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Mark Halsey says Saka penalty was la tough decision and could have gone either way”



Chelsea and Arsenal played out a thoroughly entertaining match at Stamford Bridge last night, in which the Gunners won 4-2 and secured three valuable points in their quest to finish in the top four of the Premier league. 

The Blue’s defence had an off night at the Bridge and were poor throughout; as they couldn’t deal with Arsenal’s counter-attacks, which left Thomas Tuchel unhappy after the game, with the German telling Sky Sports: “We scored five goals and lost 4-2. Three own goals, two regular goals for us and a goal for Arsenal.”

A lot of the goals were avoidable and in particular, Arsenal’s fourth, in which Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta gave away a needless penalty.

Saka initiated contact first with the defender, who then proceeded to hold the 20-year-old until the winger went down, which referee Jon Moss then deemed as a foul.

Saka goes down after being held by Azpilicueta

To help explain Jon Moss’s thinking behind his decision, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey gave his thoughts exclusively to Caught Offside, in which the former official stated:

“It’s a tough decision. Obviously, Saka and Azpilicueta are tussling for the ball, I think Saka initiates the contact initially with the Chelsea captain. You can see he’s got hold of his arm and that stops him from getting on the right side because obviously, he is blindside of him, there’s a little bit of holding going on and then Saka goes down.”

“It’s one of those, it’s subjective and just because the ball is nowhere near Saka and the ball goes behind him, it doesn’t mean to say a penalty cannot be awarded.”

Halsey then explained why VAR did not get involved, saying: “VAR won’t get involved in that situation because it’s subjective, I think had Jon Moss not given the penalty, I don’t think that a review would have been recommended because I think Saka initiates the contact in the first place. Also, if Jon Moss sees that and then gives the foul to Chelsea, again, it wouldn’t have been overturned and that’s why VAR has not gotten involved because it is not a clear and obvious error by the onfield referee.”

“It’s a tough decision and could have gone either way” concluded the former referee.

It was a tough decision for Moss to make but Azpilicueta shouldn’t have put himself in that position in the first place. Cedric’s cross was going behind the 20-year-old so why didn’t the Chelsea captain let go after Saka grabbed hold of him?

In the end, it might not have mattered as Arsenal were already 3-2 up but it’s football and you never know what can happen until the final whistle is blown.

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