EPL

De Bruyne on Jesus handball: I don't know the rules anymore

By Sports Desk November 21, 2020

Kevin De Bruyne claimed he is baffled by the current interpretation of the handball rule after Manchester City once again fell foul of VAR against Tottenham.

Spurs dug in for a 2-0 win thanks to goals in each half from Son Heung-min and substitute Giovani Lo Celso, moving them to the top of the Premier League table after a performance which delighted boss Jose Mourinho.

By contrast, Mourinho's old rival Pep Guardiola finds his side languishing in 10th with 12 points from eight matches, although they were entitled to be frustrated when a marginal handball call went against Gabriel Jesus when he set up Aymeric Laporte for what briefly looked to be a first-half equaliser.

Referee Mike Dean consulted the pitchside monitor, with the replay showing the ball brushed Jesus' bicep on the hem of his shirt sleeve.

The latest guidance on handball from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) stipulates the "T-shirt line" should be used to differentiate between where the shoulder ends and the arm begins in terms of legal and illegal playing of the ball.

"I don't know the rules anymore honestly," De Bruyne told Sky Sports, with the same combination of Laporte and Jesus denied by VAR when the sides drew 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium last season – a match that followed the remarkable drama of the sides' 2019 Champions League quarter-final.

"I thought if it's above the arm here [above the bottom of the sleeve] that it’s not handball anymore.

"Everybody knows that it hits him here. I don’t know the rules.

"If you will listen tomorrow or the day after they will come on whatever channel and the referee will say it's a good decision, so it really doesn't matter.

"I've been playing professional football for 12 years and in the first nine years there were no rule changes. Now there are a lot of rule changes.

"I don't know why. Football is a nice game. The people making the rule changes need to be in the game."

Another familiar aspect of City's performance was combining a dominance of possession with a lack of cutting edge in attack and defensive fragility.

The visitors had 22 shots, with half of those blocked, to Tottenham's four. Son's goal was Spurs' only attempt of the first half and City had accounted for 66.4 per cent of possession by full-time.

Guardiola highlighted Laporte's decision to charge out of the defensive line to challenge Harry Kane in the build-up to an opening goal when Rodri and Joao Cancelo also appeared culpable, but De Bruyne believes he and his attacking colleagues must take a significant share of the blame.

"I think we played well but we missed that cutting edge," he said.

"To keep Tottenham to about three or four chances, that's quite good. But if you're not sharp enough in front of goal, which is happening lately, it's not enough."

Jesus and fellow striker Sergio Aguero have spent time on the sidelines this season, with the latter on the bench in north London alongside Raheem Sterling, who suffered an injury while on England duty.

"Obviously it's been up and down with the players going in and out," De Bruyne added. "It's very difficult for players to come back from injury and be sharp. It's difficult to find consistency.

"I think the first two thirds of the pitch we played well, but the end needs to be sharper. That will come, hopefully sooner than later."

Related items

  • Guardiola still 'fully optimistic' struggling City can have successful season Guardiola still 'fully optimistic' struggling City can have successful season

    Pep Guardiola was expecting Manchester City to start the new campaign on top form but insists "the season is still so young" as his team instead toil in the bottom half of the Premier League.

    City are in Champions League action against Olympiacos on Wednesday, looking to advance to the last 16 with a fourth straight victory.

    As well as delivering another result on the European stage, though, Guardiola recognises the match is important to "recover our feelings" after another painful outing in the Premier League.

    City went down 2-0 at early leaders Tottenham on Saturday and now lie 13th in the table, already eight points off the pace with a game in hand to play.

    A return of 12 points from eight games is City's worst start to a league season since 2008-09 (10 points), while their failings in attack are particularly concerning, netting just 10 times - a low since scoring six times in eight matches in 2006-07.

    Guardiola is confident his side will turn their fortunes around, though, explaining: "I had a feeling we would do really well this season. I don't know why [we haven't].

    "From the beginning, I expected a reaction after how we finished the last season against Lyon in Portugal. I have a good feeling.

    "We know what we have to do. We are a team who last season scored a lot and now we are struggling.

    "I have to find a solution, to find the right way to attack more fluently and have the feeling that we can score goals. But in the way we play, I'm quite good, quite happy.

    "There are little details still we have to improve, conceding penalties that are unnecessary, sometimes we miss clear chances we have to score.

    "But the moment will break. In one or two games, this kind of thing will get better. The season is still so young and I'm fully optimistic we're going to do a good season."

    Guardiola is also willing to stay patient with record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who watched on from the bench at Spurs as City had 22 shots without finding the net.

    Aguero suffered a knee injury in June and has played just 110 minutes in the league so far this season, attempting a single shot that failed to hit the target.

    "We want him to come back," Guardiola said. "Today he trained again. That he can recover a good feeling in his knee is the most important thing.

    "I know it is not easy [being] injured but we wait for him and it's a step at a time.

    "We still have many, many games this season to play and we will need him. We want him to recover and be back in the best condition."

