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Guardiola: ‘Ask the referees, don’t ask me’ about handball non-call

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“Ask the referees, don’t ask me.”

That’s how Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola dismissed talk of the uncalled Trent Alexander-Arnold handball that came moments before Liverpool scored its wonderful opener in a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.

“Ask Mike Riley and the guys in VAR,” he said. “I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good. It was one of the best performances we have played.”

[ MORE: Match recap | JPW’s 3 things from Anfield ]

The relative calm was a massive departure from how Guardiola left the pitch after a second, less intriguing handball shout to Alexander-Arnold after City had cut the three-goal lead to two.

Waving his hands frantically with two fingers raised on the touch line before sarcastically shaking Michael Oliver’s hand after the game, Guardiola struck two very different figures in a short period of time.

Guardiola went on to laud both teams for their performances.

Although we think he liked his team’s performance a bit more than he should — the last pass/decision was not where it usually is — City did have more possession, more shots, better passing, and won the aerial battle.

“We played like back-to-back champions. We cannot deny how good Liverpool are but the way we played, the personality, it was good.

“It was quite similar to the Champions League game. It was an incredible situations in that game too but the performance today was so good. Always we try, never give up that is why we are back-to-back champions. Always fight until the end.

“It is important to grow as a club and as a team. It was an honor for both team to show Premier League to spectators this type of game.”

Emery fumes at VAR decision, Xhaka’s reaction to jeers

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Unai Emery had plenty of reasons to be angry after Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead and saw a goal taken off the board at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners drew Crystal Palace 2-2 after going up via goals by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz in the first nine minutes of play.

[ MORE: Match recap, 3 things ]

Sokratis looked to have solved the Palace defense late, but VAR saw a seemingly phantom foul from Calum Chambers in the build-up that left many — hand raised — questioning what just happened.

From Football.London:

“We need to respect the decision, which was amazing,” Emery said. “Last match here against Bournemouth, they didn’t check for a clear penalty on Pepe and at Sheffield on Sokratis. … VAR is positive but at the moment it is not working well. I think we deserved to win this evening. Only I can be disappointed about not controlling the match better.”

Another moment that might’ve had Emery fuming was Granit Xhaka‘s departure in the 60th minute.

The captain was jeered by the home fans as he walked off for a substitute, motioning to and cussing at the Emirates Stadium faithful.

“He was wrong,” Emery said. “We need to stay calm, speak to him internally about that. We are working with the club and the players to play under pressure … We are going to speak with him because the reaction was wrong. We are here because we have supporters. We work for them and need to have respect for them when they are applauding us and criticizing us.”

More to come there, for sure, given the tempestuous relationship between the Swiss midfielder and his club’s supporters.

Liverpool equalizes, denied history by Manchester United

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Adam Lallana‘s late goal denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a statement win as Liverpool came back to take a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford scored the goal, which was upheld by VAR despite a seeming foul in the build-up, while VAR also took a Liverpool goal off the board for handball.

Liverpool was bidding to move to 9-0 on the Premier League season by claiming its ninth-straight away league win and 18th consecutive win overall, but they’ll take the point.

Liverpool leads the league with 25 points, six more than Man City, while United rises 14th with 10 points.


Three stars of the match

1. Marcus Rashford — He didn’t look right over the first 20 minutes, but kept working until he found the opening goal. The effort didn’t stop there, as he managed four successful dribbles and wasn’t credited with a single time dispossessed.

2. Adam Lallana — Jurgen Klopp‘s 71st minute sub scored his first goal since May 2017, coming off the bench and slipping behind United’s defense to punish with an equalizer.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Credit where it’s due, especially when we’ve been critical of the Manchester United boss, but Liverpool never found an answer for the Red Devils’ back three. Perhaps more credit to Solskjaer for not going away from it when Axel Tuanzebe went down in warm-ups.

Honorable mention: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fabinho, Scott McTominay, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

United held the ball for much of the first 10 minutes, but didn’t bother Alisson Becker.

The Reds, on the other hand, saw a 13th minute dribble and shot from Georginio Wijnaldum turn into a David De Gea save.

Cagey and tight, the next shot on target was a 25th minute low effort from Scott McTominay to Alisson.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was probably the best player on the pitch in the opening half hour, and saw a strong cross cut out by Virgil Van Dijk in the 28th.

Joel Matip spotted a streaking Sadio Mane for a lightning counter out of nothing, but Divock Origi couldn’t make much out of Mane’s feed and De Gea collected the shot.

That’s when United took its lead with one of two first half goals to go to VAR.

Rashford got on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch. A foul if it’s called, but it wasn’t and VAR did not overrule it.

Mane then had a goal chalked off for a handball, VAR catching a touch most refs wouldn’t.

Liverpool took hold of the game shortly after halftime, but physical United continued its tight marking and heavy tackling.

Daniel James was waylaid on a 50/50 ball with Fabinho and play questionably went on as James lay on the turf with an apparent head injury.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a deflected effort go wide in the 64th, as Jurgen Klopp took off Divock Origi and tried to find an answer to United’s back three.

The next sub was Adam Lallana for Jordan Henderson, as Liverpool had 20 minutes plus stoppage to find an equalizer.

He was the difference maker, as Robertson’s cross bounded through a sea of United defenders to meet him at the back post.

Rodgers not too bothered by VAR as Leicester City back in Top Four

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.

The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]

Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).

Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.

“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”

As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.

Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.

“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”

Pochettino says VAR call inspired Leicester; Twitter has knives out

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Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]

Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.

Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.

“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”

He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.

“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.