Monday 19 December 2011

Wolves vs Stoke,Alternative Reality,December 2011.

Wolves 1 Stoke 2.

December hasn't been a great month for referees as barely a week has gone by without at least one major game changing decision being put under the spotlight by an ever critical press.It's a slightly unedifying spectacle to see former referees,especially ones who made high profile mistakes themselves,taking their former colleagues to task for momentary lapses of judgement.However,the incidents do provide great copy for my Expected Points model.

Unusually,Saturday's big beneficiaries were Stoke City.Manager Tony Pulis' innovative tactical ruse of largely dispensing with fullbacks and playing a back four consisting entirely of centre backs is now being copied by the likes of Wenger and at Molineux it was the turn of Jonathan Woodgate to depart centre stage and patrol the flanks.

Woody keeps his eye on the ball.
Despite coping admirably with the new challenge against one of his former teams,Spurs,the previous week,Woodgate looked ill at ease from the first minute as Wolves looked to expose his lack of pace and positional sense.A crude scything lunge after 10 minutes on Matt Jarvis unsurprisingly earned a yellow card and seven minutes later the two players again came together deep into the right hand corner of the Stoke penalty area.Jarvis invited the tackle,cleverly nicked the ball away and went tumbling under another clumsy Woodgate tackle.A penalty award appeared to be just part of Stoke's immediate problems,Woodgate himself appeared resigned to a second yellow card and the Wolves players certainly suggested to referee Anthony Taylor that they expected to be facing 10 Stoke players for the remaining duration.Surprisingly,Taylor opted for a penalty and nothing else and after Hunt had tucked away the spotkick Pulis replaced his converted fullback.

Expected Points if Taylor had Chosen to Dismiss Woodgate Compared to Taylor's Actual Decison.  

Stoke and Wolves were fairly evenly matched just prior to Woodgate's ill judged intervention,but as we've seen previously a combined red card and penalty decision can be a hammer blow to the transgressor.The penalty award made Wolves reasonably strong favourites to grab most points on average and the successful conversion nudged their Expected Points still further into the black.But a red card would have made things much more difficult for Wolves' Staffordshire rivals.Speaking after Huth's freekick and Crouch's far stick header had denied Wolves any return,manager Mick McCarthy was understandably livid that the red card hadn't been shown.His mood was in stark contrast to his delighted post game demeanor  when Wolves had previously claimed an undeserved point at Stoke courtesy of a blatantly offside Jody Craddock header.

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