The FA wouldn’t like to admit it, but refereeing decisions – whether made rightly or wrongly – decide games, a factor that seems to double or even triple in weight during high-profile Premier League clashes.
With that in mind, official Jon Moss could well be the determining factor in Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane curtain call against Manchester United this weekend, for which Spurs are favourites with 17/24 odds.
Regardless of whether their Premier League title bid will come to an end on Friday night when Chelsea face West Bromwich Albion, knowing one more win will get the Blues over the finishing line, Mauricio Pochettino’s side will be determined to leave their stadium on a high, imprinting positive memories into the minds of the White Hart Lane faithful, as they prepare for a year at Wembley before moving into a new arena.
In some senses, Moss’ presence should work in the Lilywhites’ favour. He ranks eighth throughout the Premier League for fouls per game and third for yellow cards per game from the 19 men to have officiated in the top flight this term, whilst United have racked up the second-most fouls throughout the campaign after Watford – Spurs, in comparison, have committed the eighth most. He’s already issued 30 fouls and seven yellow cards against the Red Devils in three games this season.
Moss has also overseen four Spurs victories this season, a perfect record for the Lilywhites with the 46-year-old in the middle. But that’s pretty much where the good news ends for Tottenham Hotspur, with Moss’ home-and-away bias pointing towards a disappointing end to the White Hart Lane era.
Indeed, he ranks the second-lowest for home wins and second-highest for away wins, only trumped on both fronts by Chris Kavanagh, who has refereed just the one match – a 0-1 win for Southampton at the Hawthorns.
It seems even a ferociously passionate crowd celebrating their final trip to White Hart Lane won’t be enough to sway Moss’ decision-making in Tottenham’s favour.
Spurs’ best hope is that United’s penchant for felling gets one of their players sent off, but even that would be a little uncharacteristic from Moss, who has issued just 0.11 per match so far this season.