For once, Arsenal were not exactly robbed by VAR, as they probably only deserved a draw against Crystal Palace, despite the Gunners rediscovered devotion to duty. Mikel Arteta has had a galvanising effect on the whole team so, suddenly, even Xhaka looks a reasonably decent player.
Going back to VAR, I’m not going to argue about the decision made to send Aubameyang off. Harsh as it seemed in real-time, replays show that Aubemang’s challenge was dangerous on his Palace opponent, Max Meyer, so the Gunners skipper had to go. Quite why it took so agonizingly long for VAR to reach a verdict is another story, though.
Does anyone really think VAR has improved the game? I’m not seeing it like that myself, although, at least they made a rare, correct decision. It’s a bit like someone getting 2+2 right, using a calculator. It makes me want to say: ‘Faceless VAR crew, you’re all geniuses. Well done! You got one right! However, even the worst referees’ have a better record, so you’ve still got work to do, and they don’t disrupt the flow of the game.’
Talking of referees, the officiating against Palace was very poor, but Tierney’s performance was not helped by play-acting from both sides. To stop players clutching their heads, rolling over multiple times and writhing on the ground in agony, there should be retrospective sanctions. It really is embarrassing and, actually, Arsenal were more guilty of it than Palace. I would be too ashamed to do it myself, and I would charge the players that play-act with ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. I’m guessing that the authorities will do nothing about this and allow the practice to fester, while potentially driving away millions of TV viewers.
Meanwhile, those that watched the football against Palace would have been impressed with the opening goal, which involved a quick passing movement. What a team goal and all started by Luiz’s vision!
Unfortunately, Luiz’s intervention at the other end brought about the equaliser, as an unlucky deflection took Ayew’s shot past Leno.
Pepe almost won it at the death, with a shot that hit the post, but a draw was a fair result.
The only problem is Aubameyang will be suspended for three games, so Arsenal will be up against it until February.