PGMOL chief Howard Webb has had the final say on Anthony Gordon's controversial winner for Newcastle United against Arsenal and Scott McTominay’s disallowed goal for Manchester United against Fulham in the latest edition of Match Officials: Mic'd Up.
Webb took position in the studio alongside Michael Owen to discuss the controversial refereeing decisions in the Premier League from the past month and explain why the calls were made.
Why Anthony Gordon goal vs Arsenal stood
Gordon condemned Arsenal to their first Premier League defeat of the season on 4 November when he swept in a 64th minute goal from close range. But it was marred in controversy after a four-minute VAR check on several incidents within the build-up, followed by a tirade from Gunners boss Mikel Arteta and a statement supporting his comments from Arsenal as a club.
Now, with the full conversation between the officials disclosed as part of the show, Webb has broken down each part of the goal – from the ball ruled to have stayed in play, to the alleged foul from Joelinton on Gabriel and a possible offside on Gordon.
"An unusual situation with three aspects for the VAR to check, whether or not the on-field decision of 'goal' should be overturned," Webb reflected.
"We see the ball getting very close to the goal-line. Don't forget we've got an assistant referee who was right in line – the ball hasn't got a lot of pace – he's looking right down the line, better than any of our cameras. We know the ball is curved, so it can be overhanging the line. We need evidence that it's out [of play] and we don't have that here.
"The ball then comes over and Joelinton challenges Gabriel. Might be a foul, [but] the VAR decides that the evidence from the footage isn't clear enough to intervene with a recommendation. I think the talk we’ve seen after this situation, the opinion that it’s split, suggests that was a correct non-intervention because of the subjectivity.
"Then, one of those unusual situations where the ball goes between two players and trying to identify exactly when the ball leaves Joelinton – it's really difficult to establish because of the players being so close together. Again, no conclusive evidence that Gordon was offside when the ball was last touched to him. Therefore, the VAR went through that diligently and identified no clear evidence to intervene to overturn the goal. The process, actually, was correct."
Why Scott McTominay goal vs Fulham was disallowed
Erik ten Hag's team thought they had scored an early goal through Scott McTominay, only to see it chalked off for an offside call on Harry Maguire following a pitchside review.
"Just being in an offside position in itself isn't an offence. It all depends on what you do when you're in that position," Webb commented.
"If you touch the ball as an attacker in an offside position or play the ball then that's an offence of interfering with play. That's factual and when that happens, the referee doesn't need to go to the screen.
"But you can also commit an offence without touching the ball as an attacker in an offside position. It all depends on what you do in that position and that needs a judgement by the match officials. It depends whether you interfere with an opponent.
"What we see Harry Maguire do here is attempt to play a ball that's close to him, he challenges an opponent for the ball and he makes an obvious action by moving towards that defender Rodrigo Muniz which impacts his ability to play the ball.
"If you take Maguire out of that situation, Muniz has got an opportunity to clear the ball before it gets to [Alejandro] Garnacho. But it needs a judgement by the officials, so the VAR will ask the referee to go to the screen to make that subjective just like the referee does in all the other subjective areas of the Game. A good intervention and correctly the referee was sent to the screen."
A last-ditch Bruno Fernandes goal eventually won the Game.
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