The Premier League is set to implement new rules next season, after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) made changes to the use of pitch-side monitors and also offered an explanation of which part of the arm can be penalised as handball.
Football’s law-making body has addressed a number of the controversial aspects of officiating the game, such as the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) and handball and penalty kick decisions.
Referees are likely to spend much more time looking at pitch-side monitors next season as a result.
Before now, officials in England depend on VAR officials to make decisions.
“Where a reviewable incident is subjective, the expectation is that the referee will undertake an ‘on-field review’,” the IFAB said in a statement.
“It was furthermore agreed that more insight into the decision-making process, for example access to the conversation between match officials during a review, would not be appropriate at this point, but that more effort should be made to enhance existing communication approaches to improve understanding of the review process and the referee’s final decision.”
IFAB has also provided a clarification on controversial ‘accidental’ handball decisions.
“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalised 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).
“For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit,” the statement added.
Another key change offers clarity on if a goalkeeper is deemed to come off their line, during the taking of a penalty kick.
From next season, a goalkeeper coming off the line will only lead to the retaking of a penalty if the initial kick is saved.
As such, penalties which miss the target will not be retaken even if the goalkeeper comes off the line.
The IFAB also confirmed that it is reviewing the offside law, with a view to making the margin of error greater and avoiding ‘armpit offsides’.
Chelsea cling on to win at Palace, Welbeck lifts Watford
Chelsea moved up to third in the Premier League
Frank Lampard’s men edged closer to sealing a place in next season’s Champions League as a seventh win in eight games takes them two points ahead of Leicester, who travel to Arsenal later on Tuesday, and opened up a five-point lead on fifth-placed Manchester United.
The Blues were fortunate when opening the scoring at Selhurst Park as former Chelsea captain Gary Cahill fell to the ground clutching his hamstring to allow Willian to tee up Olivier Giroud for his fourth goal in six games.
Chelsea have already stated their intent to move up a level next season and challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the title with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
Their arrival could have put Christian Pulisic’s place in the team under threat, but after an injury-disrupted start to his first season in England, the American is beginning to flourish.
Pulisic’s form has led to comparisons with Eden Hazard, the man he replaced at Stamford Bridge, and the Belgian would have been proud of Chelsea’s second as the 21-year-old skipped past Joel Ward and hammered in off the inside of the near post.
Chelsea looked to have sealed the three points again when substitutes Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham combined for the latter to restore a two-goal cushion 19 minutes from time.
Palace were back in the game when a brilliant move culminated in Patrick van Aanholt squaring for Christian Benteke to tap in just his second goal of the season.
Questions remain over whether the Chelsea defence will be strong enough to maintain a title challenge next season.
At the other end of the table, Welbeck’s first Premier League goal for Watford was as valuable as it was spectacular as the Hornets came from behind to secure their first win since ending Liverpool’s long unbeaten run in February.
The 2-1 defeat pushes Norwich ever closer to the drop as the Canaries are now 10 points adrift of safety with four games remaining.
Emiliano Buendia gave Daniel Farke’s men a dream start by curling past Ben Foster.
Like so much of his career, Welbeck’s first season at Watford has been blighted by injury. The former Manchester United and Arsenal forward showed his class by adjusting his body to hook home Ismaila Sarr’s deflected cross.
Lazio suffer title blow at Lecce as Patric sent off for biting
Lazio’s Serie A title dream suffered another setback on Tuesday with a shock 2-1 defeat.
The capital club, who lost 3-0 to Milan at the weekend, were only one point behind defending champions Juve when the Italian top flight resumed last month following the coronavirus lockdown.
Maurizio Sarri’s Juve have the chance to take a giant step closer to a ninth straight Serie A title later on Tuesday.
Defender Patric added to Lazio’s problems in injury time as he was dismissed for biting Lecce’s Giulio Donati.
Lecce ended a six-match losing streak in dramatic fashion to climb out of the relegation zone, one point clear of 18th-placed Genoa, who host Napoli on Wednesday.
Lazio were without strikers Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo through suspension against Milan, but despite the pair’s return they struggled to create many clear-cut chances.
