Thursday, April 18News That Matters

Martinelli’s opener for Arsenal vs Liverpool was allowed to stand due to a VAR loophole

The video assistant referee was unable to check whether Bukayo Saka was offside in the build-up leading to Gabriel Martinelli’s opener in Arsenal’s victory over Liverpool on Sunday due to a technical problem.

Martinelli opened the scoring for Arsenal inside the opening minute after being played through by Martin Odegaard. But the move began when Ben White played in Saka down the right-hand side, when the latter may have been in an offside position.

Saka was running back towards the ball in an effort to stay onside when White played the pass, but Hawk-Eye, who provide the technology for VAR, was unable to determine whether he was onside or offside.

According to ESPN, Bukayo Saka was out of view of all five of Hawk-Eye’s cameras which are calibrated to work offside decisions.

The linesman on the near side kept his flag down and when the goal was given by referee Michael Oliver, the officials had no way of determining whether Saka had committed an infringement.

Therefore, the goal stood, despite Saka looking very close to the line of the last defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

This is not the first time such issue has occurred this season, as Juventus saw a late winner against Salernitana ruled out by VAR for offside because Hawk-Eye did not notice that Antonio Candreva was out of the picture playing the whole Juventus side onside.

The possible offside against Saka was not one of the most contentious decisions in Arsenal ’s 3-2 victory at the Emirates. Jurgen Klopp was furious in his post-match press conference after two calls went against his team.

Liverpool did not earn a penalty when the ball struck Gabriel’s hand in the penalty area, but were punished when Gabriel Jesus went down after contact from Thiago.

Saka scored the penalty in the 76th minute to give Arsenal the win, return them to top spot in the league and leave Liverpool in 10th, 14 points behind.

“We know in life if two refs think the same that is the truth and we have to live with,” said Klopp, speaking about the Jesus penalty decision. “If I see the situation back, if there was contact – and I’m not sure there was contact but there might have been soft contact – the player (Jesus) was again on both feet and then down.

“That’s an indication that something might have been made up – but not for the refs. They thought it’s a clear not a handball in the first half when Diogo Jota put the ball on Gabriel’s arm. We cannot change that.

“A couple of things went against us but we are not blind, we see we could have done better in moments. In general it was a good away game against a good side. We caused them a lot of problems but stand here with no points.”

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