Written by Sam Royden-Ryell

I’m starting to find the international breaks very tedious especially watching England and thankfully the final international break of 2016 has passed and we can focus on the Premier League again! It was great to see Aaron Cresswell being called up to the England squad and making his England debut against Spain. Cresswell has been the standout performer for West Ham for the last couple of seasons and it was more than deserved. This week, FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against England and Scotland for wearing poppy’s on Armistice Day. I find this completely ridiculous and unnecessary by FIFA. Law 4 (Equipment) from the Laws of The Game states that “equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images. Players must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other”. From my understanding of the law, neither the English nor Scottish FA have broken Law 4 and it’s disappointing that England and Scotland are likely to receive punishment for their actions.

West Ham currently sit in a very uncomfortable position just above the relegation zone and today we visited White Hart Lane for a highly anticipated London derby against Tottenham in which we needed 3 points. Mark Noble was missing from the squad from after picking up 5 yellow cards this season and Slaven Bilic made some surprising but encouraging changes. Darren Randolph replaced Adrian in goal and Diafra Sakho was back from injury and making his first start of the season. The referee appointed for this fixture was Mike Dean.

Mike Dean had a good first half in this London derby making some good decisions. It was Dean’s assistant that made the first good decision of the game to correctly flag Christian Erikson’s goal offside. The Spurs playmaker was offside by about a foot and it was a great decision. We’ve seen that throughout the Premier League, holding in the penalty area is still an issue and this season referees are cracking down on it. Mike Dean is one of the consistent referees to do this having awarded 7 penalties in 9 games so far this season and at least a 4 of them have been for holding. Angelo Ogbonna needed to be careful in the first half as he continued to hold Harry Kane in the penalty area and we couldn’t afford to give Dean a decision to make.

The first caution of the first half went to West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine was tracking back and caught Danny Rose with a sliding challenge. It was a little reckless by Lanzini and a caution was the correct decision. Cheikhou Kouyaté was in the wars in the first half and found himself face down in the technical area after a challenge by Vincent Janssen. Janssen was late on Kouyate and after some delay and getting the brunt of Bilic’s anger, Dean awarded a free-kick. Mousa Dembélé was the second player to be cautioned in the first half after throwing the ball away in frustration. Dean awarded a free-kick against Dembélé after the Belgium body checked Diafra Sakho.

Within the first 5 minutes of the second half, Dean had to make two big decisions. The first was to determine whether Jan Vertonghen fouled Dimitri Payet inside the penalty area. The answer is no; Vertonghen challenge was perfectly timed and Dean and his assistant got this spot on. However, the second decision I don’t think Mike Dean saw it and there is no excuse. In the build up to the Spurs equaliser, in my opinion, I felt that Vincent Janssen controlled the ball with his arm before having a shot on goal which Randolph saved and then the ball ricocheted into the path of Harry Winks. I do sympathise with Dean as the shot was played at such a pace but the position that you take up outside the penalty area is key.

The third caution of the game went to Kyle Walker. The Tottenham right back was late on Dimitri Payet and the caution was correctly issued. Tottenham felt that they should have had a penalty for hand ball against Michail Antonio. Antonio’s back was to the ball and arms by his side when the ball hit his arm and no way was this a penalty in my opinion.

There were two yellow cards given by Dean in quick succession, one to Danny Rose and the other to Antonio. Rose was cautioned for diving in late on Michail Antonio and it was his trailing leg that caught Antonio. After Rose fouled Antonio, Antonio then fouled Rose. Rose was driving to West Ham’s penalty area and Antonio lunged into the challenge and caught Rose’s foot, both challenges of which yellow cards were issued.

I mentioned earlier about holding in the penalty area and Mike Dean awarded his 8th penalty this season after Vincent Janssen brought down Winston Reid during a West Ham corner. Janssen wrestled Reid to the ground and Dean pointed straight to the spot. Personally, I feel that holding is down to luck and whether the referee focuses on that player. There is so much going on inside a penalty area that the referee has to digest, it’s impossible to see everything. However, this was a foul and Mike Dean got this absolutely spot on.

Mike Dean could have given his 9th penalty and second of the game when Ogbonna and Harry Kane were tussling inside the West Ham penalty area. Both players were holding each other within close proximity and it wasn’t an obvious intent to foul the Spurs striker. When you look at both incidents in isolation, it was obvious that Janssen wanted to prevent Reid gaining an advantage. However, Dean did award his second penalty of the game after Håvard Nordtveit caught Son after an unnecessary sliding challenge inside the penalty area and which brought Son down. This was a clear decision and you cannot disagree with Dean here, no matter how frustrating. Nordtveit’s didn’t make contact with Son on his initial challenge but this trailing leg caught Son. Dean has been consistent with this type of foul, of which he cautioned Rose for earlier in the second half. Nordtveit went to ground and he gave Dean a decision to make.

In the dying minutes of the match, Mike Dean sent off Winston Reid for a second yellow card. Reid was cautioned in the 93rd minute after a poor challenge on Son and three minutes later fouled Harry Kane and Dean gave him his marching orders.

I thought that Mike Dean had a good game, and to be frank there were only one or two decisions that I didn’t agree with, one of which was the handball from Vincent Janssen before the Spurs goal in the second half. The two penalties that Dean awarded I felt were correct and you cannot disagree with his decision making in this fixture. After going ahead twice in a London derby and being 1-2 in the final 5 minutes of the game to then lose 3-2 is sickening. Right up to 80 minutes, West Ham were so drilled and defended exceptionally well, however the last 10 minutes were a calamity and we lost our heads. Reid will now miss the Manchester United game following his sending off. We need to take the positives away from the game and approach the next couple of tough games in the right way.