Arsenal deservedly beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup on Sunday, but the refereeing performance of Howard Webb will no doubt be the headline.
Webb, not for the first time in his career, lost his nerve with crucial refereeing decisions – something that could have had a major influence on the game.
After a Steven Gerrard penalty had given Liverpool a lifeline in the game, the Reds were rightfully disgruntled when the Englishman refused to award another when goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain clattered into Uruguayan Luis Suarez.
Suarez’s theatrics that followed did him no favours, but it was a blatant penalty and the decision not to award it provoked fury inside the hostile and passionate cauldron of the Emirates Stadium.
The home fans, fantastic throughout, would have been incandescent had Webb pointed to the spot for a second time in the match.
Gerrard should also have seen red after clattering into Chamberlain at the other end, but yet again the referee decided to show mercy on the contest.
The decision not to send off the England captain will be another topic for debate over refereeing courage.
Not for the first time, Webb has lost his bottle.
Nigel De Jong infamously karate-kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest during the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, but the Englishman refused to show red on such a grand stage.
For England’s best referee to continue to bottle big decisions is embarrassing for the Premier League and for the nation.
A time out of the limelight would do him good, especially with the inevitable backlash that will follow yesterday's game.
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