It was a big weekend in terms of the key battles at all ends of the Premier League table, with the title race, the top four, and the battle to stay up all on the agenda.
The main talking points came in Liverpool’s win over Everton and Arsenal’s win over Manchester United, with the latter possibly proving decisive in the race for Champions League qualification, while the former could end up having a major impact on what happens at the top and the bottom of the league.
The Merseyside Derby really burst into life with some unsavoury behaviour from both sets of players in the first half.
That melee in the first half was all handbags really, and I thought the referee handled the incident well. It’s difficult to sort those situations out, and obviously there’s VAR there to back the referee up.
I think this will probably lead to both clubs being charged for failing to control their players in that incident, but the referee handed out a couple of cautions and calmed the game down, so I think he did well.
There were two big talking points in the second half of Liverpool’s win over Everton.
Looking at the penalty shout for Everton after Gordon was pushed by Matip – for me, that’s a clear penalty. Stuart Atwell was behind the play a bit, trying to catch up, and he maybe didn’t have the ultimate viewing angle. I thought it was a clear error from Stuart and I don’t understand why VAR didn’t get involved.
For me, we’re still seeing too many inconsistencies with VAR. You look at the Arsenal penalty in their game against Manchester United – the goal was disallowed and then they noticed the foul on Saka in the build-up, but for me Gordon’s penalty shout is more of a nailed on penalty than the Saka one was. If VAR got involved on that, then why didn’t they intervene with the challenge on Gordon?
Had Stuart Atwell decided to give the penalty there, I think that would have been the final decision, we wouldn’t see VAR overrule it, so what does that tell you?
On the other hand, Everton were also lucky, or rather Richarlison was lucky. I think had a red card been shown for his kick out at Henderson, I don’t think VAR would get involved as it wouldn’t have been a clear and obvious error.
? "I've gone one v one with him and I've got the better of him and he's stood on me foot."
Anthony Gordon explains why he feels he should've had a penalty and that he didn't deserve a yellow card for his "dive" pic.twitter.com/lhCkgxiwqB
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 24, 2022
Gordon was obviously cautioned for trying to deceive the referee in the first half, so perhaps that was on his mind later in the game. But referees must make sure they’re refereeing what’s in front of them – just because he went down easily in the first half, doesn’t mean he was doing so again in the second half, so for me that’s a clear and obvious error.
Going back to that game between Arsenal and Man Utd, there were a fair few talking points in an action-packed game at the Emirates Stadium.
Anthony Elanga maybe felt he should have had a penalty, but I think he went down far too easily, I agree with VAR not getting involved in that, it’s subjective.
It would have been a soft penalty had the referee given it, so I think the officials got that one right, as they did with the later handball by Nuno Tavares.
It was a good spot by Craig Pawson. I don’t think Arsenal can have any complaints about that at all – his arm was clearly in an unnatural position. Of course it didn’t matter too much in the end as Bruno Fernandes missed from the spot.
Bruno Fernandes has let himself down in his last two games and referees need to keep an eye on him
The Portugal international was unfortunate with his effort, but he then got very lucky a bit later with his challenge on Tavares.
I’m surprised that VAR didn’t recommend a review. I thought that was a challenge that endangered a player’s safety with excessive force. I think Fernandes was very fortunate that VAR didn’t recommend a review. He certainly wasn’t having his best game for United and maybe that was his frustration showing, but it’s a bad challenge.
It’s an ugly side of Fernandes’ game when things aren’t going well for him – we also saw it a few days earlier in the Red Devils’ defeat at Liverpool.
In that game, we saw Fernandes get away with a high challenge on Trent Alexander-Arnold’s knee – had Martin Atkinson opted for a red card on that occasion I don’t think it would have been overturned.
When he’s on his game, Fernandes is a joy to watch, but with United struggling at the moment I think referees would do well to keep an eye on him as someone who can lose his head a bit when things aren’t going his way.
Back to Arsenal, we saw Granit Xhaka wrap up the three points for the Gunners with a superb long-range strike, but technically that goal should have been disallowed.
I believe that goal should have been ruled out for offside due to Nketiah interfering with Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
If you look at De Gea, he has to go to the right, he’s looking around Nketiah, is he interfering with the goalkeeper? Is he interfering with his line of vision? I think he is.
It’s not always that obvious how much a player can be deemed to be interfering with play, but I think his positioning clearly made it difficult for De Gea to get as close to that shot as he would’ve liked, though of course there’s no guarantee he would’ve saved it anyway as it was such a powerful and quick-moving effort. Overall, though, I still feel that the goal should not have stood.