Dermot Gallagher thinks Arsenal would get a free-kick for Kyle Walker’s high kick anywhere else on the pitch, even though the ref didn’t give one in the box.

Kyle Walker's high kick against Arsenal (Photo via Sky Sports News)
Kyle Walker’s high kick against Arsenal (Photo via Sky Sports News)

Arsenal lost 1-0 away to Manchester City at the weekend, but one of the game’s turning points was a Kyle Walker high kick in the area. Gabriel Magalhaes was lucky to avoid any contact, fortunately heading the ball instead of the City defender’s studs.

All the same, the referee didn’t give anything, letting the game go on. Former ref Dermot Gallagher thinks it’s a free-kick anywhere else on the pitch.

“Anywhere else on the field, referees would give a free-kick,” Gallagher said. “The difficulty here is he does actually touch the ball, he doesn’t touch his opponent. It’s very difficult to give a foul in the penalty area when no contact’s made.”

Gallagher doesn’t mention that the FA actually have a rule for this. Let me quote from the rules for you:

“An indirect free kick is awarded…if a player plays in a dangerous manner.

“Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.”

So yes, the lack of contact means a penalty would have been the wrong decision. Instead, the referee should have given Arsenal an indirect free-kick inside the area. Walker clearly threatened injury to Gabriel while trying to play the ball, they just both got lucky.

That’s no minor mistake by the on-field officials. The indirect free-kick would have been in a fantastic area to try and score, almost as good as a penalty. More importantly, they should be looking to ensure the safety of players by giving these calls.