Ref Watch: Robin Koch and Gabriel – how new handball law works

In this week’s Ref Watch, Dermot Gallagher analyses and explains the new protocols for the handball law as he reviews some key decisions on the opening weekend.

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Dermot joined Rob Wotton on Sky Sports News for his weekly review of the big decisions.

Liverpool 4-3 Leeds

INCIDENT: Mohamed Salah’s strike deflects up off Robin Koch’s knee onto his arm. Referee Michael Oliver is well placed and awards the penalty kick.

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VERDICT: When this happened with Trent Alexander-Arnold last season when the Premier League has a low threshold for handball, everyone was saying ‘it’s handball’ but here’s a carbon copy. The rule makers came out and said pre-season that the extended arm will be penalised and the arm above the shoulder will be penalised. It’s ricocheted off his knee so it’s unlucky – the caveat rule for a deflection has gone – but his arm is outstretched to stop the ball going forward. It’s a penalty.

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

INCIDENT: Gabriel rises easily above Michael Hector to meet Willian’s wicked corner, the ball going in off the defender’s shoulder. Under new handball rules, the goal stood, but would have likely been disallowed last season.

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VERDICT: Everyone accepts that this a good goal. Perhaps last season it would have been disallowed. It does come off his shoulder but in the new guidance that’s above the armpit. The ball must now strike the arm below the shoulder, or the cap of the sleeve to be handball. The goal was rightly given.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton

INCIDENT: Referee Jon Moss shows Kyle Walker-Peters a straight red card for a high studs challenge on Tyrick Mitchell only for the original decision to be overturned having consulted the pitch side monitor with the foul downgraded to a booking.

VERDICT: This was the biggest bonus on Saturday. The referee has seen the high boot and studs make contact, he thinks it’s a red card. Craig Pawson in the VAR has been brilliant to advise Moss to go and have a look. It’s taken just one minute and 53 seconds to overturn it. It’s a reckless challenge but not a red card. It’s a massive step forward. I think we’ll see the referees go over there more often. When the referee goes over to check a major decision it sits better with everybody as he has taken ownership of the decision.

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