The away side got the better of a dramatic start to the match though, as Lecce midfielder Marco Mancosu saw his stunning long-range strike in only the third minute ruled out by VAR for a handball earlier in the move, before Lazio took the lead a minute later.
Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel mishit a clearance under pressure from Immobile, and although he saved Marco Parolo’s initial effort, Caicedo was on hand to slot in the rebound.
But the hosts continued to threaten and grabbed a deserved equaliser on the half-hour mark when Senegalese forward Khouma Babacar nodded home Filippo Falco’s cross.
Lazio survived a massive scare on the stroke of half-time as Lecce were awarded a penalty for a controversial handball against Patric, but Mancosu spooned his spot-kick over the crossbar.
Visiting coach Simone Inzaghi threw on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as one of three changes at half-time in a desperate bid to keep Lazio’s title hopes alive, only for them to fall behind shortly after the break.
Mancosu saw another effort from outside the box deflected over, but Lecce centre-back Fabio Lucioni headed in the resulting corner to give the home team a shock lead.
Lazio almost slipped further behind, but again Mancosu was denied a goal by a brilliant Thomas Strakosha save from point-blank range.
The second-placed outfit managed to exert some late pressure, but substitute Bobby Adekanye’s header was tipped over by Gabriel.
Patric’s moment of madness came in the third minute of added time when he bit Donati on the arm and could now face a lengthy ban, especially with the strict Covid-19 regulations in place.
There was still time for Gabriel to save from Milinkovic-Savic and for Caicedo to have a penalty appeal turned down, but Lecce held on.
Vardy’s late strike earns Leicester point at Arsenal
Jamie Vardy salvaged a much-needed point for Leicester in their quest to claim a place in next season’s Champions League in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Tuesday dominated by VAR reviews.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike gave the Gunners a well-deserved first half lead. Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes when substitute Eddie Nketiah was shown a straight red card after a lengthy VAR review.
Leicester made the most of the man advantage as Vardy slotted home from Demarai Gray’s cross. But also had a nervous wait before the goal was awarded as VAR checked for offside.
Despite the late rally, Leicester have now won just once in six games since the restart to the season and drop to fourth after Chelsea won 3-2 at Crystal Palace earlier on Tuesday.
Manchester United can close to within one point of the Foxes if their scintillating form continues at Aston Villa on Thursday.
Arsenal’s own chances of a top-four finish appear gone as they remain nine points adrift in seventh.
But after a poor start to English football’s restart with back-to-back defeats at Manchester City and Brighton, there were more promising signs from Mikel Arteta’s men as his reign at the Emirates begins to take shape.
Bukayo Saka has flourished since Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December and the 18-year-old was again at the heart of an excellent first 45 minutes from Arsenal.
Saka created the opening goal as he latched onto a defence-splitting pass from the outstanding Dani Ceballos and teased Jonny Evans into falling over his own feet before laying Aubameyang’s 20th Premier League goal of the season on a plate.
But for Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal, the hosts would have been out of sight before half-time as the Danish number one produced an incredible low save to deny Alexandre Lacazette in between further smart stops from the French striker and Saka.
After weathering the Arsenal storm, Leicester felt aggrieved not to go in level at half-time when Kelechi Iheanacho was penalised for a soft foul before he tapped in Vardy’s cross and this time VAR offered no assistance to the visitors.
Iheanacho was denied by Emiliano Martinez, who produced another impressive performance in the Arsenal goal since stepping in for the injured Bernd Leno, before Vardy failed to connect properly with a great chance.
Arsenal were far less potent as an attacking force after the break, but Lacazette’s frustrating night in front of goal was rounded off when he did turn in from David Luiz’s flick-on only to be flagged offside.
Seconds after Lacazette was replaced by Eddie Nketiah, the Gunners were down to 10 when the young striker’s late lunge on James Justin was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Chris Kavanagh after he came to the side of the pitch to review the incident.
Rodgers immediately threw on an extra attacking option in Gray and his cross was the service Vardy had been seeking all night as turned home to regain his two-goal advantage over Aubameyang in the race for the Golden Boot.
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