Liverpool had a case for a penalty in the first half against Arsenal, but VAR’s explanation for why Martin Odegaard’s handball was not punished is not easy to believe.
One of the big talking points to emerge from the 1-1 draw against Arsenal was Liverpool’s strong claims for a penalty early in the second half.
Mohamed Salah instantly reacted as Odegaard made direct contact with the ball with his hand, clearly moving to make the illegal block and looking guilty as sin in the immediate aftermath.
The Reds called for a penalty, but on-field referee Chris Kavanagh made no moves to intervene and neither did VAR, which coincidentally was manned by David Coote – who has had several incidents with Jurgen Klopp along the years.
As part of Sky Sports’ coverage, presenter David Jones informed us of VAR’s attempt at an explanation, which was: “They feel like Odegaard’s hand is moving back towards his body as he goes down.”
Odegaard went full LeBron. How is this not a penalty? pic.twitter.com/qsG0CmZfwv
— DB (@Kloppholic) December 23, 2023
Quite how Coote interpreted Odegaard’s movements as going towards his body and not the ball is rather baffling, there are few more obvious hand to ball movements than that from the Arsenal skipper.
It was blatant, and that Coote did not even ask Kavanagh to take a look at the screen is beyond us – we have seen less been awarded this season, Odegaard was practically playing basketball.
VAR’s explanation is an interesting interpretation of events and you sense there will be few who take the same view, and understandably so.
Klopp was one of them, saying to Sky Sports: “I’m pretty sure somebody will explain it to me, why it wasn’t a handball. But I don’t know how.
“I don’t say the ref can’t see it, but when somebody sits in his office, how can you not come to the conclusion – it might maybe worth having another look at it?”
It was a huge moment in the match and another farcical decision in a season full of them.