Arsenal Premier League title blow emerges after Man City referee verdict given

Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola -Credit:2024 AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Manchester City's first penalty in their 5-1 win over Wolves last Saturday should not have stood, an independent panel has concluded.

Key refereeing decisions from each round of Premier League fixtures are reviewed by the Key Match Incident Panel (KMIP), which is made up of three former players or coaches, one Premier League representative and one from the PGMOL.

Looking back on the events of last weekend, the KMIP voted by a 3-2 majority that referee Craig Pawson wrongly awarded a spot-kick for Rayan Ait-Nouri's challenge on Josko Gvardiol. The pair collided inside the area, which appeared to be unintentional, though City were given a penalty to go 1-0 in the game and duly scored.

Explaining why this was the wrong call, the KMIP described the incident as a "coming together due to the normal actions of both players and the challenge is not reckless". All five individuals agreed VAR was correct not to intervene, however.

Two contentious calls in Arsenal's win over Bournemouth were also debated: the penalty awarded to Arsenal for a foul on Kai Havertz and the Cherries' disallowed goal.

Referee David Coote was supported 3-2 in his decision to penalise goalkeeper Mark Travers for bringing down Havertz. Those in support of Havertz argued "feet first, doesn't win the ball and fouls the attacker", with those disagreeing stating "Havertz leaves his leg in the challenge to initiate contact and has time to jump to evade the challenge".

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Coote's verdict that Dominic Solanke fouled David Raya before Antoine Semenyo fired into an empty net was also backed by a score of 3-2 panellists. Those in favour of the call remarked: "The attacker leans into the goalkeeper, briefly hooks round his arm and impacts the goalkeeper"; the two that disagreed countered "the degree of contact does not impact the goalkeeper's ability to continue with his action and clear the ball".

The panel voted 5-0 that VAR was correct not to intervene as it was not a "clear and obvious error" made by Coote.