Red Card or Not: Michael Oliver v. Tottenham

Dear me, Michael Oliver. Dear me.

Now, let me say that I watched this game at a local pub with friends. (Why, yes, we were drinking at 9:30am California time. And?) And Tottenham were absolutely wretched in the second half, even before the red card. Jan Vertonghen’s slipping on the pitch then recovering by basically passing the ball to Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o –  who slotted it into goal – was, to quote my friend Andrew, “classic Spurs.”

And not in a good way.

But let me tell you, Mr. Oliver did not exactly cover himself in glory on the day.

There were actually two red card calls, and he bottled them both. Let’s start this week’s version of Red Card or Not with the red card that wasn’t.

Minute 2 (yes, 2): Eto’o receives a sweet ball from Eden Hazard and slices the Spurs defense to ribbons. He’s clear on goal when crazy-ass Hugo Lloris comes out and clobbers him. As he does.

Last man? Check. Clear goalscoring opportunity? Check. Red card?


According to Oliver and his linesmen (the dreamy – and feisty – John Brooks and Andy Garratt, who confusingly resembles fourth official Lee Probert), Eto’o was offside, so none of that unpleasantness actually happened.

Except he wasn’t and it did.

Red card or not? Red Card (Not given)

Minute 59: Eto’o is in the box, with Younes Kaboul behind. (Hi, Younes! Welcome back!) Eto’o – who didn’t even have control of the ball – just basically collapsed to his knees. Replays showed Kaboul really didn’t even touch him. I couldn’t find a good video that showed any sort of contact whatsoever, but my friend Andrew said in one of the replays, Kaboul kind of raised his hand. That’s all we got.

What the replays do show is that Kaboul wasn’t even the last man. There was at least one defender (Dawson, I think) between Eto’o and Lloris. And I think Naughton may have been in there, too.

I’m usually pro-referee, but I’ve looked at this a dozen times and just can’t see it as a sending off. In fact, as I mentioned, I was in a pub with mostly Chelsea fans, and when he showed the red card it was so bizarre that no one even understood what it was for. When they showed the replay, even the Chelsea fans scoffed.

So, that begs the question, did Michael Oliver go in at half-time, see his mistake on the earlier card, and “make up” for it with this one? I don’t know. I don’t really believe guys do that. He just had a horrible game.

He can go hang out with Jan Vertonghen and cry over a Trappist beer.

Red card or not? Not (Given)

Update, March 11: Tottenham’s appeal of Kaboul’s dismissal has been upheld, and his suspension overturned.


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