Dermot Gallagher dissects the big flashpoints from the weekend’s action and discusses whether Everton should have been awarded another penalty against Brentford for a shirt pull on Richarlison?
Everton 2-3 Brentford
INCIDENT: Richarlison’s shirt is pulled by Brentford defender Kristoffer Ajer in the penalty area directly before Jarrad Branthwaite is sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity at the other end. Should Everton have had a penalty? And would it have meant Braithwaite remained on the pitch?
VERDICT: The VAR has backed the referee, but would also have cleared his decision if he had given a penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: From what I get fed back, they felt that both players were pulling. They felt Richarlison was pulling Ajer’s shirt and Ajer was pulling his shirt. I would suggest that if Michael Oliver gave this as a penalty, the VAR would go with him. But because he has this opinion that both players are grappling and don’t forget, the referee is relaying back to the VAR what they see. He is of the opinion both players are grappling. If you look, I can understand that to a certain extent.
What happens then, as the play goes on, the VAR checks that off-screen and while they are checking that it goes up field, Branthwaite then gets sent off. So you have this hiatus where he produces a red card, that has to be checked and yes that’s OK, then they go back to that and decide no penalty. When they do that Brainthwiate’s red card stands. Ironically, if they go back and give the penalty, Branthwaite would have stayed on the field.
When anybody pulls a shirt they are taking a massive risk, but the ref felt Ajer was being pulled as well. That is the vagary of VAR, it has backed the referee here, but if he had given a penalty, I am one hundred per cent confident that VAR would have cleared it.
Tottenham 1-0 Burnley
INCIDENT: With the first-half drawing to a close, VAR instructs referee Kevin Friend to look at the monitor as it spotted a potential handball by Ashley Barnes, who was grappling with Davison Sanchez at a Tottenham corner. The ball struck Barnes’ arm, which was in an unnatural position, but the Burnley striker had little time to react to the ball bouncing. So was the right decision made?
DERMOT SAYS: When it occurred, I never gave it a second thought: the minute I saw a replay, I said: ‘This is going to be a penalty’. We’ve seen it all season and we may not like it – certainly teams don’t like it when we’re on the receiving end of it – but any player who puts his arm out like that so high, it’s been a penalty all season [after the rule change which declared extension of body position is handball].
If it strikes the arm, then it is clear and obvious as the referee didn’t see it. The handball is a factual decision. The directives this season is that if it’s shoulder height or above and it’s away from the body, then [it’s] a penalty [and they have] been given all season.
Intent is totally taken out of the law now. It’s not a nice rule, but the referees have to apply them.
West Ham 2-2 Manchester City
INCIDENT: In the first half of the match, Gabriel Jesus goes down under Kurt Zouma’s challenge in the penalty area. Replays show that Jesus was kicked by Zouma but referee Anthony Taylor did not give a spot kick and VAR chose not to get involved. The contact is clear, so why is it not a penalty?
VERDICT: No penalty. I don’t think it’s a foul.
DERMOT SAYS: There’s contact, no doubt about it but for me, the contact is most made by Jesus coming backwards. The connection is made because Zouma is trying to block the ball, Jesus is spinning his body round and he’s already going backwards with his feet. He doesn’t kick him. The VAR didn’t feel it was a foul nor a clear and obvious error.