Howard Webb admits Michael Oliver 'misread' key moment in Tottenham vs Arsenal

Son Heung-Min with Referee Michael Oliver during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Referees chief Howard Webb has conceded that Michael Oliver 'should be really disappointed' for not spotting a clear penalty in the heated Tottenham vs Arsenal clash.

As the North London Derby edged towards its conclusion with Arsenal leading 3-1, a controversial moment arose when Declan Rice's attempted clearance brought down Ben Davies, prompting calls for a penalty which Oliver initially dismissed. Despite the on-field decision, VAR official Jarred Gillett intervened, recommending Oliver to review the incident at the pitchside monitor.

After reassessing the situation, Oliver reversed his call and awarded Tottenham a much-needed penalty, which Son Heung-min duly converted, narrowing Arsenal's lead. The Gunners managed to cling on for a victory that could be pivotal in their quest for the title.

Reflecting on the incident, Webb acknowledged Oliver's oversight: "I know Michael [Oliver] will be really disappointed. He had a really good game. He's one of our top referees, he's one of the top referees in the world," he said on Match Officials Mic'd Up.

"He's been selected for the Euros in Germany this summer, together with seven other English officials, and he had a really, really good game in the way he managed it. But I know you'll be disappointed he misread that in the moment and we all can misread things in the moment.

"I did that many times myself. But thankfully we've got VAR that can look at these situations very quickly. You'll hear Jarred Gillett at the VAR check it, stop the game in a neutral zone so nothing else can happen.

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"For example, we don't want a goal scored at the other end and then having to take that away as well. Stop the game as soon as possible. Michael went to the screen, looked at it, quickly saw the error and gave a penalty. And as you say, without VAR this would have stayed as a non-awarded penalty. It would have been hugely controversial. So a really good use of the VAR facility here."

Webb's reaction to Oliver's error is not surprising, given Manchester United legend Gary Neville was left in shock that the referee had not awarded Spurs a spot-kick straight away.

"Oh that's a penalty. I thought it was a penalty. I thought it was a certain penalty, my initial reaction. I may be wrong, I often am, but let's have a look. That's a penalty - that is a stonewall penalty. Do not get this wrong, VAR," he said in commentary for Sky Sports.

"He's just kicked him, hasn't he? He's stopped the game - yep, it's a penalty. I'm surprised that Michael Oliver gets it wrong in the first place, to be honest with you. This is a big moment because things are going to get a little bit scary for Arsenal if this ends up in the back of the net."

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