Ref Watch: Was Arsenal's winning penalty against Liverpool soft and what is the handball law? – Sky Sports

  • November 1, 2022


Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2 to remain top of the Premier League thanks to a controversial penalty won by Gabriel Jesus; Liverpool also felt they should have had a penalty for a handball by defender Gabriel; Dermot Gallagher analyses handball calls across the weekend
Former Premier League referee
Monday 10 October 2022 21:52, UK
With an incident-packed Super Sunday clash between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium – plus handball and offside uncertainty across the weekend – Sky Sports’ referee expert Dermot Gallagher gives his verdict on the contentious calls.
INCIDENT: Granit Xhaka crosses the ball into the Liverpool box and Gabriel Jesus competes for the ball with Thiago Alcantara. The Arsenal striker goes down under Thiago’s challenge and Michael Oliver immediately awards the penalty. VAR does not intervene to either look or overturn the decision.
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DERMOT’S VERDICT: Incorrect decision.
DERMOT SAYS: I think it raises two issues. Firstly, it’s not in line with what has changed this season. The League has raised the threshold and there’s more physical contact. Without doubt, Thiago doesn’t get the ball and makes contact with Jesus. But is it enough to give a penalty? I think not.
The next problem is when it’s thrown to the VAR, Michael Oliver will say to the VAR: he doesn’t get the ball, he made contact with the player which he has. So there’s no evidence that he has made an incorrect decision, the VAR has to stay out. It will always default to the referee’s decision.
INCIDENT: Gabriel Martinelli crosses the ball into the Liverpool box and then catches Trent Alexander-Arnold on the ankle. The Liverpool defender stays on the ground and requires treatment – and is withdrawn at half-time due to injury. Oliver and VAR choose not to penalise Martinelli for the contact after crossing.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: Correct decision.
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DERMOT SAYS: It was checked because I heard them check it. Martinelli crosses the ball and it’s just unfortunate. In football, there is physical contact that you don’t anticipate and this was the case. A complete accident.
INCIDENT: Darwin Nunez scores from Luis Diaz’s cross, but the Uruguayan was standing in an offside position for Alexander-Arnold’s long ball forward at the start of the move. Nunez does not go for the ball and Gabriel touches the ball into Diaz’s path, leaving the Liverpool attacker to cross to Nunez and score. Oliver and VAR say Nunez is not offside at all in the move.
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DERMOT’s VERDICT: Correct decision.
DERMOT SAYS: They feel Nunez doesn’t attempt to get the ball and doesn’t impact play because it goes through to Luis Diaz, who crosses and Nunez unfortunately scores. I say unfortunately because he started in an offside position but then Gabriel touches the ball so he is in an onside position so is allowed to continue playing. That’s one of the nuances of the offside law.
INCIDENT: Diogo Jota crosses into the Arsenal box and the ball strikes Gabriel’s arm. Oliver and the linesman on the side choose not to give a penalty and VAR agrees after looking at it.
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DERMOT’S VERDICT: Incorrect decision.
DERMOT SAYS: All I can think is that the referee and VAR felt it was too close a proximity. What we’ve seen this season is if the arm is out – in this case at shoulder height – then it’s been penalised. When I saw it and saw the VAR being used, I expected it to be overturned.
They felt it was too close, that’s why it wasn’t given. I anticipated the VAR would recommend a review. All I can think is the VAR felt it was too close so wouldn’t recommend it. If he doesn’t do that then the referee can’t look at the screen.
INCIDENT: With Newcastle leading 2-0, Aaron Hickey heads the ball forward onto Dan Burn’s arm, with the Magpies defender not looking at the ball in the process. VAR informs referee John Brooks to look at the monitor and a penalty is given.
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DERMOT’S VERDICT: Correct decision
DERMOT SAYS: I was surprised the Gabriel one wasn’t given. I wasn’t surprised this was. The minute I saw it, I thought: ‘His arm is up that high and I expect it to be given’. I think they’re very similar and I was surprised they weren’t treated the same.
The directive is if the arm is at shoulder height and above then it’s going to be penalised. Dan Burn, I never thought for one second it wouldn’t be penalised.
INCIDENT: Gianluca Scamacca scores for West Ham to make it 2-1 but Fulham players accuse the Italian of touching the ball with his arm twice in the same move. VAR takes a long look at the two handballs and deems that Scamacca has not deliberately committed an offence.
VAR TIME TAKEN: Two minutes and 40 seconds.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: The first one is handball, the second is not.
DERMOT SAYS: I actually think it touches his hand – and to be fair to the VAR he studied it, studied it and studied it. He looked at it for two minutes and 40 seconds. He checked every single angle and he wasn’t convinced it struck the hand. If he’s not convinced, he can’t give it.
I think it touches his hand because of the way the ball travels down. It was a difficult call for the VAR. He didn’t look at it and throw it away. Nobody can criticise the VAR for being diligent.
The second one is more doubtful, the first one is where it strikes the hand as the trajectory of the ball goes down.
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INCIDENT: Michail Antonio scores West Ham’s third goal but is accused of handling the ball in the build-up. The Hammers forward appears to control the ball with his hand, but it is not picked up by the officials and Antonio finishes the move with a goal.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: It’s handball but VAR can’t rule out the goal.
DERMOT SAYS: I think it was a handball originally as he swipes at it but because it’s not picked up by the referee, it goes on and it doesn’t materialise in a goal because Fulham players touch the ball and the play resets.
The law says if it strikes his hand, it’s got to go directly to a player or his colleague to be penalised. It goes to the same player and that’s where it is complicated. If it was picked up on play that it was handball then it’s given as a foul, but the VAR deemed it wasn’t deliberate handball so he can’t penalise it.
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INCIDENT: Marcus Rashford scores what looks like a third goal for Manchester United, but is penalised for controlling the ball with his hand after Everton defender James Tarkowski came in to challenge him. VAR rules the goal out for handball.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: Correct decision.
DERMOT SAYS: It does strike his hand but he’s the only player involved in the move. He scores and it doesn’t go to any other player. You can argue that he’s still got to go on and score but there’s not another player involved. The fact that an Everton player plays it onto him is immaterial. It’s about whether it strikes his hand or arm. And it does strike his arm.
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