    In the meantime, new signing Ferran Torres has taken on a striking role, still waiting on his first Premier League goal but scoring three times in three matches in the Champions League.

    Another goal against Olympiacos would make him just the third City player - after Aguero and Raheem Sterling - to net in four straight games in the competition.

    Torres said of his responsibility to the team: "Obviously we have had a few injuries of our strikers in the squad.

    "But I think we are scoring goals as a team - probably not as many as we would like but we are also facing difficult opponents as well, so it's difficult.

    "We are working hard as a team to sort that out and I am confident that the goals will arrive.

    "Playing as a striker is not my natural position but I feel very comfortable playing there. I am also scoring goals so it is good.

    "When you work hard and make sacrifices for the team, you get your rewards, so I am trying to work hard to keep scoring goals."

  • Ibrahimovic must show he wants return to Sweden squad - Andersson Ibrahimovic must show he wants return to Sweden squad - Andersson

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic must prove he wants to play for Sweden again before head coach Janne Andersson considers recalling the in-form Milan striker.

    The 39-year-old recently hinted he is ready to end his international retirement by posting an image of himself in a Sweden top on social media, captioned: "Long time no see".

    However, Andersson was quick to rule out a return earlier this month after leaving Ibrahimovic out of his latest squad and stating that "the matter is closed".

    With Ibrahimovic lighting up Serie A once again this term, though, Andersson appears to have paved the way for a sensational return ahead of next year's rearranged Euro 2020.

    "First, it is necessary that he himself wants to be involved in the national team project," Andersson told Aftonbladet. "In 2016 he told me clearly he no longer wants to be part of it.

    "I respected his choice then and over the years since. He has to be the one who says he wants to come back. If that is the case, it will then be up to me to decide."

    Ibrahimovic is Sweden's all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 matches but has not played for the Nordic nation since a 1-0 defeat to Belgium at Euro 2016.

    And Andersson questioned whether the former Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United star is serious about reversing his international hiatus.

    "We haven't seen each other for a while," Andersson said. "I don't follow him on social media, but in any case I don't care what he says on there or how he says it.

    "I know what he told me and what we agreed when he left the national team. Since then, nothing has changed from my perspective."

    After two years in MLS with Los Angeles Galaxy, Ibrahimovic returned to European football with Milan in January on an initial six-month deal that has been extended until the end of 2020-21.

    He has been in phenomenal form in his second spell with the Italian giants, scoring 20 times in 24 Serie A outings this calendar year - only Ciro Immobile (23 in 27) and Cristiano Ronaldo (29 in 24) have managed more.

    The evergreen striker scored twice in Milan's 3-1 win over Napoli on Sunday before limping off with a hamstring injury, becoming the oldest player to net at least 10 goals in the first eight Serie A matchdays.

    His brace also saw him match Gunnar Nordahl for the second-most Serie A goals from the first eight games played of a season, only adrift of Marco Van Basten (12 in 1992-93).

    "I can't say I'm so surprised," Andersson said. "If I were, it would mean I didn't believe in his potential. I'm very impressed Zlatan can continue to have this hunger and drive.

    "He is really impressive, a great athlete, and by far Sweden's greatest player of all time. It is amazing what he is accomplishing, so hat off and congratulations to him."

  • Flick hopeful on Bayern's Hernandez but Sule's out for Salzburg game Flick hopeful on Bayern's Hernandez but Sule's out for Salzburg game

    Hansi Flick is hopeful Lucas Hernandez can feature in Bayern Munich's Champions League clash against Salzburg but confirmed Niklas Sule remains absent.

    France international Hernandez lasted just 18 minutes of the 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Werder Bremen at the weekend before being taken off with a pelvic injury.

    With Alphonso Davies also out with a long-term ankle problem, Leon Goretzka ended up filling the defensive void against Bremen.

    Head coach Flick will take a late decision on Hernandez but Corentin Tolisso and Bouna Sarr are both out of Wednesday's game.

    "We hope Lucas Hernandez can feature tomorrow, but Corentin Tolisso and Bouna Sarr will not be ready for tomorrow," Flick told a news conference. 

    Flick was reluctant to give away too much about who could fill in at full-back if Hernandez does not make it.

    "We have a few options. You will understand that I am not going to reveal too much now," he said.

    Centre-back Sule did not play against Bremen, with German publication Bild suggesting his omission was to do with Flick's concern about his fitness levels.

    Sule missed most of last season with a serious knee injury and tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, but Flick said he may be involved against Stuttgart at the weekend.

    "Niklas Sule will also not be available tomorrow. We're hoping he will be by the weekend," Flick added.

    "He had two serious injuries. It is important that he is 100 per cent fit, we need his qualities.

    "He was in quarantine for eight days. The national team doesn't train as intensively as we do. He still has to catch up. Tomorrow he won't be there. We look from day to day."

    Holders Bayern are top of Group A and would guarantee their progression from the group stages with a win at the Allianz Arena.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.