9 controversial decisions in Premier League history
The Premier League hasn’t gone by without its controversial moments over the years. The ones that have left talking about for days, weeks, or in most of these examples, years.
From Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick to Pedro Mendes’ disallowed goal at Old Trafford, here are nine memorable but controversial moments in Premier League history:
Pedro Mendes disallowed goal
Tottenham Hotspur were denied victory in the 89th minute at Old Trafford in January 2005 after Pedro Mendes’ long-range effort was spilled by Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll and clearly crossed the line, only for the goal not to be awarded. It appears that the only three people not to see the ball cross the line that night were the officials.
It wasn’t until September 2012 that Spurs would finally get their first win at Old Trafford in the Premier League era. Manchester United were victors over Tottenham this season and remain a popular bet on the English Premier League title race.
Steven Gerrard dive vs Everton
There have been many controversial decisions in Merseyside derbies and they always seem to fall in the favour of Liverpool.
In October 2007 at Goodison Park, with Everton leading Liverpool 1-0, Tony Hibbert brings down Steven Gerrard inside the penalty area. It was soft but it was a penalty. Referee Mark Clattenburg pulls out his yellow card only for Gerrard to have a word in his ear before the referee puts the yellow away and pulls out the red to send Hibbert off.
During the same game, Dirk Kuyt gets away with a high, two-footed lunge on Phil Neville, only receiving a yellow card. The Dutch forward even admitted after the game ‘maybe I was a bit lucky’ not to receive his marching orders.
With Liverpool leading 2-1 late on Clattenburg was again the only person in the ground not to see Jamie Carragher wrestle Joleon Lescott to the ground in the penalty area.
Don Hutchinson disallowed goal in Merseyside derby
Everton had already beaten Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield earlier in the season and would have secured a rare Premier League win over their rivals but for some unfavourable refereeing.
In stoppage time Liverpool had a free kick inside their own penalty area which goalkeeper Sander Westerveld booted at the back of a retreating Don Hutchinson, only for the ball to loop over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
However, referee Graham Poll decided to blow up for full-time 30 seconds before it was due and declared the match a 0-0 draw instead.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain/Kieran Gibbs red card
During the London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal in March 2014, Chelsea were rightly awarded a penalty after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tipped Eden Hazard's goalbound shot around a post with his hand.
However, referee Andre Marriner sent off Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs instead.
Oxlade-Chamberlain even appeared to tell the official that he was the culprit, but the original decision still stood.
Wayne Rooney dive ends Arsenal’s unbeaten run
Arsenal were on a record 49-game unbeaten run in the English top flight between May 2003-October 2004 when they were controversially beaten at Old Trafford.
It had been a game of few chances before Manchester United were handed a golden opportunity from the penalty spot in the final 20 minutes. Referee Mike Riley awarded the hosts a penalty after Wayne Rooney through himself over Sol Campbell’s shadow inside the penalty area. It wasn’t even close.
Ruud van Nistelrooy converted the resulting spot kick before Rooney scored in the 90th minute to seal the victory.
Alan Pardew headbutts David Meyler
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew brought the game into disrepute in March 2014 when he headbutted Hull City midfielder David Meyler.
The former-Sunderland midfielder was attempting to grab the football on the sidelines at the KC Stadium, pushing Pardew out of his way before the manager retaliated by attacking him with his head.
Alan Pardew was handed a seven-game ban and fined £160,000 for his actions.
Luis Suárez bites Branislav Ivanović
In a fierce clash between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in April 2013, Reds striker Luis Suárez bit opposition defender Branislav Ivanović on his right arm.
It was missed by referee Kevin Friend at the time but Suárez was quickly handed a 10-match ban.
Chelsea had been leading 2-1 at the time only for the Uruguayan to head home a 97th minute equaliser when he shouldn’t have even been on the pitch.
Eric Cantona kung-fu kick
One of the first real controversial moments in Premier League history came on 25 January 1995 in a match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park.
With the score at 0-0 early in the second half, Eric Cantona was sent off for an off the ball kick on Eagles defender Richard Shaw. As he was walking towards the tunnel, Cantona then launched a kung-fu style kick on a home supporter who had reportedly run down 11 rows to shout abuse at the United striker: "Fuck off back to France, you French motherfucker."
The story gained worldwide attention which led to Cantona’s famous quote at a press conference:
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
Eric Cantona was banned for eight months by the FA and Blackburn Rovers would go on to win the Premier League title that season.
Adrian Mutu drugs
New Chelsea owner Roman Abrahimovic was splashing money around like there was no tomorrow when he arrived and one of his first signings was Adrian Mutu in a £15.8 million deal from Parma.
The Romanian had an adequate first season in the Premier League before José Mourinho took charge at Stamford Bridge the following season. Mutu was out of favour with Mourinho and was then released from his contract in October 2004 after failing a drugs test – testing positive for cocaine.
Adrian Mutu received a seven-month ban but would be signed by Juventus before moving onto Fiorentina where he would have a very successful spell.
Chelsea then sued Mutu for €17 million in damages for breach of contract