Norwich City’s boss Chris Hughton questions how Arsenal penalty decision is made
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton warned the game is straying into dangerous territory if assistant referees can exert so much influence on Premier League matches.
Hughton's main gripe after the Gunners' 3-1 comeback win centred on how Arsenal's 85th minute equalising penalty could be awarded by an official four times further away from the contentious incident than referee Mike Jones.
The Norwich City chief maintained after watching the tussle Jones had an unobstructed view of the grappling between Kei Kamara and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud yet opted to defer to his far-side assistant.
'A linesman that has made a decision from 45-50 yards away has got two other key decisions wrong that are five to 10 yards away – on the corner that led to the penalty and the offside on the third goal,' said Hughton. 'The same linesman doesn't see the offside for the third goal and he is 10 yards away. It is almost criminal. I find it incredible. It's not as if the referee's view was blocked (on the penalty). He had an absolutely clear view of it. If linesmen are going to make decisions from 40, 50 yards it is going to be a real tough game.
'The penalty is a judgment call. You have to get a feel of the game. The ref is that close, he's the one that has the real feel. There's always tugging and pushing and there's a bit of a shirt pull and I won't say there isn't some contact there, there is. But Kei also swivels and plays the ball in that same movement. No Arsenal players appealed and that's what's frustrating. I think you'll see a lot of those not given.'
Hughton was adamant the pivotal penalty incident evolved from a corner awarded in error to the Gunners, after the same assistant ruled Robert Snodgrass had shepherded the ball over his own byline. The City boss, however, was less inclined to re-ignite the debate for greater technological assistance.
'My first thoughts were it wasn't a corner in the first place. I haven't see a close up angle, but that is my feeling,' he said. 'I have always felt those things have to be done incredibly slowly. I accept goal line technology but perhaps I am a little bit old fashioned in that way. My issue is once you start delving outside of goal line technology then where do you stop? Probably at the moment it is not something I am desperate to push, but with the money in the game I am sure it will come eventually.
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'On the day the decisions have gone against us. I didn't think anything at the time watching the penalty incident because sometimes you get reactions from the players, but there was none. When I saw the linesman cross his flag I knew he was giving it. I find that incredible.'
Arsene Wenger's post-match words of encouragement regarding Norwich's survival prospects came as cold comfort to his counterpart.
'The margins are so small,' said Hughton. 'We have found it difficult. We've been in most games and we've had a really good period. We went 10 games unbeaten and are we playing dramatically different to then? No, things just go your way. We find it a bit more difficult to score goals, but we have five games left and we need to make sure that we get the good things out of the games and get the points we need.'