Following Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over title rivals Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, the biggest talking point—at least for City fans and many associated with the club—was a Trent Alexander-Arnold handball in the buildup to Liverpool’s opener.
The decision by the referee and VAR not to wind the game back and award a penalty to City, instead allowing the subsequent Liverpool goal to stand, likely set the stage for what in the end turned into an unexpectedly comfortable Liverpool victory.
However, faced with a replay after the match that showed that he handled the ball before Alexander-Arnold, City midfielder Bernardo Silva—who until then had seemed incensed— admitted it was a situation and call that “could have gone either way.”
The City man still argued the handballs were “a bit different” as Alexander-Arnold had his arms further out than Silva’s had been, but under the current rule set, even an unintentional attacking handball that leads to a goal is meant to disallow it.
Liverpool were given a lesson in that recently when a Sadio Mané goal against Manchester United was ruled out due to an unintentional handball by the forward while his hands were close to his body. By that standard, Silva clearly handled.
By that standard, anything that happened subsequently to give City a goal or goalscoring opportunity in Liverpool’s penalty area was invalid—including Alexander-Arnold handling. It’s clear, it’s unambiguous, and it was the right call by the rules.
“We started well and were playing better than them when they scored a goal but that’s how Liverpool play,” Silva said of the game more generally. “They’re one of the best teams in the world—maybe the best team—at counter attacking.
“We arrived at the end of the game feeling it was unfair but congratulations to them. But still it’s only November and we didn’t want to be nine points behind in November but there’s still a lot of games to play and we’ll keep fighting.”