Odegaard’s missing penalty
The scoreline was still 0-0 when Arsenal had their first reason for grievance on Saturday.
A free-flowing move from the hosts saw them cut through Manchester City – as they did on a number of occasions during the first half – but ended with Martin Odegaard going down under a challenge from Ederson.
It looked to be a close call, with the movement of the ball suggesting the City goalkeeper made contact with it, and referee Stuart Attwell waved away the Arsenal appeals.
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But replays of the incident – which were also shown inside the stadium – at half-time clearly showed Ederson making contact with Odegaard before the ball.
VAR Jarred Gillett looked at the incident but decided to stay with the on-field decision, despite the apparent error.
VAR’s refusal to intervene, especially in the context of what was to follow in Manchester City’s favour in the second half, provoked widespread bafflement.
VAR will not work properly in @premierleague until the quality of the officials is improved. Inconsistency over the 2 #ARSMCI penalties, both were pens, only 1 given. Frustrates fans, players. Ruins game. Some good refs but overall quality not good enough for an elite competition
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 1, 2022
City’s lifeline penalty on review
Arsenal’s mood went from bad to boiling point when Manchester City were eventually awarded a penalty after Bernardo Silva went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Granit Xhaka in the second half.
It looked a clumsy challenge from Xhaka. But while Xhaka had hold of Silva’s shirt, the City midfielder appeared to already be on the way down.
Once again, Attwell didn’t give the penalty on the field. However, on this occasion, the VAR did advise the referee to review the incident on the pitch-side monitor and he changed his decision, handing City a way back into the game as Riyad Mahrez converted the spot-kick.
Sky Sports‘ Lewis Jones, who was at the Emirates Stadium, said: “There is huge frustration from the Arsenal fans around the press box. But it’s a lazy challenge from Xhaka, who has previous for these kinds of moments.
“The incident was shown on the big screen, which Xhaka saw, and his reaction to that could have led to a second yellow card. He was quite lucky and needs to calm down.”
Result harsh on Arsenal. With the benefit of video replay – which is surely supposed to be the point of VAR – crystal clear that Ederson fouled Odegaard in the box in the first half. Simply don’t understand why VAR does not give that.
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) January 1, 2022
A crazy five minutes at the Emirates…
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones at The Emirates:
“Let’s take a look at that amazing five minute period…
“Silva goes down under a challenge from Xhaka. Attwell says no penalty. VAR advise him to go to the screen and he changes his decision. Xhaka and Gabriel are booked in the aftermath.
“Arsenal counter and Ake makes an amazing clearance off the line and Martinelli misses an open goal. From the next attack, Jesus draws a foul off Gabriel who receives a second yellow card.
Gabriel’s quick-fire dismissal
Arsenal’s frustrations did indeed boil over, however, and it left them with 10 men for the final 30 minutes of the game as Gabriel Magalhaes was shown two yellow cards in quick succession.
Arsenal supporters would argue that Gabriel’s first booking would have occurred had both penalty decisions been dealt with appropriately, but the Brazilian defender can have no complaints about the two yellows he received in quick succession.
The first offence was soft, with referee Attwell cautioning Gabriel for scuffing the penalty spot up before Mahrez’s kick. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was also spotted scuffing the spot up by the TV cameras but went unpunished.
Gabriel’s second yellow card was also avoidable minutes later when he stopped Gabriel Jesus in his tracks on halfway to halt a City counter-attack. Again, there should have been few complaints about the booking – was it really a challenge he needed to make? His rash intervention went a long way to deciding the outcome of the game as the contest swung firmly in City’s favour.
Hard to accept it , but only God knows everything !
Proud to be part of this team!!! Amazing spirit !
We will keep working together , fighting until the end !! For this team I will run until I die !! Let’s keep improving in 2022!!! pic.twitter.com/kLAmmQEVLt
— Gabriel Magalhaes (@biel_m04) January 1, 2022
Rodri gets shirty
Rodri was the eventual hero for Manchester City when his stoppage-time strike sealed all three points for Guardiola’s side.
It sparked wild celebrations from the midfielder and his team-mates, who ran straight over to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans. It led to objects being thrown on the field from the home fans aimed at the City players, and Rodri was eventually booked for taking his shirt off in the celebrations.
But should he have had an earlier caution? There are plenty on social media who think so.
Rodri only made two fouls in the game. The first was on Martinelli right on the edge of the Man City penalty area, which went unpunished. The second was for a foul on Alexandre Lacazette, which was also escaped further punishment and actually led to Bukayo Saka being booked for his complaints to the referee.
In fairness to the referee, it could be argued that neither of Rodri’s fouls, although they stopped promising Arsenal attacks, were bookings. However, Arsenal’s grievances come because of the quickness of the referee to caution the Arsenal players, particularly Gabriel and substitute Rob Holding, who were both booked after just one foul.