I’ve calmed down a little bit from my initial rage at the final whistle last night. Calmed down, but still not completely calm, because that last moment of the game should have, I think, been a penalty on Bukayo Saka. Let me show my workings here on how I get this conclusion:

  1. Neuer makes clear contact with Saka and doesn’t get to the ball first. Probably the easiest one that can’t really be disputed. I’ve seen debates that Saka kicks in to Neuer, but he sticks his leg out, Saka has him beaten, I think it impacts his run as he’s travelling at pace and for me it seems pretty clear cut.
  2. There is more contact than the Bayern penalty. Perhaps you can argue that you have to treat the two incidents as isolated ones and not compare. But for me I disagree because the bar is set by the context of the game. I was fine with the referee giving Bayern their penalty, because there is contact – albeit relatively soft but it is still contact, it is in the box, it is a penalty. So you’ve established what level of contact you’re willing to accept is inside the box, so you have to apply the same principles with the Neuer foul on Saka.
  3. If that happens one yard outside the box, what does the referee do? He calls a foul. That’s what he does. So it’s a foul. Inside the box. That’s a penalty.
  4. If Kane does that up the other end, what happens? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the referee gives it to him. So why is the same logic not applied?
  5. Harvey Elliott at the weekend for Liverpool against United. I said it at the weekend, but I’ll say it on here, because I thought Wan Bissaka was silly, he left his leg out, Harvey Elliott took advantage, left a leg dangling, it was silly and it was a penalty. You can talk about Elliott ‘earning’ the penalty, so why aren’t we applying the same logic for this penalty shout?

I listen to the Arsecast and I think the logic Andrew applies to these sort of decisions is spot on:

If that happens against us, how do I feel?

Much like Wan Bissaka, I’d be saying “that’s silly from Raya – it’s a foul. Kane ‘buys it’, but you can’t leave your leg out. It’s a penalty”

I thought it was amusing of Tuchel to moan about the supposed penalty for Gabriel handballing it, but the referee clearly blows his whistle twice when Gabriel hen puts his hand on the ball to take the goal kick. Tuchel trying to call ‘foul’ on a common sense situation like this is laughable.

What wasn’t laughable was Harry Kane clearly elbowing Gabriel in the jaw, which was pre-meditated and as Keith Hackett has already said, he knew what he was doing and let’s get it right here, he’s done this before. Remember during lockdown, when he did the same on Gabriel at an empty Emirates? Or how about when he backed in to Gabriel when the Brazilian was in the air at the Toilet Bowl? This man gets away with this sort of stuff time and time again and frankly, it’s a bit of a joke.

Now, frustrations listed above aside, I do think I need to reflect on a performance that felt quite disjointed and uncharacteristic from what we’ve seen in this Arsenal team this season. It all started so well. We controlled the ball, we forced Bayern back, they clearly knew that we were going to get at them and they sat deep and were content to give us the ball. We harried, we pressed, we got an early reward and it was quite a fine one too, with Saka’s finish feeling absolutely textbook. It was 10+ minutes in and I’ll be honest with you, I was thinking “let this be a perfect night”. But unfortunately, as we know, it wasn’t to last. And I do think we have to factor in the psychological impact of playing in the Champions League. You’re up against the elite of Europe, you have to take your chances and as Ben White went in on goal and didn’t finish just a few minutes after we went one-up, you do wonder what might have been had we had one of the attackers running on to it and not the right back.

Gnabry’s goal was against the run of play, it was Bayern’s first attempt on goal, but it was poor Arsenal defending from Raya and Gabriel to a lesser extent. There’s no way Raya should have been that far up the pitch, it put unnecessary pressure on Gabriel as his standard passing lane back to the ‘keeper was not there, it forced the mistake and Bayern capitalised. Arteta will not be happy with that. He will also not be happy about the penalty Bayern got too. Above caveat about the tolerance of penalties aside, I thought at the time it was a pen, it was poor defending and Sane had all of our defenders on toast in that moment. Kiwior will be particularly disappointed with his part and clearly so was Arteta, because the Pole was hooked at halftime and I think most of us could see why. Zinchenko came on for the second half and I did worry that Sane would target him, but Bayern were playing a controlled game and looking to hit on the counter, so we pretty much controlled ball again in the second half and when we got our equaliser (and what a fine one is was from Trossard, who is bagging a fair few goals at the moment, after great work from Gabriel Jesus too) I think it was deserved. What was frustrating for me was that we seemed to work some really great goals and deserved both of them, but we absolutely gifted Bayern their opportunities. We can’t play like that in Germany because they will come at us.

But do you know what? That might be a good thing. The lack of the away goal rule means that we don’t need to worry about Bayern just shutting up shop and trying to play like they did last night. They will want to come at us on their own patch and I think that might suit us, because it will create space and it will ensure that we get chances. They gave us a few last night and apparently it’s what they’ve been doing for teams all season, so whilst I’m disappointed that we aren’t taking a lead to the Allianz, the way we have performed in big games this season away from home gives me hope that we could go there and get a result.

Back tomorrow with some more thoughts as we build up to another big one this weekend when we play Villa on Sunday.