Wednesday, 29 October 2014

SHOCKER! Refereeing decision again inspires Swansea defeat

Late drama at Anfield once again has Swansea counting the cost of poor officiating

Emnes celebrates after opening the scoring for the Swans

Garry Monk must be wondering just what transgressions we committed in past lives, that we are continually blighted by absolutely astounding refereeing decisions. Sadly, yet another match involving the Swans was marred by a shockingly bad call from the man with the whistle, but in the interests of not just having a rant I'll talk about the game first before coming back to the late drama.

The team we put out, I thought, was always going to struggle to retain possession. A midfield of Jonjo, Jay Fulton & Marvin Emnes simply didn't retain possession in the first half - though I thought Shelvey in particular was excellent. He kept it simple and will have impressed a lot of Liverpool fans last night. That said we were poor in the first period, and it was amazing that we got into halftime level. Time and again we gave away possession, and it was obvious a change was needed - Emnes wasn't holding his position at the head of the midfield and as such, we kept being overrun in midfield, or finding ourselves with nothing but the long hoof downfield to rely on. Very un-Swansea. 

As mentioned though we somehow got in level at the break, and in the second half it was very much a different story. Emnes held his position at the head of the midfield much better, and this allowed us to go through the gears in midfield, retaining possession and building attacks. It was much more even after the break, and when Emnes opened the scoring I don't think there would have been too many complaints from Liverpool - other than that they hadn't capitalised on their first-half dominance - as we had been coming into the game more and more.

And what a goal it was. A cheeky lobbed pass over the defence from Neil Taylor fell over Emnes' right shoulder across his body, and he met it on the volley with his left, spanking a finish across Brad Jones and into the Liverpool goal. Marvelous Marvin Emnes. After our goal we even pressed for a second, Bony coming on for the sadly ineffectual Bafetimbi Gomis, but it wasn't to be. This most definitely would not be Swansea's night. 

Five minutes from time Mario Balotelli - on as a 78th minute sub for Rickie Lambert - met a great Fabio Borini cross and steered his header into the corner of Gerhard Tremmel's net. It was understandably met with jubilation from the Liverpool crowd, but the drama was far from over. And this is the point where it's going to become hard to not write angrily about the remainder of the match. 

With ninety minutes on the clock, and the game seemingly set for extra time, Federico Fernandez was sent off for this challenge:

Now, I know it's not the best footage so here's a still of the moment before impact. 

In my opinion it's not even a foul. Coutinho overran the ball and Fernandez got there first. It's a full-blooded challenge but what's he supposed to do there to make his challenge any more safe? The crowd reacted angrily to the tackle and I firmly believe that's what got Fernandez sent off . 

That's not the crowd or Liverpool's fault, but the referee's fault for allowing himself to be influenced by the atmosphere and the occasion. We saw the same with Victor Moses' penalty - Fernandez had made a big (perfect) tackle moments before so when Moses went down the crowd were incensed. Both incidents resulted in decisions being made which drastically altered the outcome of the match. 

What the sending off didn't effect though, was Gerhard Tremmel's judgement. Or maybe it did. But it shouldn't have. Whatever the reasoning, in the 94th minute Tremmel came to claim a free-kick he never looked like getting near, and Dejan Lovren was at the back post to steer the ball into an empty net. A dramatic victory for Liverpool, but for any Swansea fans who'd paid to make the trip to Anfield that goal must have been a real kick in the teeth. It's hard to see how the red card wasn't a turning point which gave Liverpool more impetus to push for a winner, but sadly the goal which won it for the Reds was easily avoidable. We can't complain about the goal, but we can justifiably feel very disappointed - again - about the standard of officiating.

One more thing I'll mention, because all of the "Mario Balotelli inspires Liverpool to win" headlines are winding me up right now, is Balotelli trying to get a reaction out of Jonjo Shelvey. Have a look at this:

I think Balotelli has tried to get Jonjo Shelvey sent off there, and not since Steven Taylor's epic Platoon-esque goal-line dramatics for Newcastle have I seen a better reaction to supposed contact. Jonjo did very well - given his tendencies to display a short temper - to not react, and Balotelli needs to take a look at himself. There's a reason people are getting fed up of him, and it's not particularly to do with his ability as a footballer. 

And so we move on. Monk is meeting referee's boss Mike Riley on Friday to discuss decisions which he feels have gone against us so far this season, though what we'll achieve from this I don't know. The sooner technology exists for aiding referees decisions in real-time the better, as until then referees will continue to be swayed by all manner of distractions which shouldn't ever come into the equation. We've got another trip to Merseyside this weekend as we travel to Everton, and with Bony & Sigurdsson back in the team we've plenty of reasons to be hopeful of a positive result.

Plus, statistically speaking, we're due a couple of favourable refereeing decisions...