The outcry over handball decisions has been surprisingly quiet this weekend, so it’s almost refreshing to see some controversy about a good old fashioned “last man offence” decision instead.
It’s worth pointing out that it’s fairly irrelevant if someone is the last man or not, and it purely comes down to the referee deciding if an obvious goal scoring opportunity has been denied.
There was an incident early on between Arsenal and Sheffield United this afternoon, and Graeme Souness was making the case for a red card being given here:
This was the big talking point at half-time!
Should David Luiz have been sent off after two minutes? ?
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 4, 2020
There’s no doubt that the game could’ve gone differently if Luiz is given his marching orders, but it actually looks like the referee has made a fair call.
Making a decision over an obvious goalscoring opportunity is a judgement call so VAR can’t get involved unless something particularly egregious has happened, while Lee Mason also has the support of former Premier League ref Keith Hackett over this decision:
“There is no doubt that the offence by David Luiz would bring the aspect of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity into the ref’s mind”
“Lee Mason decided not to show the red card, while VAR will only intervene if the referee has made a serious and obvious error”
“In this situation, the referee has to consider the following criteria when it comes to obvious goalscoring opportunities:
- Distance between the offence and the goal
- General direction of play
- Likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
- Location and number of defenders
He clearly gave David Luiz the benefit of the doubt by feeling that the likelihood of Burke keeping or maintaining control of the ball was in doubt.”
“I support the referee in this decision”
Obviously it’s the kind of decision that will irritate some fans because we often hear that consistency is the most important thing, but every decision is different and humans will natural judge scenarios in different ways.
The truth about this decision is there are arguments for giving it either way so that immediately rules VAR out from overruling the decision, while there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Mason did make the right call.
Anyone rooting against Arsenal today won’t like it because a red card does change the game if it’s given, but when you watch it again and take the laws into account then you can understand how the ref arrived at his decision.