Written by @SamRoyden
Firstly, I’d to wish TheWestHamWay readers and West Ham fans a belated Merry Christmas and wish you all a very Happy New Year. The festive period has been pivotal for West Ham taking 10 points in 4 games and lifted us from 18th to 11th in the league. The referee appointed for this fixture was Anthony Taylor.
In a half that only had 7 fouls, Anthony Taylor seemed to be in control for the best part of the first half. Taylor was controversial-free, with a couple of fouls against Dimari Payet that Taylor was on top of but it was the last 10 minutes of the first half that were the busiest for Taylor.
Dimitri Payet and Riyad Mahrez were both fouled 30 seconds apart from each other but Taylor only gave one foul which went to West Ham. Riyad Mahrez was dispossessed on the half way line by Winston Reid, but I felt that the West Ham defender went through the back of Mahrez before winning the ball. Even though contact was minimal, I felt this was still a foul. The second foul, which Taylor did blow up for, was when West Ham was on the counter attack and Dimitri Payet was blocked off the ball by Leicester midfielder Daniel Amartey. This was an obvious foul and Payet was running off the ball into an advancing position before being blocked by Amartey.
Robert Huth was the first player cautioned in the first half after a poor challenge by the Leicester defender. Huth’s foot was high when he caught Payet, sliding into a 50/50 challenge. Taylor was in a great position to see the foul and took his time to evaluate the situation before blowing for a foul and issuing a yellow card for Huth. The second and final caution of the first half went to Angelo Obgonna. The West Ham defender brought down Demarai Grey 25 yards outside the West Ham goal and this type of cynical foul is always going to be a yellow card.
The second half was very feisty and a half that was extremely difficult for Anthony Taylor. Taylor is the most appointed referee this season and is a well equipped official but some strange decisions were made in the second half.
There could have been a red card within the first 2 minutes after the restart when Daniel Amartey made a very, very poor challenge on Mark Noble, with the Leicester man catching Noble high on his knee. In my opinion, his challenge was dangerous and could have significantly injured the West Ham captain, who was reluctantly substituted a short while later. This type of challenge is a use of excessive force and I felt that Amartey made no attempt to play the ball. This type of challenge is deemed a red card in the Laws of The Game.
Leicester and their fans were clearly getting angry in the second half with decisions going against them and particularly highlighting Angelo Obgonna and Håvard Nordtveit. Obgonna was cautioned in the first half for bring down Demarai Grey and the Leicester faithful thought that Obgonna should have seen a second yellow card when Islam Slimani went down outside the penalty area. He was not issued a second yellow and I think this was a good decision by Taylor as I felt that Ogbonna did enough to get between Slimani and the ball and made no attempt to foul the player but to win the ball.
A question that I keep getting asked is ‘When a player is on a yellow card, why is their next foul not a second yellow card and a red card’. When I first qualified as a referee, I was taught to review each foul in isolation. As a referee, you analyse a foul taking into consideration these three key factors. Was the foul careless, reckless or a use of excessive force? Each of those factors have an instant action by a referee. If the foul is careless, the referee will blow for a foul and no other action is needed. If the foul is reckless, the referee will issue a yellow card and if the player is using excessive force, the referee should issue a red card. In this particular game, Obgonna did foul two or three times after his yellow card but when you look at them in isolation, they were careless fouls and didn’t not warrant a second yellow card. If the referee felt Ogbonna was persistently infringing on the Laws of the Game, then the referee would have issued a second yellow card.
Earlier in the game, I felt that Daniel Amartey was lucky to stay on the pitch, but in my opinion I felt that Håvard Nordtveit was also a very lucky boy. Nordtveit’s challenge was very poor. Both players went to challenge the ball with both of their feet raised and they both missed the ball, but Nordtveit caught Ben Chilwell high in the chest. Anthony Taylor deemed the challenge as reckless and not a use of excessive force, which meant only a caution for the West Ham player. The only reason why I think Taylor didn’t issue Nordtveit a red card was due to both players going for ball with high boots. But regardless of that, it was a poor challenge and could have been a red card. After the challenge, Kasper Schmeichel was cautioned for dissent after running 50 yards to the half way line towards the referee.
I felt that Anthony Taylor handled the game well in the first half. Taylor could have issued at least 2 red cards after a couple of very poor challenges in the second half. Taylor issued a total of 8 yellow cards during the game, which is his highest tally so far this season in a single game. As the game went on, I felt that Taylor was starting to struggle to keep up after a handful of challenges were missed.
A note on West Ham; apart from Swansea, I feel we’ve been lucky with the results in the Burnley & Hull matches, and if we didn’t get these results, we would currently be in a horrific position going into 2017. I feel the team haven’t been the same this season with players not pulling their weight. In my opinion, Payet isn’t performing nowhere near like last season and he was at fault for the Leicester goal. He has been poor defensively this season and has not been tracking back which leaves too many free players for Cresswell to pick up. With players like Cheikhou Kouyaté and Andre Ayew going to the African Cup of Nations, we need to boost the team in the January window and thankfully our league position is a lot more positive than it was originally looking to be. Our first game of 2017 is at home to Manchester United which is being shown on Sky Sports.
Since joining TheWestHamWay it’s been a pleasure to write for them and giving my opinion on referee performances, using my knowledge of the Laws of The Game to give more of a understanding on decisions from a referee’s prospective. Refereeing isn’t easy and having to make the correct decision within a slit second can be difficult. We’ve seen vast improvements since last season which is promising with new laws introduced in 2016 to aid referees and assistant referees, it’s great to see refereeing going in the right direction. I’d like to personally thanks Ex, who brought me into the TheWestHamWay team this year and to all of you have read my articles this season. Please continue to join the conversation on Twitter, any questions you do have, feel free to tweet me @SamRoyden. From all of us at TheWestHamWay, we’d like to with you and your families a very happy and healthy 2017.