In the latest edition of Ref Watch, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher assesses the key incidents from the weekend’s games, including a contentious handball decision in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Burnley.
INCIDENT: Arsenal felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Erik Pieters, who had his arm outstretched, looked to have handled in the area, but VAR did not deem it a clear and obvious error.
DERMOT’S VERDICT: Decision made on proximity, but Pieters fortunate.
DERMOT SAYS: “I think they went on the proximity. You can see how close the player is.
“We saw N’Golo Kante on Thursday night at Liverpool vs Chelsea. The arm was up, the arm was out, but they said it was too close. I think they followed the same premise here.
“What I would say is Pieters runs a massive risk because we all know if you put your arm out like that, you are very likely to give a penalty away. If the penalty was given, I don’t think he could have too many complaints.
“The confusion is because it is subjective. You are asking 18 different individuals in the Premier League to make a decision on something they see with the different directives. Is it close? Has it come up off the body? Are the arms in an unnatural position? What is an unnatural position?
“Moving forward next season, we will still have problems because it will still remain a subjective decision. There is no hard and fast way of saying, yes, that’s a penalty or that’s not a penalty. It really falls down to the individual on the day.”
INCIDENT: Further drama came as Andre Marriner pointed to the spot when Pepe’s volley hit Pieters and flew onto the crossbar. Pieters was initially shown a red card, but it was overturned by VAR official Kevin Friend with replays showing the ball struck the Burnley man on the shoulder.