Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Paul Merson and Jamie Redknapp agree on Arsenal penalty that left Liverpool boss fuming

Paul Merson and Jamie Redknapp agree on Arsenal penalty that left Liverpool boss fuming

Michael Oliver’s decision to award Arsenal a penalty in the second half against Liverpool, according to Paul Merson and Jamie Redknapp, was “soft.”

The Gunners took the lead at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday thanks to a fine Gabriel Martinelli finish, but Liverpool recovered from a slow start to equalize in the 34th minute through Darwin Nunez.

Arsenal regained  the lead during first-half stoppage time when Bukayo Saka stabbed the ball home from close range, only for Roberto Firmino to equalize shortly after the restart.

There was more late drama, however, when Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute after Thiago Alcantara brought down Gabriel Jesus inside the visitors’ area after knocking the back of the striker’s heel while challenging for a cross.

As tempers flared on the field, VAR upheld Oliver’s decision to award the penalty, and Saka slotted home the spot-kick.

The decision to award the penalty was a major talking point following the game, with Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp, Paul Merson, and John Barnes all weighing in.

“I think it’s a soft penalty, we can agree on that but how Liverpool defended there, Fabinho he’s on the floor, there was no urgency and I think that goal sums up where Liverpool are as a unit,” Redknapp said.

“No one’s taking responsibility, no ones pressing, no ones trying to win tackles. Fabinho falls over and he might’ve had a knock, he’s normally a defensive midfield player, if you compare that to Thomas Partey today who was alive to every situation, nobody is really doing their job.”

Agreeing with Redknapp, Merson said: “I would say soft. I called it straight away, he has kicked the back of his foot, if you do that I’d call it a penalty. I’d call it a home penalty but with VAR it doesn’t matter. The lad [Saka] is a tremendous player and shows a lot of bottle, it took a long time, it was about two minutes before the penalty was taken as well.”

Former Liverpool winger Barnes added: “I think it’s very soft, it’s a very soft penalty. Yes there is contact but contact doesn’t mean it’s a penalty.

“Thiago tries to control the ball, it goes wrong, when the ball goes out wide and comes to Gabriel Jesus, he does get the ball and Thiago does kick him but I don’t think the kick is enough to go down. There is contact but him going down without being able to get a shot off or the kick making him go down, I think it’s a soft penalty.”

Following the game, which saw Arsenal move to the top of the Premier League and Liverpool drop to tenth, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp had a lot to say about the decision to award the Gunners a penalty.

The German said: “What can I say now about that situation? He [Michael Oliver] thought immediately it’s a penalty which is interesting but his decision.

“Mr [Darren] England had a look at it and thought as well it’s a penalty. We know in life if two refs think the same that is the truth we have to live with.

“If I see the situation back, if there was contact – and I’m not sure there was – there might have been soft contact, then the player goes again on both feet and then down, that’s an indication that something might have been made up. But not for the refs.

“But they thought it was a clear not handball in the first half when Diogo put the ball on Gabriel’s arm, and we cannot change that.

“Our situation is difficult enough with injuries on top of that, but in a game like this, when decisions go against you it’s kind of typical but it doesn’t help. Now we have lost the game.”

Many fans on social media called the handball Klopp is referring to “baffling.”

Following a Jota cross, Gabriel Magalhaes was seen handling the ball inside his own penalty area, but both Oliver and the VAR officials, Darren England and Edward Stuart, decided against awarding a penalty.

Paul Merson and Jamie Redknapp agree on Arsenal penalty that left Liverpool boss fuming