The job of a referee in a soccer game is to apply the laws of the game appropriately, help give the game some flow in a positive way, and do their job without bringing any attention on themselves. In short, a good referee and a good referee performance is one that you do not notice at all. While this might be a hard thing to pull off for a referee in a highly intense game like the one played by Arsenal and Chelsea on Monday night in Premier League action, it is still possible.
In the case of the referee for this game, Mike Dean, he unfortunately failed perform like a good referee as his (non) calls heavily factored into the result of the game. A number of weeks back I called out English/British referees and their defenders for the lack of courage they had shown in not making several moment of truth decisions that can either make a referee have a good game or mean he failed in his job in any particular game. With regards to Mike Dean, he failed and had a miserable performance on Monday night.
Dean condemned himself to a bad game late in the first half by failing to make two calls which a referee at that level simply cannot miss. The first missed call he failed to make came at the 35th minute as in a play right at midfield when Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel went into a tackle against Mikel Arteta by lunging in with both feet into the player, him off the ground, and studs showing. This is a textbook classic foul with excessive force that must be punished with a red card. The result should have been Mikel being sent off and Chelsea playing with 10 for the rest of the game. What did Mike Dean do? He didn’t even call a foul much less show show so much as a yellow card.
Then a minute later Mesut Ozil played a pass to Theo Walcott inside the penalty area and as Walcott got on the ball, Willian came over the top of the ball and clipped Walcott on the ankles. Dean failed to call a foul or award a subsequent penalty for Arsenal. Again, this is a call that a referee must make and cannot turn a blind eye towards.
To cap off a bad game, Dean would let the game descend into a messy, physical period for large stretches of the second half as he allowed cheap stuff to go on. He also showed yellow cards on a couple of occasions which didn’t warrant them and as a result showed a lack of appropriate application of laws of the game. Instead of talking about tactical and player performance first and foremost from the game we will first talk about the referee’s bad performance — and that is not a good thing.