Thoughts on the Premier League Referees, Matchweek 4: Clattenburg, Pawson and Mason.

Here are some thoughts I had watching a few of today’s Premier League referees in action. These are just my general impressions; they’re not scientific, and I don’t try and nitpick every single decision.

But, as always, if you saw something I didn’t, let us know in comments below.

Mark Clattenburg, Arsenal v. Manchester City
Clatts was in rare form in this game, communicating animatedly with the players all game and playing advantage the way only he can. His speed and fitness continue to impress.

He kept the match – which ended in a 2-2 draw – entertaining. That wasn’t good enough for Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, though. Pellegrini complained that mistakes by Clattenburg and his team led to the draw.

It should be noted, however, that Pellegrini is well known for blaming the referee when his team plays poorly (including his famously bizarre rant when City blew their Champions League last year, claiming that Sweden was to blame). He’s also attacked Clattenburg before, when his team lost to Liverpool last season.

He even claimed he had to substitute Sergio Aguero because the striker was so furious with Clattenburg, that he was afraid the special little snowflake would be tossed out because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

While I can’t tell you how close to fed up with Aguero Clattenburg really was (probably close), he was not responsible for the scoreline.

There was definitely pushing and shoving at midfield on Arsenal’s first goal, but it wasn’t Clattenburg’s fault that Arsenal shredded City’s defense and Wilshere embarrassed City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The second Arsenal goal, as well, was clean from a refereeing perspective.

As for the supposed Wilshere handball penalty claim: Give me a fucking break.

The ball bounced off the City player (and it actually came off his arm!), and hit Wilshere’s arm, which he had tucked into his chest. He was even turning away to try and avoid it, which he realistically couldn’t.

No decent referee on the planet is going to give that.

Basically, having seen the game and read Pellegrini’s comments, I can safely say that Clatts did fine and Pellegrini is full of rubbish.

Craig Pawson, Sunderland v. Tottenham
I actually thought Pawson did a decent job here. He was lenient, and let a lot of things go. But, despite the Sunderland supporters feeling hard done by, he was pretty consistently lenient.

Even so, he kept a lid on the game and it never seemed close to getting out of his control. He also had to deal with Seb Larsson, who’s just an ass and is constantly in the referees’ faces, telling them how to do their job.

One thing he and his team did miss – though, as a Spurs supporter, I don’t mind so much – were two dives by Tottenham: one by Erik Lamela and a blatant one toward the end of the game by Danny Rose. (Shame, Danny. Shame.)

You do have to wonder if it were Ashley Young and not Danny Rose, what would have happened…

But overall, I’d say Pawson did well.

Lee Mason, Liverpool v. Aston Villa
I think it’s safe to say that Brendan Rodgers is not a Lee Mason fan.

Rodgers complained last Boxing Day that Mason had been assigned to their match against Manchester City (since he’s from “Greater Manchester”) and now he presided over their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Anfield.

I’m not the biggest Mason fan myself – I don’t think he’s one of Premier League’s stronger refs – but he wasn’t terrible today.

At minute 62, Villa’s Alan Hutton took out Raheem Sterling, who had just came out and was knocked spectacularly out of the air by Hutton’s lunging challenge.

Liverpool’s fans freaked the heck out when Mason only pulled a yellow from his pocket, but I think it – and the free kick in a good position – was the right call. It was a hard challenge and late, and Hutton knew it. But Sterling’s fall (not exaggerated) really made it look worse than it was.

He gave a couple of other yellow cards for hard challenges (including one at minute 13 to Adam Lallana), all difficult to argue.

Tempers did flare in this match – especially when Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren took out Villa’s American goalkeeper Brad Guzan – and Mason didn’t do much about it. It was a contentious game and he seemed fine with that.

Don’t agree with me? Tell us below!

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