A fair deal

All we asked for was a fair deal. We didn’t get one.

To put things in perspective, we missed two sitters early on, the first by Mo Salah which left us all open-mouthed and in a stunned state of shock. Minutes later, Trent got his legs in a tangle when he was clean through.

But that apart, the decision-making of Referee Marriner was more applicable to an oval ball game played at Twickenham. With English rugby in such a parlous state at present, coach Eddie Jones should seriously consider Eric Peiters in particular. The Stoke left back spent the whole game grappling illegally, mostly with Mo Salah, but even as late as the final few seconds when he hauled back Bobby Firmino in the area.

An offside decision is supposedly negated when the ball is last played by a defender, except when it’s a deflection. Against Spurs, the two officials deemed Lovren’s contact the latter and allowed Kane to continue on and gain a penalty. Here Wijnaldum’s goalbound shot was blocked solidly before rebounded to Ings who shot home. It was a solid block, an intentional contact; not a deflection.

Soon after Stoke almost scored when Diouf all but took the proverbial lace out of the ball with an outstretched arm in midfield, the handball completely wrong-footing the Reds’ defence.

Against Roma, Milner was penalised in the area when the ball struck his arm which was in front of his body. Late on, Pieters stuck out his arm like a policeman on point duty and prevented two Liverpool players from tapping home. No penalty; no sending off.

And so it went on. Liverpool’s patched up side weren’t exactly dynamic, but they still did ample enough to win against a Stoke side who, Shaqiri apart, were so clumsy and cumbersome that they confused Liverpool with the ball regularly coming off shin, ankle and knee and bouncing anywhere. To compensate for their ineptitude, they simply bundled and body checked. Boy, I do hope they go down!

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this sort of performance at Anfield from referee Marriner; it’s happened before. To me his easy going style prevents him from coming down properly on over-physical teams. Having ironically acclaimed him for his excellent performance against City in the 4-3 when both sides simply wanted to get the ball down and play, here, with Stoke capable only of persistent foul play, he resorted to type.

At the end, Klopp shook the hands of the two linesmen but, significantly, missed out the referee. Then, with virtually the whole stadium venting its disapproval at the main official, it was almost like the man was puffing out his chest as he left the field, revelling in the glow such excessive attention was providing him with.

At present, the standard of refereeing overall in the EPL is appalling. Is it any wonder there is no English representative at Kiev?

All Liverpool asked for was a fair deal. They didn’t get one.

Mike Hopper

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