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Premier League
Saturday, 15th August 2015

West Ham United 1
Leicester City 2

by Gordon Thrower


Some things never change. You can always rely on West Ham to follow up a superb performance with a defeat. And you can always rely on certain referees to put in performances that, in many other countries, would have investigators swarming all over their financial records.

After the opening weekend’s triumph Bilich resisted the temptation to make too many changes, with the previously “league-tied” Jenkinson coming in at right-back to replace Tomkins. Starting XI: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Reid, Ognonna, Noble, Oxford, Kouyate, Payet, Zarate, Sakho. Sadly Leicester had a fully fit (physically if not mentally) Anthonyy Taylor to call on.

Let’s put it this way. Anthony Taylor is not a fit and proper person to be refereeing a football match. Not at this level Not at any level. He set out his stall early on by awarding the visitors a goal-kick after Morgan had clearly headed over his own goal from a free-kick awarded after Noble’s Cruyff turn had deceived King. It was just the first of a whole number of decisions Taylor got wrong. With disastrous consequences.

On ten minutes Adrian won a race to the ball with Vardy. Vardy’s challenge was studs up and he had both feet off the floor, catching the keeper late. Taylor issued a yellow despite the instructions to referees on such challenges being quite clear.

I would say Taylor’s performance was erratic but the use of that adjective suggests an air of unpredictability about proceedings when, in fact the official was totally predictable and can be summed up thus: if a wrong decision could be given he would give it.

Example: A Huth effort was clawed away for a corner by Adrian only for the visitors to be stunned by the decision to award a goal kick. At best the decision was incompetent – how did he think that the ball took such a wild change in direction? At worst it was downright dishonest – an attempt to atone for the previous corner error up the other end. The fact that we benefited on this occasion is irrelevant.

Despite dominating possession in the early stages we went behind on 26 minutes. Reid got caught out of position and Vardy got in behind to clip the ball into Okazaki, who Oxford had failed to keep goal side of. The Japanese striker’s first time effort was marvellously saved by Adrian but the ‘keeper was powerless to stop Okazaki nodding in the rebound.

The goal unsettled us and for 15 minutes we went to pieces and the lead was doubled ten minutes later. Reid and Ogbonna failed to get close enough to Albrighton and his cutback found Mahrez in acres to bury a shot past Adrian.

Jenkinson went into the book for dangerous play as Okazaki stooped to head a ball – a decision remarkable only in the light of what was to occur later on.

Just before the interval Taylor excelled himself. Sakho beat Schmeichel to the ball and the keeper deliberately stuck out an arm to impede the striker. The only decision should have been whether the ‘keeper should have seen red – there was absolutely no question that it as a penalty. Incredibly Taylor decided otherwise. It would be great for referees to be forced to stand up and explan decisions like these – if only for the fact that many of them would be exposed for the dishonest incompetents that they actually are.

Half Time: West Ham United 0 Leicester City 2


Although the odds of making a recovery were still in West Ham's favour, according to bet 365 betting code (use the bonus code: MAXBET), we made a change at the interval. Oxford had been largely by-passed in the middle and we required more of a player to pull the strings going forward from defence, Enter, therefore, Obiang. Sadly Anthony Taylor had failed to pull a hamstring during the interval and was free to continue to wreak havoc on the laws of the game, a copy of which presumably is gathering dust on the bookshelf next tot the copy of “A Brief History Of Time” that he also intends to read one day.

The change improved matters immeasurably. Obiang, of whom nothing has been seen by your correspondent in pre-season, looks comfortable on the ball and was constantly picking the ball in front of defence to start an attack. We were particularly getting joy down the left where Cresswell, Payet and Zarate were all looking dangerous. Cresswell stuck over a dangerous cross that saw Morgan bundle Sakho over – the fact that the defender didn’t once look at the ball in the incident should tell you all you need to know about that one.

We dominated the second half and it came as no surprise when we pulled one back within ten minutes of the restart. Jenkinson fed Noble on the right. The skipper pulled the ball back to the edge of the box. Payet’s initial effort was blocked by Sakho. However, whilst Kouyate’s tee-up wasn’t perfect, Payet’s feint was good enough to buy the midfielder the space to stick an unstoppable shot past the keeper.

It’s fair to say that Leicester were on the back foot – so much so that the time-wasting as getting silly. On a rare attack it took nearly a whole minute for the to get someone over to take a corner – something that led to much tapping of the watch by Mr Taylor who nevertheless eschewed the option of issuing a caution to any of the guilty parties.

Up the other end Sakho would have been better off miscuing a loose ball than hitting it cleanly. A mishit would have crept in whilst the clean shot hit Schmeichel in the chest. After a couple of Leicester substitutions, which took so long one of them is still occurring as I type this, we made a couple of changes of our own. Kouyate was replaced by Lanzini and Zaarate by Maiga in an attempt to ix things u but Leicester were hanging on.

