All Eyes on the Men in the Middle
Referees take centre stage
Referees have been very much in the spotlight over the last few days. Events started to unfold last week, when it emerged that Kevin Friend had been taken off tonight’s Stoke City versus Tottenham Hotspur clash due to his allegiances with Leicester City. With the Foxes in pursuit of their first ever title, Friend, who lives in Leicester and is a life-long fan of the club, will now not officiate the game at the Britannia Stadium, with Neil Swarbrick getting the gig instead.
However, the fun and games didn’t stop there. Jonathan Moss took charge of Leicester City’s clash with West Ham United at the Kingpower Stadium, with the home side looking to open up a ten point gap at the top of the table. The Sunderland-born official put in a quite memorable performance. Not content with dishing out six yellow cards, including a second to Jamie Vardy, Moss also awarded two highly controversial penalties.
Winston Reid was the top-rated player on WhoScored in a game that ebbed and flowed, but if they rated refereeing performances, what sort of rating Moss would have earned for his day’s work is anybody’s guess!
The result could have serious implications on the title race and also would have had a huge bearing on fantasy football contests over the weekend. Vardy, who is always a popular choice, had opened the scoring and was on course for another terrific points haul. However, after picking up an earlier yellow card, he was given a second one and shown his marching orders, after harshly being adjudged to have dived. In the second half Moss awarded a very soft penalty to the Hammers, after some jostling in the box, with Wes Morgan accused of fouling Winston Reid. The in-form Andy Carroll made no mistake from the spot, a welcome bonus for any fantasy mangers who had included him. West Ham then went on to take the lead, after two players we highlighted in The much maligned 3-man defence combined to good effect, with Aaron Cresswell hitting a superb finish following some fine work down the right flank by Mikhail Antonio.
However, there was one final twist in the tale, as, deep into stoppage time, Moss awarded his second penalty of the day, penalising the aforementioned Carroll for a foul on Jeffrey Schlupp. Talk about evening things up, Leonardo Ulloa converted the resulting spot-kick and it might yet prove to be a priceless point for the Foxes.
The result means that Spurs can close the gap at the top tonight to just five points so there’s no better time to get involved in single-match fantasy football. FanTeam , who offer a 200% deposit bonus to new users, have a number of 5 a-side contests available on the fixture. You are given a $50M budget from which to select your team (5 players plus one substitute) and you must nominate a captain and vice-captain.
Stoke City have defensive worries at left-back, so Erik Lamela, who excelled against Manchester United last week gets our arm-band. Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur’s penalty kick taker, is also included.
With referees very much in the spotlight don’t be too surprised if Swarbrick makes a controversial call that decides the match!