When the team news was announced, I was surprised to see Tomiyasu Takehiro’s name included in the starting eleven. Thrilled too I hasten to add. Other than the inclusion of ESR, I think Arsenal’s strongest team lined up to take on Pep Guardiola’s team and boy did we take them on. We bettered them for the majority of the game, even when we played with ten. I thought Arsenal were superb.
Gabriel was naive, Xhaka too but Stuart Attwell and VAR let the world of football, especially Arsenal, down in a massive way. Why weren’t the same rules applied for both penalties?
Foot not ball? Pen? Clear and obvious? I don’t know anymore… pic.twitter.com/o4pYTxA1Y4
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) January 1, 2022
I still can’t decide whether Odegaard caught Ederson before he himself was caught but regardless of what my thoughts were, why the heck was Attwell’s decision not looked at again? By Attwell I mean, not the buffoons sat in their warm and cosy room somewhere.
Yet VAR couldn’t have acted quicker to direct Attwell to the pitch side monitor after he’d waved away City’s appeal for a penalty. Bernado Silva dived, I’m sure of it. Yes, Xhaka grabbed his shirt but I saw no sign of him tugging it, certainly not enough to take him over in the fashion he did. To Attwell’s credit, he wasn’t fooled by the dive but VAR fell for it and Attwell wasn’t strong enough to stand by his original decision. In fact he wasn’t strong enough with his decision making all game really, certainly not when it came to dealing with Pep’s little darlings! Especially Rodri who totally wiped out Martinelli on the edge of the box but didn’t even get penalised for it. Shocking.
There’s a reason VAR was introduced and that was to ensure fairness for all. That didn’t happen yesterday. BT Sport’s football panel were on the same page and tied ex referee Peter Walton in knots as he tried to explain the rules.
Away from officials, I thought Arsenal were excellent and really didn’t deserve to lose that game. Even after the City penalty, we had a really good chance to regain the lead. Laporte headed back towards his keeper but the ball went over his head and towards an open goal. A fraction more pace and it would have crossed the line but Ake got back just in time to clear it. Annoyingly, it sat up nicely but on Martinelli’s left and he could only slice his shot wide. I doubt Attwell’s positioning helped his cause either.
Ederson booted his goal kick up the pitch to Jesus and the rest as they say, is history.
Even with ten men, we nearly, so very nearly, held on for the point.
Yet we should have had all three. 11 v 11, we outplayed City. Yes, we outplayed the team which many football writers and pundits believe is the best in the world right now. Arsenal’s spirit, attitude and discipline was fantastic. Xhaka will lambasted for giving away the penalty because it’s not the first time he’s cocked up. If he hadn’t have pulled Silva’s shirt, neither Attwell or VAR have a decision to make. Trouble is, shirt tugging in the box goes on, a lot and if every incident was deemed a foul, there’d be ten penalties in a game each week. Having just been booked, Gabriel should have shown more maturity on the halfway line. Someone should have thrown Jesus a knife and fork because he sure made a meal out of the incident.
Arsenal players need to wise up. The officials don’t like us, they never have and they’ll do all they can to help us drop points, especially when we’re facing a club they do like. City is one of them.
Even so, if watching that Arsenal performance doesn’t give you hope and belief that Arsenal under Mikel Arteta are heading in the right direction then I doubt anything will. But The Emirates faithful knew what they were seeing was good. No, better than good. They also knew we’d been cheated out of a better result. Not just because of the two penalty incidents but the way the game was officiated from start to finish.
Those players should feel proud but everyone barring a City fan will know that Arsenal were robbed. Deep down though, even City fans will know they were lucky, very lucky.
See you in the comments.