Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has called out VAR Stuart Attwell for his decision to rule out Gabriel Martinelli’s goal during Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Everton.
The Gunners claimed a 1-0 win at Goodison Park on Sunday thanks to Leandro Trossard’s hit in the second half. But Martinelli felt he had guided Arsenal ahead midway through the first period. Yet the 22-year-old saw Attwell advise Simon Hooper to disallow the Brazilian’s goal.
Martinelli caressed the ball into the far corner of Jordan Pickford’s net after Fabio Vieira put the winger clean through. He burst behind Ashley Young as the Everton defender and James Tarkowski appealed for an offside call on Eddie Nketiah. Martinelli’s hit left Pickford helpless.
VAR Attwell irks Arsenal in 1-0 win over Everton
Nketiah collected the ball after it broke through to the striker as he returned from an offside position. His touch directed the ball to Vieira, who played a perfectly weighted pass to send Martinelli through. It was also, effectively, Martinelli’s last action due to his hamstring injury.
On-field referee, Hooper, and his assistants initially allowed Martinelli’s goal to stand before VAR Attwell reviewed the Arsenal forward’s effort at Everton. The VAR then deemed Nketiah to have been offside, despite no Gunners player passing to the striker before he was onside.
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The ball fell to Nketiah after Beto blocked Gabriel Magalhaes’ intended pass back to centre-half partner, William Saliba. It completely redirected the path of the ball and sent it up-field to Nketiah, rather than into the Gunners’ territory. Yet Attwell did not view it as a deliberate act.
Despite Beto deliberately sticking out a leg and changing the path of the ball, Attwell viewed it as a deflection. So, the VAR only focused on whether or not Nketiah was offside as Gabriel tried to pass to Saliba. He would draw the VAR lines that showed the striker was slightly off.
Halsey believes Martinelli’s goal could have stood
As the only camera angle made available to broadcasters was not parallel with the pitch, the VAR lines did not give a totally clear image of Nketiah and Vitaliy Mykolenko’s positions. But Attwell advised Hooper that Nketiah was offside and ruled out Martinelli’s goal at Goodison.
Ex-Premier League referee Halsey, however, believes Everton would have had to accept it if VAR Attwell had told Hooper that Martinelli’s goal to put Arsenal ahead should have stood. He believes Beto’s touch could just as easily have cancelled any offside decision on Nketiah.
“I do not think there would have been any complaints had Gabriel Martinelli’s disallowed first-half goal stood,” Halsey has told The Sun. “Gabriel Magalhaes’ pass deflected off Beto before it reached Eddie Nketiah.
“The Everton striker did not deliberately touch the ball and, with Nketiah in an offside position in the build-up, VAR ruled the goal should be chalked off.
“At the time, I actually thought Martinelli might have been the one penalised and the officials possibly hid behind the law when making the decision.”