February 18, 2014
FA Cup Classic Arsenal-Liverpool Duel Marred By Ref Howard Webb Mistake

Sunday's FA Cup ouster still has Liverpool steaming over a missed decision by referee Howard Webb that could have, they believe, cost them the game and a chance at this year's FA Cup trophy. One former Liverpool player now says that Howard Webb should never officiate a Liverpool match again.

So what has the Reds seeing red even two days after falling 2-1 to Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium in North London, to end Liverpool's FA Cup hopes at the fifth round stage?

Mainly, Webb's failure to call a clear penalty against Arsenal goal-scorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 65th minute, after the Gunners midfielder clearly brought down Liverpool's star Uruguyan striker Luis Suarez inside the box. The missed decision cast a pall on what was otherwise a tense, FA Cup classic.

The controversial challenge was captured in a series of still images.

Perhaps because Suarez has a reputation for diving and certainly made the most of this contact in the FA Cup match, or maybe because he had earlier awarded Liverpool a penalty, whatever the reason, Howard Webb failed to give a second spot kick.

"He gave us a penalty when Suarez was clipped by Lukas Podolski but then, for reasons nobody in the country can understand, he failed to award a spot-kick when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain clattered into Liverpool's number seven," wrote former Liverpool man John Aldridge in The Liverpool Echo, calling on Webb to refrain from ever refereeing a Liverpool match again.

Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard, who coolly converted the earlier penalty chance for the Reds' only goal of the FA Cup showdown, was more diplomatic, but equally critical of Webb's non-call.

"In my opinion, it was a stonewall penalty. It was even more blatant than the penalty which was awarded. The referee was very close to the incident. It's one you expect to get," said Gerrard. He added charitably, "Howard Webb is a top referee and I'm sure he will have a look at it himself."

Webb, a 42-year-old former South Yorkshire police sergeant, has been a Premier League referee since 2003. He came to worldwide attention for issuing a staggering 14 yellow cards in the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.

Statistics compiled by The Daily Telegraph newspaper following the controversial Sunday FA Cup showdown, demonstrated that Howard Webb calls fewer penalties in the latter stages of a match than other comparable referees.

The average Premier League ref calls 24 percent of his total penalties in the last 15 minutes of a match. Webb calls under 17 percent of his during those minutes.

Despite dropping out of the FA Cup, Liverpool sit fourth in the Premier League, three points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur for the final UEFA Champions League qualification slot.