The reason Bukayo Saka was flagged offside despite not interfering vs Man City but Marcus Rashford wasn’t


Many football lovers were left seething after Bukayo Saka was flagged offside against Manchester City despite the fact the England international didn’t appear to be interfering with play.

Supports and pundits fiercely debated the decision to allow Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser to stand in the Manchester derby earlier this month, despite Rashford being in an offside position in the build-up.

However, Saka was flagged offside in a similar incident against Manchester City on Friday night, despite no goal coming from the attack.

Saka started for the Gunners in the FA Cup fourth round defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium, where Nathan Ake popped up with the winner in the second half.

The England international struggled to replicate his recent form and was largely anonymous in the game, with Ake keeping him very quiet.

But both Saka and Arsenal supporters were not happy in the first half when the linesman raised his flag during a Gunners attack.

Like Rashford, Saka deliberately didn’t touch the ball because he knew he was in an offside position.

But the assistant referee raised his flag and a free-kick was subsequently awarded to Man City, much to Saka’s bemusement.

Some fans took this as evidence that match officials are more lenient towards Man Utd than they are with other clubs like Arsenal.

One wrote: “What the hell was that lino flagging Saka offside for? Didn’t go for the ball, didn’t get the ball, stopped a genuine counter attack.”

Another agreed: “Saka was flagged for offside after making no attempt to interfere with play or win the ball, yet Marcus Rashford wasn’t flagged for Bruno’s goal in the Manchester Derby… Make it make sense.”

A third stated: “These refs simply don’t know the rules, how was that offside on Saka.”

A fourth commented: “Saka given offside for not being involved in an attacking play smh. Atrocious officiating in this country.”

A fifth weighed in: “Very odd how the offside rule changed tonight. Saka not involved with play like Rashford was.”

The reason why Bukayo Saka was flagged for offside

But ESPN’s Dale Johnson has explained why the Saka incident is different from Rashford’s.

He tweeted: “A few Arsenal fans complained at the decision to flag Bukayo Saka offside against Manchester City, because they felt he didn’t get involved.

“But, there’s actually a very simple explanation in law.”

Johnson continued: “Saka didn’t touch the ball, so he cannot be interfering with play. But he can be interfering with an opponent.

“The assistant thinks that Nathan Ake had to avoid the offside Saka to get to the ball, thus Saka had interfered with an opponent.

“Bit harsh, but there’s logic in law.”

Johnson added: “To touch on the Marcus Rashford in the derby.

“They are very different situations.

“[Manuel] Akanji’s problem was he never got within playing distance of the ball (as defined in law), and as such there’s an argument that Rashford could not have interfered with him (as defined in law).”

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