Arsenal v Norwich City - Premier League

Talking about the controversial call in Arsenal-Norwich City

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So much of the focus on a controversial call Saturday at the Emirates – indeed one that could shape the ongoing fortunes of two clubs – was about the wrong element of this big EPL moment.

The voices of TV land seemed obsessed with which official made the big call Saturday. Norwich City’s Kei Kamara grabbed a handful of Olivier Giroud’s jersey. Referee Mike Dean was nearby but appeared content allowing play to move on. Controversy raged when the referee’s assistant, standing further away, raised a flag that would change the match – and those fortunes, potentially.

It was a huge contest for both sides. Arsenal is desperate to hold its current spot in the table and get back into Champions League. Norwich is out of drop zone danger for now, but the relegation reaper follows a bit too close for comfort at present. The visitors were ahead, 1-0, at the time, and three points for Norwich in North London would have been immense in keeping the Canaries in EPL survival grace.

But Dean’s whistle blew. Mikel Arteta converted the pressure shot and Arsenal went on to bury a frustrated and distracted bunch, 3-1.

So, back to Dean’s decision:

Many words were said about the referee’s assistant essentially making this call. It was a bit unusual, so that element surely deserves mention. (Although the way I see the angles and sight lines at work, the referee’s assistant did have a better vantage point to see the actual infraction.)

It’s hardly unprecedented for an RA to wave his flag when spotting a law violation inside the 18. Either way, was it the correct call or not? That’s what everyone should be talking about.

Kamara absolutely had a big handful of Arsenal jersey. Did he impede a shooting opportunity for Giroud? You could probably make a case either way. The huge former Sporting KC man did pull Giroud to the ground, no doubt about it.

It was the right call. It wasn’t the clearest penalty kick ever – but it was the correct call.

For all we know, the referee was pondering the decision, rapidly, in real time, and spotting a raised flag confirmed it in his mind.

If you disagree, fine. But can we agree to disagree about the right thing, at least? Who made the decision is less relevant. We should just be talking about getting the calls right.

Newcastle’s Krul on crutches after injury in Dutch win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Tim Krul of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.

Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.

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Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.

Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.

The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.

McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.