Some football fans were left confused during Arsenal’s FA Cup clash against Manchester City on Friday night after Bukayo Saka was flagged for offside, despite the fact the England international didn’t appear to be interfering with play.
This led to accusations on social media that match officials are biased towards Manchester United, whose forward Marcus Rashford was involved in a similar incident against City two weeks ago.
Many people were baffled when Bruno Fernandes’s equalising goal was allowed to stand, despite the fact that Rashford was clearly in an offside position as the ball rolled through to the Portuguese midfielder.
But because Rashford didn’t touch the ball, the goal was surprisingly allowed to stand following a controversial VAR review.
Man Utd went on to score another goal minutes later, wrapping up a 2-1 victory in the process.
Like Rashford, Saka deliberately didn’t touch the ball because he knew he was in an offside position.
But the assistant referee raised his flag and a free-kick was subsequently awarded to Man City, much to Saka’s bemusement.
Video: Bukayo Saka flagged for offside vs Man City
Watch the clip here:
Needless to say, some fans took this as evidence that match officials are more lenient towards Man Utd than they are with other clubs like Arsenal.
The reason why Bukayo Saka was flagged for offside
But ESPN’s Dale Johnson has explained why the Saka incident is different from Rashford’s.
He tweeted: “A few Arsenal fans complained at the decision to flag Bukayo Saka offside against Manchester City, because they felt he didn’t get involved.
“But, there’s actually a very simple explanation in law.”
Johnson continued: “Saka didn’t touch the ball, so he cannot be interfering with play. But he can be interfering with an opponent.
“The assistant thinks that Nathan Ake had to avoid the offside Saka to get to the ball, thus Saka had interfered with an opponent.
“Bit harsh, but there’s logic in law.”
So, there you have it. Saka wasn’t flagged for offside because match officials are biased against Arsenal.
Who would have thought it, eh?
Johnson added: “To touch on the Marcus Rashford in the derby.
“They are very different situations.
“[Manuel] Akanji’s problem was he never got within playing distance of the ball (as defined in law), and as such there’s an argument that Rashford could not have interfered with him (as defined in law).”
Arsenal lost to Man City in the FA Cup – a boost for the Gunners?
Arsenal went on to lost the FA Cup fourth round tie 1-0 after the aforementioned Ake scored the only goal of the game midway through the second half.
Still, getting knocked out the FA Cup may end up improving Arsenal’s chances of winning their first Premier League title since 2004.
The Gunners currently sit five points clear of second-placed City at the top of the table and have a game in hand over Pep Guardiola’s revered side.