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IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

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The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.

Villa manager Smith laments penalty as relegation woes continue

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Aston Villa’s hopes of a result at Leicester City went from possible to unlikely in a heartbeat, and the Villans’ day was laughable by the final whistle.

Dean Smith‘s men conceded a controversial penalty and then fell apart in a 4-0 loss to the third-place Foxes at King Power Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“Very tough night,” Smith said on NBCSN after the match. ” You don’t want to go and lose 4-0 anywhere. We started the game quite bright first 10 minutes but they had a lot of the ball. We made a big mistake for the goal. Going in at halftime and change a few things up.”

Then came the hour mark, as Smith was preparing a pair of attacking subs in search of an equalizer. As the reinforcements strode to the touchline, Villa defender Tyrone Mings blocked a Harvey Barnes cross with his shoulder and Leicester was awarded a penalty.

[ MORE: Vardy, Rodgers on Leicester win ]

“Second half they get a penalty. I didn’t even know what it was given for at the time. Obviously checked for handball. Looking back it hits his shoulder but it gets given, and they score and it becomes a bit of a basketball match. … We then became architects of our own downfall.”

That they did.

Villa was walloped on the day, and things don’t get any easier with Chelsea headlining a brutal run of fixtures. The club sits 19th, two points back of a trio of teams.

How can Smith and his crew find enough points to stay in the top flight?

“Being hard to beat,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to be coming here today. For periods we were. The scoreline, unfortunately, is a harsh reflection.”

Saint-Maximin magic leads Newcastle past 10-man Saints

Southampton v. Newcastle United recap and video highlights
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Allan Saint-Maximin‘s second-half solo goal helped Newcastle United find a way past 10-man Southampton 1-0 at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

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Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was brilliant in the loss, but sas his side slip a point and a place behind the Magpies.

Newcastle United now has 35 points and sits 13th. That’s good for eight points clear of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. VAR a big help for Newcastle: Southampton was down a man for more than an hour thanks to VAR, which asked referee Graham Banks to review his yellow card decision for a Djenepo stamp on Isaac Hayden. The referee saw fit to send off the Malian.

Newcastle would’ve been felt indebted to VAR when it spotted a clear handball in the box from Sofiane Boufal, but Matt Ritchie‘s penalty was well-saved by Alex McCarthy. Speaking of the keeper.

2. McCarthy keeps Saints alive: A fantastic triple save came before the Saints went down to 10 men, and McCarthy stayed hot with his penalty save on former Portsmouth man Ritchie. The saves kept coming until Valery’s error put the keeper to the sword.

3. Saint-Maximin is Newcastle’s life force: With respect to lively Miguel Almiron, the Magpies’ attack lives and dies with wing wizard Allan Saint-Maximin. The young Frenchman’s 4.3 dribbles per game is nearly triple that of his closest teammate (Almiron), and the Magpies are 1W-3D-7L when he doesn’t see the pitch.

Man of the Match: It would’ve been Shelvey in the first half, but his touch betrayed him in the second phase. Saint-Max is the man here, just over McCarthy.


The hosts surged out of the gates, a couple of corner kicks leading to a dangerous chance that Matt Ritchie blocked for Newcastle.

Alex McCarthy made three incredible saves for Saints after Jonjo Shelvey cued up Dwight Gayle for a chance and Miguel Almiron had two chances at rebounds.

Southampton then tested Martin Dubravka with a Yan Valery drive, but the goalkeeper was well-positioned to keep the match scoreless.

Moussa Djenepo then saw a yellow card for a stamp on Isaac Hayden, but VAR Peter Banks recommended that referee Graham Banks have another look at it. It became a red card.

McCarthy soon made an incredible save on a diving Gayle header, and the striker missed an ensuing chance wide off a Allan Saint-Maximin feed.

Jamaal Lascelles had the ball in the goal from a free kick but a raised linesman’s flag denied him.

VAR then awarded Newcastle a penalty when Sofiane Boufal handled the ball at the edge of the box. It was Newcastle’s first penalty of the year, and McCarthy did well to save Matt Ritchie.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saint-Maximin won a 52nd minute free kick on the left side of the box, but Shelvey’s pass was cleared away.

