The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has confirmed two wrong calls by the officials during Arsenal’s Premier League match at Newcastle United on November 4.
The main controversy revolves around Anthony Gordon’s goal in the 64th minute, which was initially given on-field but went through three VAR checks. Despite footage showing the ball potentially being out of play and Joelinton’s hands pushing Gabriel Magalhaes from behind, the goal stood, and Newcastle won the match 1-0.
The on-field decision to award the goal was followed by a near five-minute wait, during which VAR intervened. Arsenal protested the decision, claiming that the ball had gone out of play and also calling for offside. Additionally, they argued that Gabriel had been fouled by Joelinton as he knocked the ball down for Gordon to score.
PGMOL confirms two wrong calls in Newcastle United vs Arsenal match
However, new audio released as part of the Mic’d Up programme revealed that the officiating team did not consider the possibility of a foul on Gabriel.
The VAR assessment stated: “I don’t see a specific foul on Gabriel. I see two hands on his back but I don’t see anything of a push that warrants him flying forward like that.”
PGMOL chief Howard Webb also explained why the goal was allowed to stand as part of the programme.
He said: “This was a big moment – an unusual situation with three aspects for the VAR to check whether or not the on-field decision of goal should be overturned. We see the ball getting very close to the goalline – don’t forget we have an Assistant Referee who is right in line – the ball hasn’t got a lot of pace as it goes to the goalline, so he’s looking right down the line better than any of our cameras.
“And we know the ball is curved, so it can be over-hanging the line and we need evidence it’s out, and we don’t have that here. The ball then comes over and Joelinton challenges Gabriel, and it could be a foul, might be a foul. The VAR decides that the evidence from the footage isn’t clear enough to intervene with a recommendation for a review for a clear error.
“I think the talks we’ve seen after, the opinion that is split across a lot of analysis, would suggest that was a correct non-intervention because of the subjectivity. And then one of those unusual situations where the ball goes between two players, and trying to identify exactly when the ball leaves Joelinton, is really difficult to establish because of the players being so close together.
“So again, no conclusive evidence that Gordon was offside when the ball was last touched. The VAR went through that diligently and identified no clear evidence to intervene to overturn the goal. The process was actually correct.”
Although VAR affirmed that the procedures leading to the goal’s approval were correct, Howard Webb acknowledged that both Kai Havertz and Bruno Guimaraes should have received red cards for their fouls during the contentious match.
In the first half, Havertz committed a reckless challenge on Sean Longstaff, resulting in a yellow card. On the other hand, Newcastle’s Guimaraes went unpunished for hitting Jorginho on the head. The decision not to even book Guimaraes became more controversial when he later received a yellow card for another harsh foul, this time on Fabio Vieira.
The Independent Key Match Incidents Panel of the Premier League has already determined that both players should have been sent off, and Webb concurs with this assessment.
“Quite a busy game wasn’t it, a lot happening in this important game,’ the PGMOL chief said on the Match Officials Mic’d Up show.
“A couple of situations that in the cold light of day, analysis that we go through, going forward we would expect red cards in both of those situations.”
Interestingly, the VAR audio for both incidents was not made available, unlike the one concerning Gordon’s goal.