“Postecoglou’s Dismay: Spurs Held Hostage by Baffling Handball Rule”

Joe Lee
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min scores his side’s second goal past Arsenal’s goalkeeper David Raya during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates stadium in London, England, Sunday, September 24, 2023. Photo: AAP via AP/David Cliff

Ange Postecoglou praised Tottenham’s bravery against Arsenal, but he was amused by the handball rule, saying that “armless defenders” could be needed in the future after Cristian Romero committed a ludicrously harsh penalty in the 2-2 draw.

Spurs won a share of the north London derby as skipper Son Heung-min scored twice either side of halftime.

But the Australian, who is still undefeated in the Premier League, might have had an even better outcome if Romero hadn’t been punished for handball in the area in the 54th minute after blocking Ben White’s attempt from close range, allowing Bukayo Saka to slide home the resulting penalty.

Spurs did equalise shortly after when Son scored his 150th goal for the club, but Postecoglou was still perplexed by the penalty award, comparing it to the similarly dubious handball awarded to Wolves’ Joao Gomes against Luton on Saturday.

“I’ve got no idea about the handball rule,” he shrugged. “No, I don’t. I saw the one against Wolves yesterday, and it just looks like if it touches your hand, it’s a penalty, and other times it isn’t.

“I have no idea.” It’s the one rule in the game that I don’t get.

“I’m not sure how you’re supposed to block things and be in a natural position unless we start developing armless defenders.”

“It is what it is. You kind of hope these things even themselves out over the course of a year but I don’t understand the rule. Any clarity would be good because I have got no idea.”

But Postecoglou was delighted by the performance of his side. “You can get a result here, a draw, and you can walk away feeling ‘you know what, we escaped’ – but I don’t have that feeling now.

“I think we went toe-to-toe with a top team and at times we really asserted our dominance on the game. At times, they did but that’s what happens when you face top sides.

“Even if we had lost today, and I don’t like losing, but for me to keep pushing these guys, they need to feel that out there that what we talk about and work on, they can see it come to fruition and when it does against a top team, being brave with our approach, that’s the key thing. I’m pleased.”

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