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Why VAR could not overturn Declan Rice’s handball in build up to penalty against Arsenal

The referee awarded a penalty, but some suspected foul play

VAR were unable to overturn Declan Rice’s potential handball that resulted in a penalty during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at the London Stadium because ‘it didn’t lead directly to a goal’, former referee Dermot Gallagher has revealed.

Mikel Arteta’s side raced into a 2-0 lead at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and were seemingly cruising until Thomas Partey tried to flick the ball over the oncoming Rice 25 yards from goal.

The West Ham man stole in and bundled the ball forwards, seemingly with a mixture of arm and midriff, passing it to Lucas Paqueta, who was then felled by Gabriel inside the penalty area.

While there were question marks over the penalty itself in some quarters, some Arsenal fans were keen to point to a possible handball by Rice in the build-up, questioning why VAR did not intervene and overturn the penalty.

Now, it has been explained that it was not possible for the assistant to do so, since the move did not directly result in a goal, and therefore VAR was unable to reccomend anything other than to stick with the onfield decision.

The penalty sparked a significant shift in the game, with West Ham going on to grab a second and ultimately a point well-earned against the Premier League leaders.

To ensure that they lift the Premier League at the end of the season, they will need to beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and win all of their other remaining games, including a tricky test at St James Park.

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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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