In a match between the top two sides in the Premier League, Arsenal and Liverpool, you’d hope the focus after the match would have been the quality of the product on the pitch. Sadly, most of the talking points yet again revolved around a potentially match-altering refereeing decision.
In the 20th minute, a touch off of the foot of Mohamed Salah was swatted down just inside the penalty box by Martin Odegaard to deny the Liverpool striker the opportunity to advance into the box with the ball. The on field referee, Chris Kavanagh, decided not to blow the whistle for the stone cold penalty. The perennially incompetent David Coote was the VAR official, and he further did not advise Kavanagh to have another look.
At half time, PGMOL released a statement to Sky Sports, stating that the penalty was not awarded because as the Arsenal midfielder’s foot slightly slips: “Odegaard’s arm is moving towards the body and not the ball as he goes down.”
The explanation is baffling, especially since Odegaard moves to the ball to stop it from going past.
After the match, Arsenal defender William Saliba was asked about the moment in the match. Saliba, to his credit, absolutely feels his side got away with one.
“Yeah, of course. It was a penalty but I’m not the ref and they have to accept it.”
Liverpool could have, and likely should have, gone on to win the match regardless of the refereeing. Still, it is galling to yet again have a furor over VAR for what should be a simple decision.