I have woken up this morning and I am still mad about the result last night. There were certainly things in which we could have done more to avoid the defeat to Wolves at Molineux last night, but I am finding it almost impossible not to think about this game and look at the details without viewing it through the prism of the game-changing decision that defined the match into injury time in the first half.
It effectively changes the game and I’m sorry, but it is an utter disgrace at the injustice we came across last night. Craig Pawson is a joke of a referee and he showed his ineptitude and lack of common sense last night with his decision to send David Luiz off.
I also think it is debatable whether or not there was even any contact. I have watched it about six or seven times now and even I am struggling. If there is contact, it certainly should not have been a sending off. I have seen people argue that there was no attempt to play the ball and so when that is the case it is a red card and a penalty. Indeed, there was no attempt to play the ball by David Luiz, but here’s the thing: he made an ACTIVE attempt NOT to touch the player. You can see it in his movement. He slows down his run, he pulls his body up high, he is trying his best not to touch the player and for that reason Pawson should have gone to the monitor and seen that, rather than instantly reacting.
But that is what referees do to Arsenal. It is “get the red out as soon as possible” with us this season. Just look at Emile Smith-Rowe in the FA Cup game against Newcastle. Referee acts swiftly and it is only when the VAR official says he should have a think again does he act. Last night it was the reverse: he decided he didn’t need to see anything and that in itself stinks.
If there was contact, if they look at the replay as they do with Arsenal a million times in slow motion, before making contact then fine. Give the penalty. But you cannot watch a dozen replays of that incident and tell me there is intent on David Luiz’s part to trip the player and make no effort to go for the ball.
And for those of you “he had no choice” peeps out there, let’s just remind ourselves of the FIFA rules of the global game:
Fouls – Direct free kick:
Group of six
- Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent – David Luiz is trying to get out of the way
- Trips or attempts to trip an opponent – it was not an attempt, or a trip, because the players studs touch his knee at best, so you can’t call that
- Jumps at an opponent – nope
- Charges an opponent – na-ah
- Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent – didn’t happen
- Pushes an opponent – not in this instance.
For this group of six, the referee must consider how the action was done:
- With excessive force.
I think it is hard to argue for any of those in that Luiz decision.
Yet here we are this morning having felt hard done by. If we can take any crumb of positivity it is that we battered Wolves in that first half and as Arteta said should have been three or four up. But the luck and poor officiating was against us last night. Saka hit the post early on, he then had an offside ruled out because of a Lacazette toenail being offside (wouldn’t it be nice for one of those marginal calls go our way for a change?), Pepe scored a great goal to put us ahead and we looked very good in that first half. But as soon as we were down to ten men the game was going to be a tough one for us. If the game stays at 1-0 at halftime I think we are talking this morning about a comprehensive and impressive Arsenal display. The narrative from the gutter press will be about an Arsenal implosion and craziness and yes, Leno had a moment of madness in the second half, but that media narrative will still see us as pressing the self destruct when, in my opinion, Craig Pawson pressed it against us. If it were a United or a Tiny Totts it would be about the standard of officiating, but the media love a fallen giant and that is us this season and last season, which is why we don’t get the same love in and this game will be more about some sort of stupidity that wasn’t really there in the first half.
What these players need to do now is pick themselves up for the weekend game and use this perceived injustice and turn it in to motivation for the game at the weekend against Aston Villa. We need to make sure we stop getting sent off for silly things, that’s for sure, but we can also take the attacking threat from this game as an opportunity to review waht went right and hopefully show up at Villa Park for the lunch time kick off. IT will be a tough game but we have to keep believing in ourselves.
I think that’s all I want to say about last night’s game to be honest with you. I think it was an unfortunate and maddening way to lose a game, but once again it feels more like we aren’t getting the rub of the green, so hopefully some of that fortune comes back to help us in the coming months.
Catch you all tomorrow.