Is the call needed ever more so for video replays??
During the Arsenal v Bolton game, Jose Antonio Reyes went down in the box after Tal Ben Haim came in with a tackle. A penalty appeal was denied, replays showed Reyes had dived or made more of the tackle than it actually was. Replays also showed Ben Haim hadn't touched Reyes. The official didn't book Reyes.
Abdoulaye Faye came in later on with an unbelievably reckless two-footed lunge on Reyes, catching the ball and then the Spaniard, presumably on the foot. Reyes is suspected of having a broken leg but nothing has yet been confirmed, I suspect it could be a stress fracture, a broken metatarsal or severe bruising needing maybe a fortnight's rest. After that, Mathieu Flamini lost control of the ball and then ran on to desperately make amends for it, lunging in with a two-footed tackle that was worse than Faye's, but not much. Faye was booked for his, Flamini, for some bewildering reason, escaped any caution.
Jens Lehmann came out of goal to deal with the ball and then noticed Kevin Davies closing him down, waited for the tackle to come in, jumped in the air and came down rolling over as if hurt by the tackle, only to took up at the referee, seeing that the decision had gone against Arsenal and then recovered instantly to run back towards his goal. This was picked up on replay.
In the Middlesbrough v Chelsea game, when Fabio Rochemback challenged Michael Essien from behind, Rochemback got a touch on the ball, Essien had gone down and rolled as if hit badly by Rochemback, looked up to see play continuing and then got up quickly, but by then Rochemback went on to score.
It's obviously not exclusive to these teams, certainly prevalent throughout the league. The issue of players potentially feigning the impact of a tackle or contact put on them by another has arisen again from the Arjen Robben - Pepe Reina incident last week. Condemnation of players feigning such contact has been made, calls said for the FA to add on it but I sense this issue will fizzle away without so much as a grunt from the FA in response. We all agree it should not be happening in the game, and can only account for our own league, so saying it is OK beyond the realms of the Premiership and the respective football associations haven't done anything about it is not relevant. When a player gains an advantage through feigning, that's unfair. The competitiveness of the game ensures that effort and guile makes more for a team than dishonour.
Rafael Benitez is stated in the Mail on Sunday "Every team decides how they want to win. I like to win playing well and within the rules. Some teams like to win at any cost. I have told my players to stay on their feet. I don't like to see them diving."
Then there is the current offside rule. It isn't an offence to be in an offside position, where an attacking player is between the last defending outfield player nearest the defending goal and the keeper in that goal. We know an attacking player needs to be level with that last defending outfield player, in that outfield player's half, when the ball is passed, to avoid violating the law. Even then, that attacking player has to be, at the time the ball is played, otherwise involved actively by either interfering with play, an opponent or gaining an advantage from an offside position. Yet the linesmen flag instantly when a ball is played and a player moves. Having not interfered with play nor an opponent, the attacking player is therefore gaining an advantage, which I disagree with since he has not attained the ball.
If the attacking player stays in an offside position, the ball is played to him and passes him, the defending players decide not to react as he cannot touch the ball, and the attacking player's team-mate run up unnoticed and collect the goal towards goal, then the first attacking player in that offside position has gained an advantage. Do we then need to establish whether that advantage has to be for the attacking player or for another? I would say no, its irrelevant, any advantage gained is for the team, and that makes for an offside decision.
Interfering with an opponent, obviously a defending one in the circumstance, is one situation that either belongs with interfering with play or gaining an advantage. Being in an offside position, the attacking player could then outmuscle a defending opponent (therefore potentially interfering with play) for his advantage or the advantage of another (gaining an advantage).
There had been a few offside decisions over the weekend in the Premiership that were found to be incorrect, upon reflection of the law. Linesmen flag before the ball is being touched, the ball going away from an offside player and instead being controlled by another who is onside. Today in the Sunderland v Spurs match in the 2nd half, Kevin Kyle was in an offside position and the pass went over him, the ball touched by no one other than Julio Arca, yet offside was given. In the West Ham v Sunderland game, Marlon Harewood was on the right and was onside when passed to, replays showed it clear enough to be picked up at pitchside, yet he was given offside. Despite the change in the law, officials are not getting their decisions as accurately as they should do.
Pulling of shirts in the box during corners, freekicks, handball offences said to occur when the ball travels to hand, regardless of the lack of intention, when in fact the law should distinguish between deliberate handball and ball-to-hand, and maybe introduce a strict liability element where a defending player drops down doing a tackle, misses the ball and then the flailing arm comes across as if a natural response of the body going down. Given the above circumstances in the game, while I am not an avid fan of the idea, video replays instantly reviewed after an incident could help clear up any doubt as to fouls, handballs, shirt pulling, offsides or any other dubious decisions that the main official is in doubt about. It is not a favourable call for such incidents to continue and the FA should step in as administrative authority to put measures in place to reduce such incidents occurring without adjudication at the time.