Jose Mourinho is a lot of things, but he’s dead on with his criticism of Martin Atkinson and Burnley’s Ashley Barnes. Barnes made two terrible tackles Saturday, and his foul on Nemanja Matic could have resulted in a broken leg. Matic did deserve a red for retaliating, but how a referee could allow that tackle go unpunished begs serious question. Would video have helped him? Probably.
Getty ImagesPaul Gilham
The bad calls continue
If Atkinson had a bad game on Saturday, Kevin Friend had a nightmare on Sunday. Southampton were denied at least one penalty, and Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet should have been sent off for handling outside the box. (The weak explanation provided by the rules committee as to why he was not, was laughable.) Liverpool won thanks to a world-class goal from Philippe Coutinho, but would this game have been tighter had Mr. Friend had a little help from a replay official? Yes.
What has happened to Tim Howard? Sunday, against Leicester, Howard coughed up two horrible goals and very nearly gave away the winner at the death. In fact Howard has not looked sharp all season long. Some of this is due to a World Cup hangover, perhaps -- but is some of it perhaps also due to outside distractions? His book and the ensuing Brad Freidel controversy; the headiness of the whole “Secretary of Defense” meme; the TV appearances (where he’s been very good, it should be noted) ... is all that taking a toll on his on-field performances right now? Maybe.
AFP/Getty ImagesFABRICE COFFRINI
It’s grim up North where John Carver is presiding over a Newcastle side that is quickly sinking into the relegation scrap. After a 5-0 hiding by Manchester City, former great Alan Shearer ripped the team’s heart and character, and quite correctly. Insipid isn’t the word for this bunch right now: they look totally lost. Newcastle are going to struggle to find eight points between here and May on the evidence, and will only be saved by the fact so many worse teams sit below them. That’s shameful for this big and very badly run club.
AFP/Getty ImagesOLI SCARFF
One man who Newcastle fans were happy to see the back of was Alan Pardew, but some of them are liekly rueing their vitriol about now. Under Pardew, Palace have lifted themselves out of the bottom, and are playing some plucky and gritty football. Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal -- which Pardew called one of his most "satisfying" losses -- showed that Palace have the aplomb required to stay up. Palace have won five games across all play since Pardew took over, but now face a series of tricky fixtures against West Ham, QPR and Southampton. Are they great? No. But are they playing with heart and direction? Yes.