x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Referee's calm highlight of weekend Premier League action

From the the cool headedness of ref Mike Dean to Tony Fernandes' choice of seat and Roberto Di Matteo's surprise promotion, Paul Radley goes over the Premier League weekend's Best & Worst.

Referee Mike Dean's cool demeanor in the Tyne and Wear derby earns him a call as one of the best decisions made on the week.
Referee Mike Dean's cool demeanor in the Tyne and Wear derby earns him a call as one of the best decisions made on the week.

Best decision - Mike Dean

There are plenty of reasons why Dean, the referee, might have opted not to give a penalty for Mike Williamson's sneaky pull on Michael Turner's shirt in Sunday's Tyne and Wear derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland.

Chief among them was the fact he was stood in front of a fevered Gallowgate End on derby day. It was never going to be the popular vote.

And then nobody else ever gives penalties for that sort of thing anyway, so why should he bother invoking the ire of the whole of Newcastle? And he could always claim he never saw it.

But, then, they are the rules, after all. Who decides which ones we should play by and which ones should routinely be ignored?

Dean was good on the rules in this game. Hands raised to strike an opponent: red card. Fouls in the box: penalties. No matter the colour of the shirt.

Even after he had blown the final whistle the official was still on the job and gave Lee Cattermole, the Sunderland captain, a straight red card for dissent.

Best owner - Tony Fernandes

When a chunky Cockney attempts to ingratiate himself to Newcastle United supporters by buying their club then sitting among them, it feels cheap, tawdry and wrong.

When a dinky Malaysian airline mogul invokes a similar PR stunt at his new plaything, Queens Park Rangers, it feels sweet and endearing.

Given that Fernandes now owns the ground and everything in it, he could have picked a better seat at Loftus Road than the one he had for the game against Everton.

There were advantages of being sat in the lower tier of The Loft, near the corner flag, though. The view may not have been a patch on that in the directors' box, but at least you can hurl abuse at the referee from close range.

Fernandes was baying for punishment when Royston Drenthe fouled Adel Taraabt just in front of him. He was like a kid at Christmas when Bobby Zamora scored not long after.

Newcastle's Mike Ashley should take note: that is the way to do it.

Now QPR's owner has his club's fans just where he wants them when he chooses to rename Loftus Road the Air Asia Arena.

Worst delusion - Bacary Sagna

The Arsenal right-back had given a passable impression of Alan Shearer when his thumping header started his side's revival in the north London derby the previous weekend.

However, that did not mean he had suddenly become the Premier League's most prolific striker reincarnate.

He seemed to think he was, though, when he lined up an ambitious shot from range in the first half against Liverpool at Anfield.

His side were shooting in the direction of The Kop.

His shot, admittedly with the left foot which he usually only uses for standing, ended up in the Centenary Stand.

He seemed sheepish after the woeful shank, but his shame turned to joy soon after when he landed a delicious assist on the head of Robin van Persie. He should stick to setting them up.

Best attempt - Darren Pratley

Opportunities were few and far between for Bolton Wanderers against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, but Pratley, their midfielder, at least managed one long-distance speculator.

The away side had barely had a kick of the ball in the second half against the Premier League leaders, before Pratley stealthily nipped in.

He dispossessed his opposite number and in one motion let fly with a 25-yard drive which clipped the crossbar, then bounced away to safety, with the goalkeeper well beaten.

It was just a pity it all happened at the wrong end of the field. Still, it would have made for a blinding own goal had it dipped under the bar.

Worst return - Roberto Di Matteo

Faithful No 2s rarely get much credit, but then it is not very often that they have to bear the full heat of the Premier League pressure cooker, either.

Di Matteo, the Chelsea assistant manager, might have suffered in the reflected glare of Andre Villas-Boas's misery at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Having been axed as West Bromwich Albion's manager last year, the Italian must have headed back to the Midlands thinking revenge was assured with his new, cash-rich employers.

Chelsea are always a shoo-in against the Baggies.

Not so, and perhaps it was the wrong assumption to make, given the recent form.

While West Brom's players were buzzing after wins against Sunderland and their local rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea's have seemingly been working on a plan to get rid their young Portuguese manager.

Finally, they succeeded.

"We got what we deserved," Villas-Boas said of Chelsea's trip to The Hawthorns. Namely him being dismissed Sunday - and a surprise promotion for Di Matteo.

pradley@thenational.ae