It may be 2018 but boy did 2017 end in controversial style in the Premier League. It wasn’t a happy new year for one manager who saw his side go down to a fellow relegation rival, it wasn’t a clever end to the year for one Liverpool player and it was the best end to the year a certain referee could’ve hoped for.
3. Jon Flanagan
The Liverpool defender has spent more time in court than on the football pitch in the festive season after being accused of domestic violence towards his girlfriend. On the night of Liverpool’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Arsenal, Flanagan hadn’t travelled with the squad and went on a night out with his girlfriend but ended up attacking her in the street in a drunken rage. CCTV footage showed Flanagan kicking his girlfriend and mother-of-two during a ‘prolonged attack’ late at night. With Flanagan struggling to get into Jurgen Klopp’s plans, a court date and a community sentence aren’t going to help his chances.
2. Mike Dean
You knew something had to happen in the last Premier League game of 2017 when Mike Dean was appointed as the referee. With just hours to go until Big Ben’s chimes, Dean had to make himself the centre of attention one last time before the new year and it just had to be against Arsenal’s favour. With the Gunners leading 1-0 away to West Brom, Dean gave a penalty for handball by Calum Chambers when his arm was close to his body and in a natural position. It was a staggering decision to give the penalty and even Dean seemed to make up the reason for giving it, making a gesture with his own arm to indicate where Chambers’ was but Dean’s reenactment wasn’t in any way accurate and showed Chambers’ arm to be by his head.
Jay Rodriguez scored the penalty and the game ended in a draw but the protests didn’t stop there. Petr Cech, a calm and composed figure in the Arsenal team, was seen arguing with Dean after the final whistle and appeared extremely frustrated and angry in his post-match interview. The referee, in typical fashion, booked Cech as he walked off the pitch and refused to talk to him. Arsene Wenger has since been charged with comments he made to Mike Dean after the match but the referee won’t be worried about all that. He got what he wanted and that was to end 2017 with a bang.
1. Mark Hughes
It’s just getting worse and worse for Stoke manager Mark Hughes. He fielded a weakened team against Chelsea last Saturday and came away from Stamford Bridge with a 5-0 defeat after being completely outclassed by the Champions. His reasoning for this was that he wanted his key players to be fresh for the visit of Newcastle just 48 hours later which was received in a mixed way by the Stoke fans. Those that accepted it were then expecting a much better performance against Newcastle and almost certainly a win. Instead, they went down 1-0 to the Magpies and their key players who sat on the bench at Stamford Bridge didn’t turn up. Mark Hughes turned up to his post-match press conference but ended up leaving hastily after his team selection for both games was questioned. After already being under pressure because of Stoke’s poor league position, this incident wouldn’t have helped the situation, but luckily for him, Stoke aren’t a sacking club. For now.