Written by @SamRoyden
After a hard point away to Watford, we welcomed Chelsea who were 7 points clear of the Premier League before kick off. The West London rivals seem to be unstoppable so far this season but a visit to the London Stadium shouldn’t be a walk in the park. West Ham beat Chelsea in the League Cup at the London Stadium back in October last year when crowd trouble dominated the headlines. The referee appointed for this London derby was Andre Marriner. The last game Marriner officiated West Ham was in a convincing away win away at Swansea.
An incident free half for Andre Marriner and officiated well with common sense and control. Marriner had to deal with two early fouls on Eden Hazard, who is the most fouled player in the league. Nothing more than a foul and a free kick against both Kouyaté and Obiang. Even though the first half was too aggressive, Marriner officiated sensibly and not branded out his yellow cards unnecessarily.
As good as he is, Cheikhou Kouyaté can be clumsy at times and especially with his tackling when he is under pressure. Kouyaté was spoken to on a couple of occasions by Marriner and got a final warning in the 32rd minute after Marriner called over captain Mark Noble for his third foul of the game. Not every foul is deemed to be a yellow card, if the challenge is careless, with no attempt to hurt or injure the opponent, it’s simply just a foul and no action needs to be taken. A lot of elite referees rely on their cards to impose punishment to show control but I admire Marriner’s first half performance and his player management.
There was only one booking in the first half that came just before half time for Chelsea’s Cesc Fàbregas. The Chelsea man blocked Aaron Cresswell, who was steaming forward to an advance performance and this type of foul is always going to result in a yellow card.
I felt that Andre Marriner was nearly faultless throughout the game. Marriner did exactly what I would expect of a referee of a Premier League calibre to do and allowed play to flow, played advantage well and stepped in where he needed too.
Marriner had a big call to make in the second half when he had to determine whether there was a deliberate handball inside Chelsea’s penalty area by Cesc Fàbregas. Even though Fabregas’ arm was by his side when the ball hit him, it appeared Fabregas made an obvious movement with his arm towards the ball. Marriner was in a good position to see whether the ball hit his shoulder or lower arm. Marriner waved away appeals from West Ham but if it was handball, it would be a penalty to West Ham and potentially his second booking of the game for Fabregas.
Overall, I had no complaints about Marriner’s performance. He’s one of the better referees in the league and officiating a London derby is always going to be difficult but he controlled the game brilliantly. It was evident that the game wasn’t ugly in terms of challenges or behaviour with only one yellow card during the game. It’s a shame that sloppy errors by West Ham lead to the two Chelsea goals for Hazard and Costa. Our next game is away to Bournemouth on Saturday and with teams winning below us, we need to reach that magic 40 points sooner rather than later.