Chelsea spared by VAR against Man Utd but Christensen still 'hates' handball rule

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Callum Hodson-Odoi Mason Greenwood Chelsea vs Man Utd Premier League 2020-21
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The Blues defender saw Callum Hudson-Odoi let off the hook in a meeting with the Red Devils, but he feels modern regulations have gone too far

Chelsea may have been spared by the intervention of VAR in their Premier League meeting with Manchester United, but Andreas Christensen admits to still hating the handball rule in modern football.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was let off the hook at Stamford Bridge on Sunday after referee Stuart Attwell was asked to review a first-half incident on a pitch-side monitor.

He determined that there had been no infringement in a coming together between Hudson-Odoi and Red Devils forward Mason Greenwood, despite protests from the visitors, and Christensen remains bemused as to why questions were asked in the first place.

What has been said?

The Danish defender has told Chelsea’s official website on the back of an eventful 0-0 draw: “I saw it and from my view it was their player [Greenwood] that touched it with the hand.

“I don’t know why they had to check it because it was quite obvious.

“I’m a defender so I hate that [handball] rule. If it wasn’t on purpose by either of them I think we should just leave it, especially when it’s not on goal, just in between two players not going anywhere.”

Why was there so much controversy?

The action in west London was stopped long after the incident in question had taken place, with Attwell forced to wait for a break in play before following up on instructions from Stockley Park.

He quickly determined that no penalty should be awarded, but players from both teams were in his ear during that decision-making process when they should have been nowhere near the screen.

United defender Luke Shaw then fanned the flames afterwards when claiming to have been told by Harry Maguire that the match officials had been keen to avoid another moment of controversy.

He told Sky Sports: “If it's not going to be a penalty, l don't think they needed to stop the game.

“The ref even said to H [Maguire] that if I say it is a pen then it is going to cause a lot of talk afterwards. H got told it was a penalty.

“I don't understand why the game is stopped. It's confusing with VAR.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd 2020-21

Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also got in on the act, pointing a finger of blame in the direction of Chelsea’s in-house media team when he said: “It’s all this outside influences, VAR talk before the game on Harry, cheeky when they put that on the website. That’s influencing referees. 

“You can read what they’re saying about Harry Maguire and putting pressure on referees to give penalties against us.

“We’ve seen there was a manager, was it Frank [Lampard], that started it. Loads of talk about us getting penalties when there’s no doubt, and of course today we should’ve had a penalty.”

The bigger picture

Handball rules in the Premier League have been tweaked on a regular basis.

Gone are the days when an infringement had to be “intentional” in order for a spot-kick to be awarded.

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Any touch of the ball with a hand was penalised in 2019-20 and early on this season, with some contentious decisions made by on-field referees and VAR teams.

An “unnatural position” is now the buzz phrase when it comes to handball calls, although even that continues to cause confusion and contradiction among players, coaches and officials.

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