I have a whole plethora of mixed emotions this morning. Yesterday’s game against Man City was one that I thought to myself was a free hit, I just wanted us to compete, but what we got was an Arsenal team that not only competed, but I thought dominated Man City for two-thirds of a football match, only to let a series of unfortunate events blight what should have been a fantastic day for us.

Arsenal started unchanged from the side that played against Leeds and the only shuffle was White moving centrally and Tomiyasu coming in at right back. Raheem Sterling has had his way with us for years on that left hand side (our right) and so I was intrigued to see how the Japanese would get on. He bossed it. Sterling barely had a sniff. But neither did any Man City player in that first half. Arsenal had intensity, Arsenal had drive, Arsenal had purpose and when we went ahead through a well worked goal and a good Bukayo Saka finish, it was no less than we deserved.

You may have noticed that I have glossed over the first controversial part of the game, in which Stuart Attwell and the VAR official deemed that there was no point in reviewing the VAR monitors a million times to see that there had been a foul on Odegaard and a penalty that should have been awarded. The reason I haven’t jumped in on that is that I don’t think you can look at that without also talking about City’s equaliser. Let’s be clear though: the lack of award of a penalty for us is not the reason we lost the game yesterday. We scored after the penalty we should have had and at halftime we were ahead. The VAR decided that it was probably too close to call on the Odegaard penalty and there is a level of ‘letting the game flow’ in which I understand. The call was marginal, it was a foul by Ederson but if you have to look at it multiple times then you have to say that it is unlucky.

But what is a disgrace, what is thoroughly unacceptable, is the lack of consistency applied, not even across the season of games, but in THE SAME GAME. If you are going to look at the Odegaard incident and not do anything more, then you should be applying the same logic to the Xhaka foul. Let’s be clear on this too; Xhaka was a wally because he didn’t need to have anything of Silva’s shirt. Silva dived, we all know that, we know they shouldn’t have had the penalty, but Xhaka didn’t need to touch him. A bit like how Harry Maguire had a hold of Tomiyasu’s shirt in the game at Old Trafford, which wasn’t even given a second look by anybody, by the way. Having said that, this is where the frustration lies; in the lack of consistent application, because VAR spent an eternity looking at the Man City penalty and not looking at our incident which, if they had, would certainly have meant a penalty. And here we are again. Decisions that are not being made equally in game and just like between the Scum and Liverpool two week’s ago, we have the refereeing in this country called in to question, because the PGMOL and its team of referees are simply not good enough for the job they do.

But even then, even at 1-1, we still should have scored and Martinelli’s ball against the post when faced with an almost open goal was part of a mad five minutes which effectively swung the game. Gabriel’s second yellow can’t really have too many complaints and having been booked just a few minutes earlier he has to learn to not go in on a player like that. Man City were allowed by Attwell to get away with a lot yesterday so we really needed to avoid giving Attwell the opportunity to give them any more advantages than they already had. Rodri, the eventual winner, also was a lucky boy; he took out Saka for one attack which I thought could have gone either way in terms of a potential yellow, then he slipped and cleaned out Martinelli on another instance. It was a slip and accidental but just because a player slips doesn’t mean he cannot foul somebody, If I am on the pitch and I slip and clean out somebodies ankles, causing them to break them, do I deserve to plead innocence and get away with it? Of course not. So to see Rodri pick up his booking for taking his shirt off having just scored the winner was yet more salt rubbed in to the gaping wound left by some of the refereeing decisions.

I do need to reiterate though, that we need to learn from some of these situations, because we faced a lethargic looking City, we bossed them when there was equality on the pitch and we let a few moments of rashness cost us. This team needs to learn from this. We can take the positives, the performance was impressive, but we can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We do indeed need to have VAR sorted but it is out of our control. Until the Premier League and FA start to regulate the standard of refereeing we’re going to continue to get the kinds of incidents that see Tomiyasu kicked in the head and nothing happening, as well as some of the decisions yesterday.

I am grumpy this morning because we got nothing out of a game in which we should have got something. But my hope is that this team takes this perception of injusticec and uses it to fuel our form for the upcoming fictures. January was always going to be tough, we know that, but it also provides an opportunity to see how far we have come. If we play like that between now and the end of the season, we are going to pick up a lot of points and have a fair bit of success, that’s for sure.

Catch you all tomorrow.