There was a moment last night in the 3-1 win over Torino which stands out, for us.
And not because of anything Liverpool did, but because of the official Michael Oliver.
The referee gave Liverpool a penalty early on for what many claimed at the time was an innocuous foul on Sadio Mane.
Except it wasn’t innocuous – it was a stonewaller. What happened is that the Torino defender got across Mane and fouled him. But our Senegalese superstar continued his run and still got a shot off on goal, instead of going down and ‘guaranteeing the pen’. He decided to stay on his feet, but was still awarded a penalty for the foul on him. Anywhere else on the pitch it would have been given a foul and Oliver was 100% correct to point to the spot.
There should absolutely be no difference between a foul outside the box and a foul inside; although the way the game has developed there seems to be.
What Oliver did last night, by giving a penalty when the player stayed on his feet, is discourage diving in the box. If an attacker is still given a penalty after a foul when he stays on his feet, he benefits from doing so, as he gets the chance for a shot on goal as well.
Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett told Betway that Oliver is the best in the business right now.
“He’s the best in the country right now,” he began.
“Eighteen months ago, I was saying his work rate’s poor. He needed to engage more with players and talk more. But he’s brought that into his game.”
Last season at Anfield, Liverpool were awarded one Premier League penalty at Anfield.
That was an absolute disgrace, in short. In every single game, there were moments like last night, when one of our attackers beat a defender, was fouled, but nothing was given because it wasn’t ‘clear-cut’.
If refs start awarding penalties for clear fouls when players stay on their feet, Liverpool will be helped tenfold, especially at Anfield, when we dominate every opponent who visits.
One issue we may have though is our ability to convert the penalties when awarded!
Fabinho missed last night, despite scoring 19 of 20 throughout his Monaco tenure.
Roberto Firmino missed two last season, Mo Salah failed once and James Milner did too. It seems a cursed chalice right now, after Milner was so reliable a few seasons back.
We’re happy to let Fabinho continue with duties – and are just glad he got his miss out of the way during pre-season!