bundled the ball into his own net, but it was ruled out for a push by Tuncay. Meanwhile, Mark Hughes’ Fulham comfortably saw off Wigan at Craven Cottage as Clint Dempsey netted twice to win the game for this season’s draw specialists.  

The attention turned to Sunday which saw two derby games as Newcastle welcomed Sunderland and Aston Villa hosted Birmingham.  The Midland derby was a bit of a dull contest as Villa were forced to play the long ball towards an ineffective Emile Heskey.  Birmingham had their chances to nick it but the goalless draw was fair in a colourless game.  

The same cannot be said for Newcastle Sunderland game.  Newcastle were clearly fired up for the game and Sunderland found Andy Carroll, Shola Ameobi and Kevin Nolan in great form.  Kevin Nolan netted a place in Toon folklore with a hat trick while Ameobi netted twice, including one from the penalty spot.  Titus Bramble was sent off for a professional foul, while Darren Bent scored a consolation goal in injury time. The win propels The Toon Army up the league and should end speculation surrounded Chris Hughton’s future as manager.  

The weekend’s action was rounded off at The Reebok as Bolton, who had not lost at home all season, played Liverpool.  Bolton seemed to be the more likely to win the game as Kevin Davies and Elmander threatened.  However, the off-form Torres played a sublime back heel through Cahill’s legs to allow Maxi to steal in and finish to take all three points for the Anfield club.  The away fans were jubilant and celebrated emphatically, perhaps suggesting a sign of the times that a one-nil win away to Bolton could be celebrated in such a manner.  

By Oliver Holmes


2 Comments to “>Clattenburg controversy in action packed weekend”

  1. >Not sure I agree with you there on the Nani goal – the referee indicated that advantage should be played (quite rightly, the keeper had the ball in his hand and refs can be too quick to award free kicks when it just breaks up the rhythm of the play). Once the advantage has been played (and not impeded by the initial foul), the referee is not there to save embarrassment if the player makes a mistake. Gomes clearly made a mistake in putting the ball down, rather than playing from his hands – that's his fault not the referees, and perhaps Spurs fans should be asking what on earth he was doing, especially when advantage had been indicated, rather than trying to blame the referee!

  2. >Gomes rolled the ball out 15 yards … the linesman didnt have his flag up until nani was in stretford end and gomes had gone to the assistant linesman looking like he was gonna punch him! In my opinion the assistant bottled it and let clattenberg deal with it. The term 'calamity gomes' should be re-introduced!MB

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