Referee watch: Arsenal vs. Manchester United


Contribution by Matthew Campbell

This was a must win game for both sides as a victory for Arsenal would blow the title race wide open, whereas three points for Manchester United would all but secure them the Premier League title.

Chris Foy was the man in black, well the man in blue for this game as United were wearing their black away kit.

Foy is usually a good safe pair of hands.  He goes about his business with little fuss and isn’t afraid to make big, bold decisions.  I say usually because I thought his decision making when it came to the big calls in this game was very poor.

It started very early on when Foy failed to award a stonewall penalty to Arsenal after Nemanja Vidic handled a cross that was destined for the head of Robin Van Persie for an easy header to make it 1-0.

Perhaps Foy’s assistant Andy Garratt on the near side had the better view, so maybe it was his decision to make but no matter whose decision it was, The Gunners should have had a penalty and thus played the rest of the match against 10 men as Vidic would have had to have been sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Foy was asked to make another penalty decision this time in the second half when there was another handball incident in and around the penalty area.

Aaron Ramsey, who scored Arsenal’s opening goal, handled the ball as Arsenal tried to clear it away from their penalty area.  Foy gave a free kick when United appealed for a penalty.

In real time I wasn’t sure whether the young Welshman was inside or outside the area when he handled, but having seen the replay I think Ramsey was outside and therefore the referee was right to award a free kick rather than a penalty.

Then in the dying minutes of the match, with Arsenal leading 1-0, Foy was asked to make a third penalty decision and this one he got horribly wrong as well.

Michael Owen did well to turn Gael Clichy only to have the French defender put his studs in the back of his knee.  It was a horrible challenge and one which should have resulted in a penalty.

Sir Alex was apoplectic on the touchline and rightly so as his side should have been given a chance to equalise from 12 yards.

I can’t disagree with any of the yellow cars, except for the one given to Song as I felt the blonde haired midfielder got enough on the ball to warrant not even a foul being given, never mind a yellow card.

Overall I thought Foy did the simple things well, as his foul detection in the middle of the park was good, however he let himself down majorly with the big decisions and I think when he watches the DVD back of the game, he will be very disappointed in his own performance.

My Rating: 4/10

He got too many match changing decisions wrong.  Had good fitness and tried to let the game flow by not giving needless free kicks; however those penalty decisions let him down.

Looking Ahead

After a midweek Champions League semi final second leg with Schalke which Man United should get through comfortably taking a 2-0 away goal lead into the second leg at Old Trafford, its Chelsea next in the Premier League and this could be the biggest meeting between the two in Premier League history.

Having beaten Tottenham in controversial circumstances, Carlo Ancelotti’s side are only three points behind the league leaders, and victory at Old Trafford would take the title race down to the final two games.

Whereas victory for United would put them six points clear with two games to play, which would mean the best Chelsea could hope for is that they beat United on goal difference.

The reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge was a feisty, controversial affair and because of this I think there are only two men who could take charge of a game of this magnitude, either Howard Webb or Mike Dean.

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  1. Avatar

    I pretty much agree with your post.
    I do think United should feel lucky Vidic wasnt spotted, he would have been a major miss for next weekend!
    Agree about both decisions though, they were both penalties.
    Im biased I know, but I do believe Arsenal played better and more positively, thus deserving the 3 points.
    I wonder if there will be controversy in the United – Chelsea match next week? I have a feeling there might!

  2. Avatar

    I doubt United fans will agree, but I thought the ref was very kind to United, they were given freekick after free kick and Arsenal players were penalised for perfectly good challenges. And the Vidic handball was just typical of the luck you lot get! And Fergie STILL had the cheek to have a go at the officals!!??

  3. Avatar

    Owen was offside when Clichy tackled him, so the penalty shouldn’t have been given. Also the way Foy got hit by the ball, and also tackled Van persie in the first half was really bad. 2nd half was good from the match official, even thou when he didn’t give the offside, he prob. should have given the penalty.

  4. Avatar

    OK, he also gave Fabio a yellow for his shoulder charge and failed to do the same when Arsenil committed the same offense.

    And you forgot to mention Evra being dragged to the floor in the box while having his arm neatly tucked under an Arsenil armpit.

    I’d like to see Howard Webb too. He’s reasonably impartial and does like a free flowing match.

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