English referees being awful is not exactly breaking news.
VAR was supposed to make on-field decisions more consistent, but all they have done is add further decision makers which leads to even more inconsistencies.
Now we did not fail to score against Newcastle United due to the referee. The 0-0 was because they defended gallantly with 11 men behind the ball, and we could not break them down.
But on another day, we would have had a penalty. And this is my issue with inconsistent decision making.
Throughout the game Andrew Madley penalised players that pulled back opponents – both Eddie Nketiah and Martin Odegaard were booked for pull an opponents shirt in and around the half-way line.
Once the referee sets a precedent during a game that any pull on an opponent is a foul, he needs to stick to it. And this is also where VAR needs to become more advanced.
The VAR should mimick the style of the ref in the middle of the pitch. Whilst the man in the van might not give a foul (or yellow card) for a minor shirt pull, he should follow the lead of the on pitch ref. If the on pitch ref is penalising those things, VAR should.
Likewise, if the on-field ref is letting things go,the VAR should adjust accordingly.
Once Madley has begun penalising players (with yellow cards) for a shirt pull, then he has to give a penalty. And if he misses the pull, VAR should award it to keep officiating of the game consistent.
Time wasting in the game is also one of my biggest bugbares. And the inconsistent punishment of time wasting is even more annoying.
Apparantly the ball was reportedly in play for a total of 43:17 seconds in Arsenal vs Newcastle. Yet no one was booked (on the field at least) for time wasting.
Against Brighton, Gabriel Magalhães was booked in first half injury time for time wasting.
Also during that game, Aaron Ramsdale was being given the “hurry up” by the referee at goalkicks from the first minute.
Meanwhile at Newcastle, Madley did not speak to Nick Pope despite him taking over a minute at times to take a goalkick. Nor did any player get a booking for time wasting.
Referees are inconsistent when it comes to punishing time wasting. And it always seems that those “backs against the walls defensive teams” are allowed to time waste more. Almost as if refs “accept” that it is part of their game and allow them to do it.
Meanwhile it is your top teams who often get penalised for it. Refs punishing them for not continuing to play their free flowing game and just doing what their opponents have probably done for 70 minutes.
The amount of times I have seen a keeper at a lower team time waste for 80 minutes, does not get booked, concede a late goal, and then the keeper of the leading team time wastes once and gets booked.
All fans ask for is consistent refereering – whether that be fans of Arsenal or elsewhere.
Between now and the end of the season, Gabriel or William Saliba will make similar to contact as to Dan Burn on Gabriel and the ref will point to the penalty spot. Likewise Aaron Ramsdale will be booked for time wasting, despite taking less than half the time over a goal kick than Pope did on Tuesday.
We somehow managed to keep 11-men on the field Tuesday, despite Madley giving out cards like he had realised the ones he sent before Christmas were still stuck in Royal Mail’s back log.
He lost control of the game for both teams. And you always know when the ref is bad when players of both teams are continually surrounding him.
We can take the influence of the ref out of the equation by creating more chances – and scoring those that we create. But this does not make inconsistent decision making by the man in black any less frustrating.
Even if we won Tuesday, I would still be unhappy with the refs performance.