Hayden soon headed a corner kick wide of the goal.

Saint-Maximin put Valery under pressure before picking his pocket and rolling a ball under McCarthy, off the post, and into the goal.

Ancelotti avoids ban after VAR-inspired red card v. Man Utd

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Carlo Ancelotti has accepted his fate and will pay a fine for his red card following Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

The fine of approximately $10,000 will not be accompanied by a touch line ban, meaning Ancelotti will take his place in the dugout when the Toffees face his former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ancelotti was enraged when a stoppage-time match-winning own goal was pulled off the board. Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin saw his shot put into the United goal by Harry Maguire.

But Gylfi Sigurdsson remained prone on the pitch after De Gea saved his shot, and moved his feet out of the way to allow Calvert-Lewin’s rebound effort to slide inside the near post.

Ancelotti was shown a red by referee Chris Kavanagh after the final whistle for arguing his case.

“I didn’t disrespect the referee,” Ancelotti said after the game. “He knows this. But if I have to be banned, I will go to the stands at Stamford Bridge. It’s not a big problem, honestly.”

Seems just. Ancelotti didn’t appear to look any less angry or do anything more untoward than Pep Guardiola’s infamous hearty handshake following Man City’s loss to Liverpool in November.

Fernandes runs the show as Manchester United crushes Watford

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Bruno Fernandes scored a goal and helped set up two as Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Anthony Martial recorded United’s second goal with a magical finish off his own rebound after Fernandes sent him through on goal, while Mason Greenwood added a late goal after a 1-2 with the Portuguese.

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United is now fifth with 41 points, three points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Watford had a goal chalked off by VAR, and remains in the bottom three with 24 points. That’s one point off 17th and two off 16th.


Three things we learned

1. Bruno as advertised: There was no question Fernandes addressed a need for the Old Trafford set, but few would’ve seen the Portuguese revolutionizing the team’s attack so quickly (and also underlining how badly United has missed Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba). It’s not silly to say Fernandes could’ve had four assists on the day. Magnificent stuff from the 25-year-old. No surprise he has Cristiano Ronaldo’s endorsement.

2. Greenwood shows another glimpse: The Mason Greenwood hype train hasn’t been as pronounced as Marcus Rashford’s of years past, and we’re grateful for that. But his shoulder move and sick cut before dribbling 50 yards to combine with Fernandes on the third goal of the game was gorgeous stuff. More hope for the future.

3. This: It’s easy to forget the heights of which somewhat-mercurial Anthony Martial is capable.

Man of the Match: Fernandes had four key passes and was perfect in his take-ons and ground duels. Incredible show.


Poor communication between Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic sprung Troy Deeney toward goal, but United left back Luke Shaw saved his teammates further blushes with a block.

Abdoulaye Doucoure then ran onto a dummied Gerard Deulofeu pass but found himself closed down by David De Gea.

United should’ve been up through Wan-Bissaka when Foster parried a cross onto his path, but the English back struck the ball tamely into the outside of the goal.

Bruno Fernandes led a terrific 38th-minute move, and Daniel James eventually teed up Fred for a shot that curled wide of the goal.

The January signing danced past Ben Foster and hit the deck when the Watford goalkeeper went to ground. VAR stayed with the call on the field, and Fernandes finished well with a little hop step.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Deeney looked to have made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute, thumping a. ball into the top of the goal when a corner kick was turned off the post by Craig Dawson‘s arm. It was attached to his body, but that does not matter in the attacking box.

Martial instead made it 2-0 off a Fernandes feed, collecting his own rebound before dribbling Watford dizzy and spinning a chip into the goal.

Fernandes spotted Maguire with a seeing-eye cross in the 69th, but the defender’s header was poor.

Greenwood scored his goal in the 75th, carrying the ball 50 yards before working a 1-2 with Fernandes and finishing with aplomb.

Odion Ighalo came close to getting on the board for his new club against his old one, but Adam Masina deflected his shot off the post.