The Rulebook: Why Arsenal’s opening goal vs Everton was ruled out

The Gunners could have taken the lead midway through the first half only for the offside flag to deny them

Football fans were left confused during the game at Goodison Park after Gabriel Martinelli saw a goal ruled out for offside in the first half of Arsenal’s 1-0 win.

Martinelli thought he had opened the scoring when he fired home from a tight angle midway through the first half, only for VAR to deem Eddie Nketiah offside earlier in the move, despite the fact that he had picked the ball up from a deflection off Toffees striker Beto.

It left plenty confused as to just why the goal hadn’t been allowed to stand following a VAR review. So, we took a look at what the FA have to say about it.

As per the FA’s rulebook:

“A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately played* the ball, including by deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate save by any opponent.

*’Deliberate play’ (excluding deliberate handball) is when a player has control of the ball with the possibility of:

  • passing the ball to a team-mate;
  • gaining possession of the ball; or
  • clearing the ball (e.g. by kicking or heading it)

If the pass, attempt to gain possession or clearance by the player in control of the ball is inaccurate or unsuccessful, this does not negate the fact that the player ‘deliberately played’ the ball.”

Clearly, the VAR official at Stockley Park deemed that Beto did not deliberately play the ball, due to the fact that the striker never had control of the ball, despite the Everton man deliberately but unsuccessfully attempting to block the ball.

Another issue was the perceived camera angle for the offside decision, but like with Alejandro Garnacho’s effort against Arsenal before the international break, the camera’s had been calibrated to mitigate the issue of the poor angle from which the lines were drawn.

In the end, the issue was elementary thanks to a second-half strike from Leandro Trossard, which handed Arsenal their first three points at Goodison Park since 2017 and helped them keep pace with the sides atop the Premier League, moving level on points with Liverpool and Tottenham and two points behind Manchester City.

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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