Theupdate Eye: Why Liverpool weren’t given a penalty for Odegaard’s handball


Jurgen Klopp spent much of the buildup to Liverpool’s Premier League meeting with Arsenal focussing on the Anfield crowd.

After what Klopp perceived to be a pair of subdued atmospheres from the Merseyside faithful against both Manchester United and West Ham, Liverpool’s orchestrator-in-chief demanded “a proper Anfield experience”, asking fans to give up their tickets “if you are not in the right shape”.

The vast majority of the 57,000 bodies squeezed into the stadium on Saturday night delivered a roar of disapproval in unison when referee Chris Kavanagh waved away strong first-half appeals for a penalty after Martin Odegaard handled the ball in Arsenal’s box.

Here’s why Arsenal’s skipper escaped any punishment, much to the vocal disdain of those in Anfield.

  • Why weren’t Liverpool given a penalty against Arsenal for Martin Odegaard’s handball?

Gabriel did his best to silence those on the red side of Stanley Park with a looped header after just three minutes as Arsenal took the lead with their 11th set-piece goal of the season.

Odegaard had swung in that inviting delivery but found himself in his own penalty area midway through the first half. Mohamed Salah beat Arsenal’s captain to the ball, wrong-footing Odegaard with a slight touch. In a desperate bid to readjust his positioning, Odegaard lost his footing and swatted the bouncing ball with his left hand, sparking widespread outrage.

The much-scrutinised Law 12 of the¬†FA handbook¬†stresses that “not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence”.

There’s no question that Odegaard accidentally touched the ball but intent is not a factor if a player “has made their body unnaturally bigger”. While Odegaard’s studs were stuck in the turf, it was his lowered arm that stopped the ball and Salah’s surge into Arsenal’s box.

However, no offence is committed if “the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation”.

This line of detail was brought in to prevent penalties for players touching the ball with the arm they are using to cushion their fall. Odegaard just about regains his balance but he does appear to move his hand to the turf to counteract his uneasy footing rather than punch the ball away. This, at least, is the judgment that referee Kavanagh must have come to when he made the split-second decision in real-time.

VAR David Coote either agreed with Kavanagh’s call, which is entirely possible, or did not deem it to be a “clear and obvious error”. The on-pitch official was not sent to the pitchside monitor for another look.

  • Reaction to Liverpool’s non-penalty against Arsenal

It’s safe to say that those in Stockley Park were in the minority. Some of the immediate reaction on social media ranged from quizzical…

For many, the non-decision sparked a near-existential crisis regarding the laws of what is supposedly a simple game.

What we know

  • Liverpool hosted Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday
  • Odegaard moved his hand to the ball in Arsenal’s box
  • No penalty was given and the referee was not directed over to the VAR monitor.

PGMOL reveal why Liverpool were not awarded a penalty following Martin Odegaard's handball in top of the table clash with Arsenal | Daily Mail Online

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