Ex-referee Dermot Gallagher analyses the key incidents from the festive fixtures at the turn of the year including the big decisions form the Old Firm game and Premier League matches including Fulham vs Arsenal, Aston Villa against Burnley, Luton vs Chelsea and Crystal Palace vs Brentford
Ref Watch’s Dermot Gallagher has his say on the controversial decision to deny Rangers a penalty in Saturday’s Old Firm game
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from the festive football, including from the Old Firm game and incidents from Fulham’s victory against Arsenal, Luton’s win over Chelsea and Burnley’s loss at Aston Villa.
INCIDENT: Handball was not given against Celtic’s Alistair Johnston at the end of the first half against Rangers. The incident was cleared up by an offside in the build up but the explanation didn’t come until the second half.
DERMOT SAYS: “I think there are a few issues. I think Alistair Johnston rode his luck on Saturday, because he was fortunate not to give away a penalty there and he could have easily been sent off later in the game.
“This incident was checked for a penalty, but the VAR felt it wasn’t a penalty, therefore, a goal kick was given. People said later they found an offside, but don’t forget if a penalty had been given the next check would have been the attacking phase, and once they checked that they would have seen the offside.
“So, although the penalty would have been given [on the pitch] it would have been disallowed because the offside came first. It doesn’t matter when it came to light, because it would have come to light once the penalty had been given.
“I don’t know the protocol [when it comes to whether or not Rangers should be given the chance to review the audio from the VAR after the club requested it].”
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JAY BOTHROYD SAYS: “I don’t think that was a penalty, I think you have to take it into context. He’s battling with the defender, he’s trying to hold him off, they’ve gone shoulder-to-shoulder and he hasn’t intentionally hit the ball away.
“It’s just happened as he is trying to protect the ball away from the forward. I don’t think it’s handball. I think if you give handballs like that, you’ll be giving loads in every single game.”
Highlights from the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers
INCIDENT: Paulo Bernardo escaped a potential second yellow card for a challenge made on Connor Goldson.
DERMOT SAYS: “Not every foul is a yellow card. I think it’s a foul, but it’s far from the worst foul in the world and they go in together. Is it a yellow card to send a player off? I would certainly say no.”
INCIDENT: Leon Balogun was a shown a straight red card for bringing down Daizen Maeda who was bearing down on goal.
DERMOT SAYS: “I think he would just say he has taken one for the team. Once the ball has got away he’s got to stop him hasn’t he? But once he’s by him, you can’t bring him down [and expect to stay on the pitch]. It’s got to be a red card.”
Rangers defender Leon Balogun was shown a straight red card for a professional foul on Daizen Maeda
INCIDENT: A second yellow card for Sander Berge for pulling back Douglas Luiz in Burnley’s game against Aston Villa.
DERMOT SAYS: “When you see the first clip, you wonder whether it is enough for a second yellow card, but when you see it sideways on like Stuart Attwell saw it, you could see he had clearly pulled him back and stopped a promising attack.
“As we have seen many times in the Premier League, with any challenge like that, 95 times out of 100 it is a yellow card.”
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s win against Burnley in the Premier League
INCIDENT: A potential handball against Aston Villa defender Diego Carlos that wasn’t given, with Burnley striker Lyle Foster breathing down his neck.
DERMOT SAYS: “I think the full-back tries to get the ball back to the goalkeeper with his thigh, he doesnt catch it as he wants and then he almost panics and punches the ball away. It’s outside of the penalty area, so it can’t be a penalty.
“It’s not a red card for me, because the forward is not in possession of the ball, which is the first criteria, so the VAR is powerless. He can’t do anything.
“The referee is the only one who can make a decision and he decides it’s not handball, so he gives the goal kick – I think, best option, free-kick and a yellow card for the defender for handling the ball deliberately and Burnley restart with a free-kick.”
Gallagher and Jay Bothroyd look at three penalty calls from the weekend’s Premier League fixtures at Aston Villa, Brentford and Fulham
INCIDENTS: Aston Villa’s Jhon Dhuran winning a penalty after beng caught in the area by Jacob Ramsey, Brentford defender Zanka not being penalised for catching Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew, and William Saliba who was not adjudged to have fouled Fulham’s Bobby De Cordova-Reid in the penalty area.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Fulham’s win against Arsenal in the Premier League
DERMOT SAYS: “It’s all about the referee’s decision on-field, because I don’t think the VAR can get involved in any of them. One’s a penalty and two are not. With referees, everyone’s tolerance level is slightly different.”
BOTHROYD SAYS: “I look at all of them and I say penalty. I think it is very good play from the forwards. The defenders can’t see what is behind them.
“They are penalties, they are playing for it but it is good play from the forwards, that’s poor play from the defenders so for me they are penalties.”
Image: Bukayo Saka scored the opening goal early in the first half
INCIDENT: Bukayo Saka’s early goal against Fulham which had a suspicion of offside.
DERMOT SAYS: “Nick Greenhalgh [assistant referee], I take my cap off to him, because when it went in I thought, ‘how has he not given this offside?’
“But when you look sideways on, he is onside and then you see the assistant straightaway signal goal.
“It was just an amazing decision, with the naked eye at speed it was an amazing decision.”
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Luton and Chelsea
INCIDENT: Luton’s Jacob Brown escaping punishment for a challenge on Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher despite a VAR check.
DERMOT SAYS: “It’s just a coming together. It’s a physical game. That’s the great thing about the Premier League. It’s just part and parcel of the game.”
BOTHROYD SAYS: “I think that’s definitely not a red card. It looks terrible when you slow it down. He tried to cross the ball and he’s followed through. I just think it’s an unfortunate clash there.”