‘Penalty was soft’ – Mark Clattenburg gives verdict on two big refereeing decisions in NLD

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Mark Clattenberg
Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has insisted that the penalty awarded to Tottenham in the first half of the North London Derby ‘was soft’ but insisted that Rob Holding can have no complaints about his sending off.

Paul Tierney’s decision to hand Spurs a penalty for Cedric Soares’ push on Son Heung-min and his decision to send Holding off for his persistent fouling of the South Korean, has dominated the headlines after Tottenham’s 3-0 win, partly stoked by Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments.

The Arsenal boss was not at all pleased with both the decisions, accusing the referee of destroying the game and insisting that he would be suspended if expressed how he truly felt about both calls (Sky Sports).

On the other hand, Antonio Conte has insisted that there is no doubt that Tierney made the right decisions in both instances (BBC Sport).

Clattenburg believes that Spurs were lucky to get the penalty, insisting nudges in the back of the kind Cedric gave to Son are quite regular occurrences inside the box.

He told The Daily Mail: “The penalty was soft. This was a defining decision in a match with so much riding on the result and I’m not sure I would have given this. Technically, Paul Tierney wasn’t wrong.

“We were shown a replay of what the referee could see from behind and it looked like a nudge in the back from Cedric Soares on Son Heung-min. But if we’re going to give this as a penalty, I could find plenty of other examples when the same ‘foul’ has occurred in the box in other games.

“The inconsistency is frustrating because when this happens next week in another Premier League game, will it be given? Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Tierney considered it a clear foul and Harry Kane said thank you very much.”

However, Clattenburg insisted that Arsenal cannot have any complaints about Holding’s red card.

He added: “Holding had to go. He had already been fouling Son prior to receiving his first yellow, almost targeting the Spurs forward in a running battle.

“Although referees allow a degree of feistiness in these derbies, Tierney finally lost patience with Holding and booked him for his third foul on Son, this time for pulling back his opponent.

“Given he was already on a yellow, it was therefore stupid of Holding to block Son’s run using an elevated arm.

“Antonio Conte’s teams love making it so that the referee has decisions to make. Holding fell for it hook, line and sinker, and his naivety sank Arsenal.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I think Clattenburg’s assessment of both incidents is quite fair. I do not think that Arteta genuinely believes what he said about the red card decision in his post-match interview. The Arsenal boss likely said what he did to protect Holding and he would have likely criticised the defender privately.

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