The Premier League ended Saturday’s action with a fierce London derby between Crystal Palace and West Ham United. In a clash of the south and west regional clubs of the great city, storylines were set, and conclusions drawn. For it could prove to be a pivotal point indeed when it comes to at least one of their fortunes.
It was an end to end affair, dominated by rash tackles that were, for the most part, let to fly by referee Martin Atkinson. Animations frequently bought the ref’s sympathy, while in some other cases, particularly in the case of a young-English left-back playing for the west London side, it bought his utmost cruelty.
Those of you out there raving about La Liga and Bundesliga are probably just saying “another game, another officiating scandal, typical Prem stuff”.
Well, sadly, yeah, that’s true.
Even though the Spanish league’s the one getting away with all that favoritism shown towards the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, some games in the Premier League have been cast some severe scrutiny in recent years. Last year, for example, you probably remember that game—although not too fondly—in which Jamie Vardy was sent off by referee Jon Moss. Moreover, if you and I remember correctly, that’s not all that he did. Not by a country mile.
He awarded two penalties, one at either end, and perhaps let more than a few crunchy tackles go by without notice for the majority’s liking (one even complained about him being on drugs).
On Saturday, Martin Atkinson put on a somewhat similar showing, but his decision that had the potential to alter this game to devastating effect got by without doing so. West Ham will probably still appeal Creswell’s red card—they have every right to—but this win and the three points must be the biggest takeaway for the Hammers from this game.
It ends their 5-game winless streak. It strangles them up and out of the relegation zone. Not to mention, you get a mind-blowing boost of confidence when you beat—let’s face it, their actual London rivals when you put squad talent levels into the equation—away from home, a man down, and keep a clean sheet to go along with it.
The Hammers’ new stadium could finally experience a lift-off, and what a juicy fixture they’ve got next.
The Almighty Sunderland.
Statistics observed via WhoScored.com