Premier League Referee Power Rankings: September 2019

The second edition of this season’s Premier League Referee Power Rankings sees a bit of movement in the top half and a few new entries in the bottom half. Read on for the full top 10 as well as the worst performer of the month!

Before we begin, though, let me address how exactly I rank the referees, and what factors go into which place they occupy.

Goals, penalties and red cards are in my opinion the major three turning points of each match, so naturally, referee decisions relating to these incidents carry a lot of weight. Game management and fitness is something that also factors into my choices, but I’m not able to watch 10 fixtures every weekend and so I have a limited base of knowledge about that aspect of a referee’s performance. Certainly, for the ‘big matches,’ this will be something that I’ll do my best to ascertain, but it’s not a perfect system.

In any event, let’s hop into it – the rankings for this month (which are cumulative throughout the season, with more recent matches holding greater weight) go through to the end of Matchweek 7.

Previous edition: August


Image courtesy of The Sun

1. Anthony Taylor (previous: 1)

September 15: Watford v Arsenal
September 22: West Ham v Man United
September 28: Sheffield United v Liverpool

Taylor stays at the top of the pile on the back of a relatively good month, with an excellent handling of a tricky Watford-Arsenal clash a major highlight. Questions have been asked of Mark Noble’s extremely late tackle in West Ham’s victory over Man United, but it wasn’t a stonewall case of serious foul play, and an argument can certainly be made for both the yellow card that Taylor showed and a red that many pundits clamoured for. These matches, along with his previous performances, keep him number one for a second straight month to start the season.

2. Craig Pawson (previous: 6)

September 14: Tottenham v Crystal Palace
September 29: Leicester v Newcastle

Pawson followed up a routine Spurs-Palace fixture with a lot of correct big decisions in Leicester’s thrashing of Newcastle. He demonstrated excellent management of a straight red card to Newcastle’s Issac Hayden, in addition to playing two really good advantages that led to Leicester goals. He made a couple of minor incorrect calls in the first half and at times had tentative positioning, but when the game needed him to step up, he did big-time.

3. Michael Oliver (previous: 4)

September 14: Brighton v Burnley
September 22: Chelsea v Liverpool
September 28: Everton v Man City

Oliver showed a little bit of leniency in Brighton-Burnley, opting not to call a penalty for Matt Lowton’s shove, but that was the lone question mark over a month in which he presided over two big fixtures and came out of both of them without any noticeable blemishes. Bonus points for being unafraid to punish obvious Liverpool timewasting early in the second half of their win at Stamford Bridge.

4. Jonathan Moss (previous: 3)

September 22: Arsenal v Aston Villa
September 28: Crystal Palace v Norwich

I outlined my surprise at Moss’ positive start to the season in last month’s rankings, and he has once again impressed me with his September performances. Arsenal v Villa was a tough game to referee and Moss got all the big calls right, even if his fitness was lacking at times. There was a penalty in that match and a stonewall one in Palace-Norwich, two decisions which he nailed, and he only drops a place due to the performances of those above him.

5. Stuart Attwell (previous: 5)

September 22: Crystal Palace v Wolves
September 28: Bournemouth v West Ham

Another pair of solid games from Attwell, who has had pretty low-magnitude appointments thus far this season but hasn’t done himself any harm with his performances in them.

6. Chris Kavanagh (previous: 2)

September 20: Southampton v Bournemouth
September 28: Chelsea v Brighton

Kavanagh had a brilliant first month but had a really poor match on the South Coast, and he drops four places as a result. Not only did he miss a pretty clear penalty that should’ve gone Nathan Redmond’s way, but he displayed a low work-rate throughout the match and was often found lagging behind the play. He was much better in Chelsea’s win over Brighton, but more consistency across matches is needed.

7. Kevin Friend (previous: 9)

September 14: Norwich v Man City
September 30: Man United v Arsenal

Friend shone bright in Norwich’s upset win over Man City, with an excellent performance that understandably went under the radar of the shocking result. He was then appointed to Man United v Arsenal, where you can look at his match from two different angles. He had pretty good player management and dealt with player protests as well as he could have – however, he was inconsistent with his card management and sanctions, and could have potentially prevented a lot of chippy play by showing a more level disciplinary line in the first half. Credit has to go to his delay in whistling what proved to be a wildly incorrect offside decision that led to an Arsenal goal, which was then awarded by the VAR.

8. Martin Atkinson (previous: 10)

September 14: Man United v Leicester
September 21: Newcastle v Brighton

I had a lot of negative things to say about Atkinson last month, but he performed excellently in Man United v Leicester and was also pretty decent in an absolute snoozer at St. James Park. A good few matches for one of the league’s most experienced officials.

9. Graham Scott (new)

September 14: Wolves v Chelsea
September 28: Tottenham v Southampton

Two relatively straightforward matches sees Scott make his debut in the top ten. He barely had anything to do at Molineux before giving an easy second yellow card to Serge Aurier in North London two weeks later.

10. Lee Mason (new)

September 14: Sheffield United v Southampton
September 28: Aston Villa v Burnley

Another debutant occupies the last spot in the list, with a particularly excellent performance in Southampton’s trip to Sheffield. Mason played a great advantage that led to a Saints goal as well as correctly sending off Billy Sharp for a wild tackle.


September’s Worst: Andre Marriner (previous: 7)

September 14: Liverpool v Newcastle

Marriner only had one game in September, and it was not a good one. Following up on his decision in Bournemouth v Man City to not award a penalty for a clear stomp on David Silva’s foot—which was one of the four major errors identified by Mike Riley in his meeting with Premier League shareholders last month—Marriner ignored an even more obvious penalty appeal in Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle. Joel Matip was hauled to the ground so blatantly that even the Newcastle players momentarily stopped running, anticipating a whistle and point to the spot. Marriner, however, wasn’t having it. It hasn’t been a good start to the season for him, and the penalty situation aside, his refereeing was particularly languid at Anfield, not showing enough authority and not using very effective body language.

As an aside, he was initially scheduled to be in the middle for Chelsea v Brighton on September 28, a match which eventually went to Chris Kavanagh instead. Without meaning to be facetious, I am curious as to what prompted the change there.

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