So much of the focus on a controversial call Saturday at the Emirates – indeed one that could shape the ongoing fortunes of two clubs – was about the wrong element of this big EPL moment.
The voices of TV land seemed obsessed with which official made the big call Saturday. Norwich City’s Kei Kamara grabbed a handful of Olivier Giroud’s jersey. Referee Mike Dean was nearby but appeared content allowing play to move on. Controversy raged when the referee’s assistant, standing further away, raised a flag that would change the match – and those fortunes, potentially.
It was a huge contest for both sides. Arsenal is desperate to hold its current spot in the table and get back into Champions League. Norwich is out of drop zone danger for now, but the relegation reaper follows a bit too close for comfort at present. The visitors were ahead, 1-0, at the time, and three points for Norwich in North London would have been immense in keeping the Canaries in EPL survival grace.
But Dean’s whistle blew. Mikel Arteta converted the pressure shot and Arsenal went on to bury a frustrated and distracted bunch, 3-1.
So, back to Dean’s decision:
Many words were said about the referee’s assistant essentially making this call. It was a bit unusual, so that element surely deserves mention. (Although the way I see the angles and sight lines at work, the referee’s assistant did have a better vantage point to see the actual infraction.)
It’s hardly unprecedented for an RA to wave his flag when spotting a law violation inside the 18. Either way, was it the correct call or not? That’s what everyone should be talking about.
Kamara absolutely had a big handful of Arsenal jersey. Did he impede a shooting opportunity for Giroud? You could probably make a case either way. The huge former Sporting KC man did pull Giroud to the ground, no doubt about it.
It was the right call. It wasn’t the clearest penalty kick ever – but it was the correct call.
For all we know, the referee was pondering the decision, rapidly, in real time, and spotting a raised flag confirmed it in his mind.
If you disagree, fine. But can we agree to disagree about the right thing, at least? Who made the decision is less relevant. We should just be talking about getting the calls right.