What was a fantastic weekend for Merseyside, with both sides maintaining their charges at the top of end of the table, threatens to be overshadowed today by the decisions of one man; Anthony Taylor. I am going to attempt to defend his decision making on both incidents and highlight how inane and ill-informed punditry doesn’t help referees.
The first contentious decision was fairly clear, Andy Carroll absolutely ‘clattered’ Simon Mignolet, with a challenge that the late great Nat Lofthouse would have been proud, first palming the Liverpool stopper in the face and then almost slapping the ball out of his hand. In the melee that followed it is difficult to ascertain the exactly what happened, although the safe assumption would be that Mr Taylor thought that he had a clear view of the incident himself and therefore had no reason to believe the assistants view over his own. Ultimately we know he got it wrong but you can’t blame the referee for backing his own judgement if he believed that he had seen it clearly.
The second contentious decision settled the match and resulted in a second penalty for Liverpool and is more complicated but I think Anthony Taylor got this decision spot on.
The first thing we have to dismiss is the something that seeps through the pores and veins of football, oft repeated by pundits and ex-pro’s alike and that is the ‘he got the ball first’ fallacy. Students of the game and anoraks alike, will know that Law 12 of the laws of the game pertains to fouls and misconduct. Nowhere within this law does it either imply or explicitly state that getting the ball first means that the challenge is fair, other factors must also be considered. This is crucial on the 2nd penalty incident in which there are three key phases.
The first phase is that John Flanagan gets to the ball and potentially nudges it beyond the keeper, the touch is subtle enough to say that John Flanagan is still in control of the football, he doesn’t for example take a heavy touch and then fling himself to the ground. This takes us onto the intervention by Adrian, he commits to the challenge, goes to ground and gets a touch on the ball, however the touch he gets is not significant enough to either change the direction of the ball or dispossess Flanagan. This means that Flanagan is still in possession of the football, to illustrate this Flanagan gets another touch on the ball after the keepers’ intervention. Having established that the touch from Adrian has not dispossessed Flanagan and that the ball is within playing distance of we must look at the consequences of the contact from the Goalkeeper on the attacker. It is clear from the replays that Adrian grabs Flanagan’s leg and brings him down thus preventing him from continuing on with the ball.
So yes, Adrian touches the ball but the touch he gets does not dispossess Flanagan meaning that the crucial element of this incident is the contact afterwards and ultimately the keepers’ challenge prevents the Liverpool man playing on, therefore Anthony Taylor was correct in awarding the title challengers a second penalty.