Rio Ferdinand claimed that Granit Xhaka’s long-range Arsenal strike was offside in a rant at multiple decisions in the defeat for Manchester United.
The Gunners gave their Premier League top-four hopes a massive boost with a 3-1 win over United on Saturday. The hosts went 2-0 up but, could have been 3-0 up had Eddie Nketiah not had a goal ruled out for offside.
Cristiano Ronaldo set the second half up perfectly by making it 2-1 after 34 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes had the chance to equalise, but his penalty hit the post. And Arsenal midfielder Xhaka subsequently made it 3-1 with a strike from the outside of the box.
However, there was controversy over the Switzerland midfielder’s goal. The ball went past Nketiah and Victor Lindelof on the way in. Man Utd goalkeeper David de Gea leaned round the pair, making his dive the other way to make the save harder.
Speaking to BT Sport, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown lauded Xhaka for his strike. He added that “you could say De Gea there can’t see it.”
And Ferdinand cut in: “He’s offside. I think it’s a great strike, don’t get me wrong, but if you go back to that shot where De Gea’s looking round the player, surely he’s [Nketiah] interfering with play?” he said.
“He’s standing in an offside position, the striker, De Gea leans round him, it’s got to be given [offside].”
Keown made the point that it was not only Nketiah who was blocking De Gea’s line of sight, with United defender Lindelof there too.
But Ferdinand again claimed: “The first player in front of him was Nketiah – the Arsenal player, who’s offside.”
Ferdinand then rubbished Keown’s defence of Nketiah that the England Under-21 international is not getting to the ball.
And the ex-United defender felt his former side should feel aggrieved with more decisions.
The ball struck Cedric Soares’ hand as he tried to get back to his feet, with Jadon Sancho advancing into the box.
Ferdinand frustrated by Man Utd decisions
As former referee Peter Walton was explaining the law – that it is not handball if a player is falling over and the ball strikes their arm or hand – Ferdinand again cut in.
“No, come on man, please,” he said. “He’s not trying to prevent himself from falling. He’s trying to stay up to keep himself going to stay alongside play so he can be an obstacle.
“If he was falling, he puts one hand down then falls over. Why start clawing the floor?”
There was also debate as to whether the incident took place outside the box or if it could have been a penalty. Ferdinand insisted that it was inside the box, but Keown disagreed.
Ferdinand concluded: “Today I thought the referee and VAR got far more wrong than they did get right.”
Contrasting Man Utd, Arsenal fortunes
Nevertheless, the result caps vastly contrasting fortunes this week for Man Utd and Arsenal.
United’s top-four hopes are now all-but over after two defeats in a row. Indeed, they also lost 4-0 to Liverpool on Tuesday.
However, Arsenal are firmly in the hunt again after three defeats on the spin of late. Their latest 3-1 win came after a 4-2 victory at Chelsea on Wednesday.
United go to Chelsea on Thursday, while Arsenal play West Ham next Sunday.