Howard Webb has drawn fire from former Premier League referee Graham Poll for his handling of the contentious penalty incident that unfolded during Arsenal's 2-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday.
The Gunners made their way through to the quarterfinals of this season's FA Cup thanks to goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski, but Poll feels that Luis Suarez was unjustly denied a spot kick.
Paddy Power has footage of the incident:
VINE: Here's that penalty appeal that was turned down by Howard Webb: http://t.co/REF5iG2RX3 hmmmmm.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 16, 2014
In his Daily Mail column on Monday, Poll says that Webb was influenced by having already awarded Liverpool a penalty earlier in the match—a 59th-minute effort that Steven Gerrard gratefully tucked away.
That being said, replays made it difficult to argue against Suarez's penalty claim, with Oxlade-Chamberlain clearly making contact with the Uruguayan's foot inside the area.
The Mirror's John Cross wasn't restrained in his lambasting of Webb's performance:
Liverpool denied stonewall penalty amid an appalling refereeing display by Howard Webb. Good luck, World Cup.— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 16, 2014
Poll does take note of Suarez's theatrical attempts to ensure that Webb has seen the wrongdoing, although the exaggeration may have ultimately worked against him.
It's but the latest twist in what seems to be a never-ending tale of uncertainty around refereeing standards. Of course, officials are only human, but a team is nevertheless out of the FA Cup and a lot of the loss is attributable to this very decision.
Poll discusses this very clinical moment in depth:
Webb contributed well to an absorbing cup tie between Arsenal and Liverpool - but all his good work will be forgotten because of one error. That's the way it works for a referee.
Webb had a clear view of the incident but somehow managed to wave appeals away. Perhaps it was the theatrical way that Suarez went down or his reputation which made England's leading referee hesitate.
Webb is, as Poll notes, one of the most reliable—if not the most reliable—Premier League officials. He will take his place among those referees being used at the 2014 World Cup. For now, though, the English figure will be forced to endure some criticism coming in his direction. Not that it's anything brand new to a referee's routine.
As for Suarez, perhaps he will keep this incident in mind the next time clear contact is made. His reaction to the play may have played a factor in Webb's decision, so limiting any unnecessary theatrics may help him avoid such a situation next time.