Exclusive: Mark Halsey has his say on the Erik Pieters ‘handball’ incident

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Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has offered his opinion on the decision not to award Arsenal a penalty in their 1-1 draw with Burnley over the weekend. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring at Turf Moor, but Mikel Arteta’s men were pegged back just before half time after Chris Wood capitalised on a Granit Xhaka mistake.

The result leaves the Gunners lying in 10th position in the Premier League standings and nine points behind Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.

However, things could be looking more positive for the north London outfit had they been awarded a penalty when the ball struck Burnley defender Erik Pieters’ arm inside his 18-yard box.

Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe appeared to flick the ball up onto the Dutchman’s outstretched arm, but no foul was given by Andre Marriner, a decision the VAR failed to recommend a review of.

Speaking exclusively to This is Futbol, Halsey was asked for his opinion on the incident. In response, he had this to say on the matter.

Halsey said: “Now, if you look at the (Erik) Pieters one, okay, the distance between the player and the ball, it wasn’t far, but there was no pace on the ball. There was no pace on the ball. Were his arms in an unnatural position? Yes, they were. Did he move his arms towards the ball? Yes, he did. So that constitutes, in my opinion, a deliberate act, a deliberate handball.

But I was just amazed that Kevin Friend in Stockley Park did not recommend that review. For me, that was a clear and obvious error. And for me, that was a clear, clear handball.”

In our view, Halsey is spot on with his assessment of this one. Law 12 states that it is an offence if a player touches the ball with their hand/arm when their hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger.

Therefore, the decision not to award a penalty after the ball had struck Pieters’ arm appears to be an incorrect one, and Arsenal have every right to feel hard done by.

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