Taylor then added on three minutes of stoppage. With a recommended 30 seconds of time for each replacement and with 5 of those taking place after the interval, the official was effectively telling us that there had been no stoppage time in the second half. So quite what all that watch tapping was about we will never know. Mr Taylor seems to thrive on insulting the intelligence of the paying supporter I’m afraid.

Adrian went up for a corner. The ball was cleared to the edge of the box and Adrian’s high boot caught Vardy in the chest. The issue of the red was at best arguable. Adrian had his eyes on the ball throughout and the effort was dangerous rather than reckless. The fact that it was deemed worthy of a harsher punishment than the actions of a player went out to deliberately injure a player was unacceptable – the irony being that if Taylor had the slightest clue about the game Vardy wouldn’t have been on the pitch in the first place. To put it another way, Jenkinson had earlier got a yellow for an identical challenge.

It was simply the icing on the cake from an official who ought to be facing a long spell on the sidelines until he can prove himself capable of applying the laws of the game. With all subs used Jenkinson went between the sticks but any chance of a late equaliser had been removed by the momentum being taken away by Taylor.

Full Time: West Ham United 1 Leicester City 2


I get a lot of grief over my criticism of referees. I’m “far too harsh” on them apparently. The problem is that amongst those involved in the game in any sort of professional capacity there is a culture that protects referees in general and the so-called “select” group in particular.

A manager is 100% more likely to be punished for commenting out an incompetent display by an official than the official is for failing to perform at a satisfactory level. Even in the mainstream media, whilst you may read about Mr Taylor’s performance this weekend, you’ll look in vain for any journalist conducting any in-depth look at the current appalling state of officiating in this country.

To those who believe that referees should be fireproof and not held accountable for the results of their actions, congratulations because this sort of performance is clearly this is the sort of thing you want every week. This match is the prime example of the consequences of such a policy – and things will only carry on getting worse until there is a complete reform at the top levels of refereeing to punish incompetency and reward excellence.

Overall we need to consider the performance and the second half we showed a lot of fight; much more than we would have for most of last season. Downhearted but not disheartened then.Leicester did well in that 20 minute spell in the first half but will be acknowledging the assistance they got from the referee – at 2-1 at half time and with Obiang on for Oxford we would undoubtedly have got the point we deserved – at least.

So chin up!



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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Showed remarkable restraint in the face of what must have been an overwhelming desire to flatten the ref.


Carl Jenkinson
Defensively ok but too often in the second half when we needed him to be force going forwards the attack would break down from a lack of guile on his part.


Aaron Cresswell
Did ok and was instrumental in supporting the good work going forward on the left in the second half.


Winston Reid
Got caught out of position for the goals I’m afraid.


Angelo Ogbonna
His shaky 20 minutes coincided with the spell in which the damage was done.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Seemed to be in no-man’s land for much of the game.


Mark Noble
Has been given a pivotal role in midfield and much went through him.


Reece Oxford
This wasn’t the sort of game where his neutralising services were required and as a result the gae went on around him somewhat. Failed to track back for the first.


Dimitri Payet
The pick of the bunch and the goal was superbly taken.


Mauro Zarate
Usual blind alley stuff first half. Looked better coming in from wide in the second half.


Diafra Sakho
Must be wondering what he has to do before gaining a penalty.


Substitutes


Pedro Obiang
(Replaced Oxford) Useful debut. Like Payet he can spot a pass.


Manuel Lanzini
(Replaced Nolan) Enough useful touches to suggest that this may be a decent signing if he gets a run in the team.


Modibo Maiga
(Replaced Zarate) No significant contribution.


Darren Randolph
Did not play.


James Tomkins
Did not play.


Matthew Jarvis
Did not play.


Kevin Nolan
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 34,857.

Man of the Match: Dimitri Payet.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Reece Oxford, Dimitri Payet, Mauro Zarate, Diafra Sakho.

Goals: Dimitri Payet 55                  .

Booked: Carl Jenkinson 40          .

Sent Off: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo 92    .

Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel, Ritchie de Laet, Jeffrey Schlupp, Andy King, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Marc Albrighton, Daniel Drinkwater, Shinji Okazaki, Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez.

Substitutes: N'Golo Kanté (Shinji Okazaki 62), Yohan Benalouane (Ritchie de Laet 66), Christian Fuchs (Riyad Mahrez 82).

Subs not used: Andrej Kramaric, Dean Hammond, Leonardo Ulloa, Jonny Maddison.

Goals: Shinji Okazaki (27), Riyad Mahrez (38).

Booked: Jamie Vardy (11), Shinji Okazaki (54), Yohan Benalouane (88).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Gordon Thrower's Man of the Match: Dimitri Payet