The second weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign was once again marred by controversial VAR decisions, with Manchester United prominent victims of a bad handball call.

One might have thought that the increased opportunity to visit the pitch-side monitors, would have alleviated the contentiousness associated with refereeing.

However, it has ultimately led to officials over-analysing defining incidents, causing inconsistencies, especially when it comes to handball.

The Laws of the Game

The International Football Association Board determines the regulations of the game and clarified the amendments to the handball law ahead of the new season.

The Premier League implied the following changes:

The four errors

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Victor Lindelöf: Manchester United v Crystal Palace

The Red Devils were already a goal down, but were still very much in the game, when Lindelöf was penalised with roughly 15 minutes to go.

Jordan Ayew’s strike hit the arm of the Swede, who in truth was in close-proximity to the ball. Yet, despite the ball travelling a short distance, the referee pointed to the spot, albeit after reviewing the incident on the monitor.

Yes, his arm was arguably in an unnatural position, but considering the ball was travelling at pace from a few yards out, it was an incredibly harsh decision.

Wilfried Zaha eventually converted the spot-kick to increase Palace‘s goal-margin, and though United pulled a goal back, it wasn’t enough, as The Glaziers added a third late on.

The handball call was harsh on Manchester United and arguably fatal against Palace.

Gabriel: Arsenal vs West Ham United

In Arsenal‘s 2-1 victory over West Ham United, Tomáš Souček’s header into the area appeared to strike the arm of defender Gabriel.

The ball looked to have hit the elbow of the Brazilian defender, but despite a brief consultation with VAR, the incident went unpunished, despite the ball travelling a relatively long distance.

Considering that the aforementioned Lindelöf incident was penalised, despite a shorter proximity, it seems baffling that Gabriel escaped punishment.

The scores were 1-1 at the time and could have potentially changed the outcome of the game for The Hammers, who fell through to Eddie Nketiah’s 85th-minute winner.

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Matt Doherty: Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur

The scores were 5-1 in Spurs‘ favour when Doherty was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area against Southampton.

The incident took place towards the latter stages of the second-half and considering Danny Ings’ scored the resulting spot-kick, it could have led to a capitulation with four minutes of stoppage time to play.

The ball did strike the arm in an unnatural position, but again common-sense should have prevailed, given it was from close-proximity and the defender had no opportunity to move his arms away.

Chris Wood: Leicester City vs Burnley

The New Zealand striker opened Burnley’s account in the Premier League with a well-taken finish in their 4-2 defeat to Leicester City.

The forward volleyed home in the tenth minute, but appeared to use his arms in an attempt to control the ball.

Considering the laws dictate that any goal scored or created via the immediate use of the hand or arm would be ruled out, it’s confusing how Wood’s strike was allowed to stand.

Related Topics