Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from the weekend’s football,
Luton 1-3 Sheffield United
Incident: Vinicius Souza headed a corner into Thomas Kaminski’s clutches after the ball took a deflection off Reece Burke’s hand. As Luton went up the other end, referee Chris Kavanagh paused the play for a VAR check. The official gave the spot kick after visiting the monitor, with James McAtee dispatching the penalty.
Dermot says: “With the law as it is, to a certain extent, I can understand the decision.
“Referees don’t like it but it’s not the referee’s choice. Arm is above the shoulder and it definitely strikes him. That’s the rule.
“There’s a number of things. Is his arm extended? Yes. It his arm above his shoulder? Yes. Is the ball goal-bound? Yes. It’s ticked a lot of boxes. It doesn’t have to tick them all to be a penalty.
“I make it clear – I don’t like the rule. Referees don’t like the rule. But the rule is a rule. If you see that, you can’t unsee it. The VAR saw it and has to give the penalty.”
Incident: Luton got a penalty themselves in similar circumstances after half-time as Elijah Adebayo headed onto Souza’s arm, with Kavanagh called to the monitor once again for the formality, leaving Carlton Morris to pull a goal back for the hosts.
Dermot says: “I think the decision is really harsh. The first one I can understand why it’s given, but this one I’m looking and I just don’t see it.
“Is it a clear and obvious error? The referee gets sent to the screen and he still has a chance to say no. I think he gets it wrong.
“I actually thought he’d go across to the screen and then say no. But the first one has been given, so does he have to give the second one because of consistency?”
Nottingham Forest 2-3 Newcastle
Incident: Nottingham Forest felt hard done by after referee Anthony Taylor dismissed their claim for a penalty when Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka’s outstretched arm looked like it brought down Taiwo Awoniyi. VAR checked it and confirmed the on-field decision.
Dermot says: “I can understand the referee not giving it from this angle. But when you see the replay, you can see that Dubravka flicks his arm up and that’s what causes the problem for Awoniyi.
“When he brings the arm up, that’s what VAR should see on the replay, and that’s why I thought it was a penalty.”
Liverpool 3-1 Burnley
Incident: There were a couple of checks on Luis Diaz’s goal to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead against Burnley. The goal was checked for an offside against Harvey Elliot and a foul by Alexis MacAllister on Aaron Ramsey.
Dermot says: “I wasn’t convinced it was a foul. I think if a foul is going to be given in this incident [Luis Diaz’s goal] it’s got to be the on-field referee – not VAR. Otherwise you’re re-refereeing a football match.”
West Ham 0-6 Arsenal
Incident: Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Bukayo Saka ran on to a long ball and was fouled by Alphonse Areola. The West Ham goalkeeper was shown a yellow card. There was a question of offside but VAR confirmed Saka was onside. Was the decision just to award Areola a yellow correct?
Dermot says: “Penalty and a yellow card is sufficient, because he’s in the penalty area.
“Saka gets taken down – is he going to score a goal? Maybe. The rule is yellow card. I think Areola would be very unlucky to receive a red card in that situation.”
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