The Gunners were in total control of the Wolves vs Arsenal match at Molineux, having dominated forty-plus minutes of a one-sided contest. Pepe looked the real deal and a genuine threat and he secured the lead courtesy of a sublime right-footed strike. That’s correct, a right-footed strike! However, in what must have been the dying seconds of the half, the Wolves vs Arsenal game turned on its head with the help of a set of foggy rules and an obliging and generous official.
Yes, David Luiz was caught short when Daniel Podence released Willian Jose to split the Arsenal defence. Luiz realised that he was on the wrong side of his opponent and tried to get on the right side but in the process, the merest of contact was made. It appeared to be the hairs of Luiz’s knee contacting with the boots of the Wolves man before he went flying to the ground like he’d been fired from a cannon.
Craig Pawson immediately issued a red card and you could hear 70,000 jaws drop in the lounges across the country. Of course, it was a foul and a penalty but a red? I don’t think so, even if you try to manipulate the rules to the extreme.
I’m genuinely concerned about the general standard of refereeing in this country and how it could not only damage the game’s reputation but the way it impacts the clubs at either end of the table. This decision was allowed to go ahead in front of a live TV audience of millions and I’m not sure that it served as the most positive advert for the most prestigious league in the World.
One has to ask what VAR was doing during this sequence of events and why it didn’t break cover to rescind the red but then, this is the whole problem with VAR. It’s a selective and inconsistent medium that was intended to replace the selective actions and inconsistent judgements of a human official. Ironically, VAR is a system presided over by a hidden observer who acts just like an inconsistent and judgemental official.
If the FA aren’t going to look at the glaring inconsistencies within the game, then I’m afraid the future of football isn’t guaranteed. Fans won’t stand for being cheated by those in the employment of the governing body and ultimately, these types of decisions can have serious consequences at the top and bottom of the Premier League table.
Imagine a relegation battle on the last day of the season that will be decided by a win. The winners of that contest survive in the Premier League, the losers are relegated. A similar decision, under those circumstances, will cost a club millions.
Am I going to talk about the Wolves vs Arsenal game? No, not really, this was the key talking point of the contest and pivotal to the result. Who scored and how they scored after the Luiz sending off is completely irrelevant. Arsenal were always going to struggle to contain Wolves as they grew in confidence and Arteta must have had serious regrets about his side’s inability to take their earlier chances.
He will have also concluded that it’s far easier to defend a 3-1 lead with fewer men than it is from a position of 1-1 or 1-2 down. From the moment Wolves scored a scorcher worthy of the points, the game drifted beyond Arsenal’s reach. Leno added to the Arsenal woes when he was sent off for handling outside the area with the ball whipping off the wet surface. Unfortunate, but a red card nevertheless.
For 40 minutes of the Wolves vs Arsenal game, Arsenal had looked good, fantastic even, with the imperious Thomas Partey running the show, partnered by a much improved Granit Xhaka. This is what happens sometimes when a decent-ish player plays with a quality player, their own stock increases substantially. Other pluses were the performances of Pepe and Saka who were an absolute menace to the Wolves’ defence, but both were hindered in the latter stages by the constant need to defend.
This result means little in the big scheme of things but the stain on the Premier League’s reputation is growing with each farce they overlook and I fully expect the red card to be wiped off the Brazilian’s record at an appeal. If it isn’t, then the problems are far worse than we first thought.
Arsenal will suffer this, learn from it and move on. It won’t define their season, it’s just a blip in what is fast becoming the most unpredictable campaign in Premier League history. At this rate, West Brom could win the title… of course, they can’t, but it’s turning into that sort of odd season.