Friday, January 21

Arsenal vs. Manchester United goal allowed by VAR: Fair play? Should the referee have whistled? Twitter reacts

In one of the strangest sequences you’ll see in the Premier League this year, Arsenal scored the first goal against Manchester United on Thursday with the goalkeeper at the goal line in a fetal position on his back to play.

Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe scored with a shot into a practically empty net, but referee Martin Atkinson initially disallowed the goal. A foul was supposed to have been committed on Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.

MORE: Live Updates, Arsenal-Man Utd Highlights

But the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) reviewed the play and saw that De Gea was actually bitten by his own teammate Fred and immediately fell into agony, turning his back on the action. And since the referee at no time whistled the dead play, the VAR alerted the referee and the goal remained standing.

Check out the work below:

Was it fair play from Arsenal?

Arsenal did nothing wrong on the play and had the right to continue playing and shooting.

Although they weren’t required to do so, the Gunners could have also kicked the ball offside to allow De Gea to receive treatment rather than shooting into a defenseless arc.

MORE: How Arteta is Restoring Arsenal’s Lost Soul

Some on social media argued that Arsenal should have allowed Man United to come down onto the field and score a goal to even the score as a matter of good sportsmanship. That was not happening.

Many have also criticized De Gea falling too easily and not trying to play along, at least giving himself a chance to save if he could pull it off.

Should the referee have whistled play dead?

The referee is not required to whistle, except if there is a head injury, when players can receive immediate treatment.

But the referee also has complete discretion to blow up the game and Atkinson probably would have done it if he had had more time.

MORE: Why is there no VAR in the CONCACAF WC qualification?

“Normally when the goalkeeper falls, we should stop the game, but mistakes happen,” Man United midfielder Bruno Fernandes said after the game. “Players make mistakes. I don’t know if the referee made one.”

He can’t help but wonder if the referee had this instance on the back of his neck when Arsenal had a penalty call just before halftime. Replays showed defender Harry Maguire had dropped Takehiro Tomiyasu by the arm, but there was no whistle and the same VAR who had no choice but to let Arsenal’s goal fail to signal a clear and obvious mistake.

The debate around this goal will go on for a few days, at least if the reaction from social media is any indication:

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