Speaking exclusively to The Transfer Tavern, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey discussed the penalty incident involving Reece James and Kieran Tierney in Arsenal’s win over Chelsea on Saturday.
In the fixture, Arsenal secured their first Premier League win since November 1st, as goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka were enough to see off Frank Lampard’s side, despite Tammy Abraham pulling a late goal back for the visitors and Jorginho’s even later penalty miss.
However, there was significant controversy surrounding Arsenal’s first goal in the match, when Michael Oliver pointed to the spot after Tierney found himself goalside of James in the Chelsea penalty area, before hitting the deck under very little contact.
“Had the referee not given it, I think it would have stayed not given,” Halsey told Transfer Tavern. “Now, James is the wrong side of him, so whenever when a forward player gets in front of a defender like that, going into the box, as a defender, you can’t get close to him, you’ve got to keep your distance.”
He continued: “So, any sort of contact then he’s going to go down, and you can’t blame him for going down because if he doesn’t go down then there’s no decision to make for the referee and we’ve seen players being fouled, staying on their feet and nothing [being] given.”
Do you honestly think James' challenge on Tierney was worthy on a penalty?
Whilst VAR did check the incident to determine whether or not the contact made by James on the Arsenal left-back was indeed enough for him to go down, it was eventually decided that the referee had not made a clear and obvious error in awarding the spot-kick.
And, Sky Sports duo Gary Neville and Alex Scott both appeared to feel that the Chelsea defender was in the wrong, despite agreeing that there was minimal contact, with Neville claiming that James should “should never have made the challenge,” while Scott stated that “once you get skipped by as a full-back like that, you almost have to let your ego go.”
So, all in all, it would appear that the general consensus is that James did indeed foul Tierney, however, this is not something that Mikel Arteta will likely be spending his time worrying about, as he can now concentrate on putting together a decent run of results at the Emirates Stadium, and moving Arsenal away from the bottom half of the Premier League table.
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