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Mark Halsey says Saka penalty was “a tough decision and could have gone either way”

Chelsea and Arsenal played an interesting match Friday night at Stamford Bridge, with the Gunners winning 4-2 and gaining three crucial points in their bid to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

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The Blues’ defense had a bad night at the Bridge, as they couldn’t deal with Arsenal’s counter-attacks, which made Thomas Tuchel furious after the game, as he told Sky Sports: “We scored five goals and lost 4-2. Three own goals, two ordinary goals for us, and one Arsenal goal.”

Many of the goals were avoidable, most notably Arsenal’s fourth, in which Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta gave away an unnecessary penalty.

Saka made the first touch with the defender, who then held the 20-year-old until the winger went down, which referee Jon Moss ruled as a foul.

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey provided his insights exclusively to Caught Offside to assist explain Jon Moss’ reasoning behind his judgement.

“It’s a difficult choice. Obviously, Saka and Azpilicueta are fighting for the ball, and I believe Saka makes the first contact with the Chelsea captain. You can see he’s got a grasp of his arm, which prevents him from getting on the right side since he’s definitely blindsided of him, there’s a little bit of holding going on, then Saka falls.”

“It’s one of those; it’s subjective, and just because the ball is nowhere near Saka and goes behind him doesn’t mean a penalty can’t be awarded.”

“VAR won’t get involved in that circumstance because it’s subjective,” Halsey noted, adding, “I don’t think that a review would have been advised had Jon Moss not given the penalty since I think Saka initiates the contact in the first place.” Also, if Jon Moss sees it and then awards the foul to Chelsea, it will not be reversed, which is why VAR has not been called in because it is not a clear and evident error by the onfield referee.”

“It’s a difficult judgment that could have gone anyway,” said the former referee.

Moss had to make a difficult decision, but Azpilicueta should not have put himself in that position in the first place. Why didn’t the Chelsea captain let go after Saka grabbed him after Cedric’s cross went behind the 20-year-old?

It may not have mattered in the end because Arsenal was already 3-2 up, but it’s football, and you never know what can happen until the final whistle is blown.

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