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'No way': Michael Owen on Tottenham-Southampton controversy, Dermot Gallagher responds

Michael Owen thinks Tottenham Hotspur were ‘harshly’ treated on Saturday and Pape Matar Sarr shouldn’t have been punished for his actions that led to Southampton being awarded a stoppage-time penalty.

With minutes left on the clock and relegation-threatened Southampton chasing an equaliser, Sarr, who had come on as a substitute, was just about to pull the trigger and clear the ball away before Ainsley Maitland-Niles got ahead of his man, he was caught, went down and a penalty was awarded.

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher thinks that he saw ‘nothing’ to suggest that the on-field call should have been overturned by VAR, but Michael Owen was adamant that there was ‘no way’ enough contact for the Arsenal loanee to go down, and then enough contact to award the spot-kick.

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In the end, VAR backed up Simon Hooper’s call, James Ward-Prowse stepped up, and despite the huge pressure, he rifled the ball into the back of the net to secure a much-needed point for his team.

That might just prove to be a crucial moment, not just in the fight for relegation, but also in the race to secure Champions League football.

Either way, whilst Antonio Conte stole the post-match headlines for his outburst, that penalty call was controversial and Owen wasn’t having any of it, as he told MatchDay Extra on Premier League Productions (18/03/23 at 8:05 pm).

“I thought it was a soft decision, to be honest,” said Owen. “I don’t think there was enough contact. We have seen a couple of penalties like this given. 

“No question, he (Maitland-Niles) gets there first, then he prods the ball away. But it’s not under control. I don’t see enough, if any, to knock him off his feet and then give him a penalty. I think it’s harsh. 

“No way there is enough (contact). If he does catch him, then it’s a very slight glance. There is no way, the force of that touch, is enough to take him down and knock him off his feet. We are getting to a stage now where everyone says ‘Oh, he’s touched him, so it’s a penalty’. A touch has never been a penalty, that’s what not the rules say. You can’t say ‘there is enough force in that to take his legs and swipe him off his feet. It’s ridiculous.”

Dermot Gallagher: “You are right, just because there is contact, it doesn’t make it a foul and it doesn’t make it a penalty. But I think the referee is so close. He has got the best view. He knows how much contact there is. I have seen it on the VAR. He has definitely caught him. He thinks it’s a penalty. There is nothing I can say to say it’s not a penalty because the picture does show that he does make contact. I can’t argue with him.” 

Former referee Dermot Gallagher (Reuters)

TOTTENHAM LET SLIP

That penalty might have been a bigger talking point if Conte didn’t go off on one during his post-match interview where he blamed the whole world about everything, but himself.

Prior to joining Spurs, many knew that the Italian had a feisty side to him and he can be outspoken.

But his rant over the weekend is one that will go into the Premier League Hall of Fame because it was epic and one that could see him booed out of the door by Daniel Levy.

In other news, Martin Odegaard claims two Arteta signings have brought ‘different thinking’ to Arsenal

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