Newcastle United came close to ending Liverpool’s title hopes in a thrilling 3-2 loss on Saturday evening, but some Toon fans think the score line should have been very different.
A controversial incident involving Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has incensed a lot of supporters, who believe the right-back should have been sent off early on.
Alexander-Arnold proved one of Liverpool’s heroes on the night, chipping in with two vital assists.
But Newcastle fans have been arguing that the right-back shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all due to a deliberate handball during Christian Atsu’s goal at 20 minutes.
Liverpool had taken the lead in the 13th minute thanks to PFA Player of the Year Virgil Van Dijk, who headed home from a corner.
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But Newcastle were quick to force an equaliser.
After some good Newcastle build-up, a Matt Ritchie cross found Salomon Rondon at the back post with the goal at his mercy.
But Liverpool’s right-back was there to block the tap-in – with his arm.
It looked like a deliberate action from the defender but just seconds later Atsu was able to slot home the rebound.
Although Newcastle got their deserved goal, Newcastle fans have argued that Alexander-Arnold should have seen red.
His handball was an act of serious foul play and had Atsu not immediately scored, a penalty would have surely been awarded.
It’s led to some confusion over what the rules say about such an incident, and left Newcastle fans frustrated and puzzled.
Annoyingly, Alexander-Arnold then went on to provide a stunning cross for Mo Salah eight minutes later, who re-took the lead with a neat volley.
But Newcastle fans are continuing to ask, should he have even been on the pitch?
Newcastle fans on Alexander-Arnold handball
What the rules say
According to IFAB’s laws of the game: “If the referee plays the advantage for an offence for which a caution/send off would have been issued had play been stopped, this caution/send off must be issued when the ball is next out of play, except for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.
If it was deemed that Alexander-Arnold had committed a deliberate handball, then he was clearly denying a goal scoring opportunity, which means he should have seen a red card.
However, Atsu scored immediately after, and the referee Andre Marriner took no action and seemed to play advantage.
Therefore, after the goal, the referee cannot issue a retrospective red card for any offence that is not violent conduct.
He can instead only issue Alexander-Arnold a caution, meaning the defender should have at least been given a yellow card.
It’s an odd rule, especially given that all other rules clearly state that Arnold’s offence is an immediate red card.
As Marriner didn’t caution Arnold, he may well have missed the handball altogether or deemed it a non-deliberate act.