Arsenal 2022/23 Chapter 5: 3-1 over United and Anthony Taylor

Good morning. I’m sorry it’s taken me a few days to get this post up but frankly I needed some time to calm down from the events on Sunday. Frankly, it’s not worked. I’m not even remotely calm.

I want to address the referee controversy first. I’ve listened to the two biggest football podcasts which cover the Premier League and only one person (Barry Glendenning) even mentioned the penalty call that was rescinded by Anthony Taylor but all of the commentators made sure to point out that Garnacho was “millimeters” offside with the breathless pearl clutching that indicates that some huge injustice was done to him and Man U. And to my astonishment, Erik Ten Hag has had the temerity to come out and complain about the officiating, absolutely obscene in the context of the match.

I guess that there were other complaints but the two biggest ones were the penalty call and the offside call. The offside call is correct. Garnacho was offside and it even looked offside in real time. Ten Hag complained that the camera angle was wrong or something? It’s an asinine complaint since offside is determined by multiple camera angles. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a millimeter offside or a foot offside (as Garnacho was) it’s offside. He went too early. Gabriel smartly played Garnacho offside. That’s it.

To complain about that and then to not even mention the obvious error that Taylor made to rescind the penalty is, well, it’s incredibly Mancunian. Taylor last officiated the Arsenal loss to Nottingham Forest in May. You might remember that match for him not only refusing to give Jesus a penalty for a clear drag back, but for actually giving Jesus a yellow card for complaining. And then on Sunday he first awarded a penalty for two players tripping Kai Havertz but then went to the TV and watched two players trip Kai Havertz and decided that there was no foul. Both of Kai Havertz’s legs were taken from him. Not by Wan Bissaka’s foot but by him and Casemiro’s shins. It’s absolutely clear. It’s an indisputable penalty. The only way that you wouldn’t call that a penalty is if you thought Kai Havertz threw himself to the ground and kicked both of the defenders in the process. But that isn’t what happened. He was literally closed down on both sides and was tripped.

After that call, I had a hard time even focusing on the match. I was just livid. I guess we didn’t play very well during that period and Man U had the lion’s share of the possession. But that could have been by design from Arteta. Despite having the ball, Man U failed to create even a single chance from the 77th minute on.

The game came back to life for me when Declan Rice scored his first ever Arsenal goal. What a time to do it! The 96th minute of a huge game between Arsenal and Man U. Everyone celebrated. And Jesus added the cherry on top with his counter break goal, juking two players to put the ball in the net.

That’s all I have the energy for, sorry. As the days get shorter it takes me more time to adjust. Waking up in the dark for two hours is a bit frustrating but things will get better(ish) when we put the clocks back to their real time (the one where noon is the peak of sunlight, instead of 1pm).

Take care!



  1. Thanks Tim. I went around and read so many comments on various arsenal blog’s including arseblog. Most of them were of the opinion that Kai was lazy and dived. But I saw and still believed that it was a blatant penalty. I cannot believe when the decision was overturned by VAR and was confused even more when I read comments from supporters that the decision was correct. Thanks for putting it in perspective. I know now I was not a blind supporter.
    What a game. What a win. But ManU was there for taking. We need to be more precise in the final third. We cannot just leave it so late every game. And FFS please stop conceding from the first attempt at Goal please.

  2. Hi Tim, hope you had a great weekend.

    I don’t think Kai dived, but I also don’t think it was stonewall. I think he felt contact by AWB, took the foul and was sandwiched by Casemiro as he did.

    That’s not the issue for me. The issue is the re-refereeing, which VAR is not supposed to allow. It was so very very obviously not a “clear and obvious” error. It was a soft call, but a call made. Taylor then goes and re-referees the play, which is not supposed to happen. That left me fuming.

    The offside was offside, it looked offside in real time, and I was surprised it was as close at it was.

    Since we’re doing the Ten Hag narrative thing, The Hojlund pen was a nothingburger. Man Utd fans on Twitter sharing a very specific, slowed down angle, but even then it shows Gabriel being dragged down first. In real time, different angles, two players tussle and the defender wins. Not a thing.

    Look, we got lucky. Rashford did his thing – do nothing anywhere on the pitch except that little area where he’s deadly. We hit back immediately but ran out of ideas. Havertz made two big errors (though the goal was not really his fault, there was a lot to do between him giving the ball away and it going in) but was at least decent in his overall play, but Saka was poor all round. That game should’ve ended in a draw I think, but Rice’s goal got a lucky deflection and then Jesus did a Moses and parted the seas.

    I’m very happy. I’m concerned with performance, but this Man Utd team also gives us a tougher game than they should given they are a shambles. Happy with the result, hope we look better after the break.

    1. i concur – it was re-refereeing. I think they should give up the ghost and just be transparent about the re-refereeing.

      Also, is it just me or did anyone else also feel that Jesus looked a little more beefed up that last season?

    2. I agree with everything ZDR said above, except the offside call looked pretty close to me in real time.

      The lucky deflection by Jonny Evan’s extended right leg was the result of karma for him having adopted a wide stance for leverage to pull back and drag down Gabriel. If only karma works so quickly more often!

  3. It was a blatant penalty, and the imposition of VAR sua sponte and Taylor’s resultant reversal is nothing short of corruption.

    I wear readers and was watching the match on my phone (via the ‘Cock) as we were enroute to my daughter’s soccer match, and IT WAS OBVIOUS TO ME IN REAL TIME that Garnacho was offside.

    This crap is ridiculous. Anthony Taylor is ridiculous. PGMOL is ridiculous.

    Oodegard, Rice, and Jesus are fabulous. Havertz will have HIS breakthrough moment soon and will go on in short order to score multiple goals. My man, Vieira, is coming good, and soon Reiss Nelson and ESR will be coming to take names.

  4. ZDR – “ I think he felt contact by AWB, took the foul and was sandwiched by Casemiro as he did.”

    I dunno. Sounds pretty stonewall to me.🤔

    1. I think what I’m saying is, if I compare it to the Vieira penalty from the other week, that one was so much clearer. There are shades to this.

      Would I have been mad if Man Utd had gotten a penalty that looked like that? Surely a little, but as long as there is contact from a defender who puts the player off without getting the ball, it’s hard to argue.

      *shrug emoji*

      Havertz’s time will come. I wish the fanbase judged him on more than just goals though. He’s not helped by Rice and Timber flying out of the blocks in preseason and early season, but I don’t think he’s been actively bad at all. Mostly good, more active in that position than Xhaka, not quite as effective yet.

  5. Drove the hour down to Denver to watch at the main Arsenal supporters pub there. It was packed, the atmosphere was great, and the place went ballistic with the two late goals. Don’t know that I’ll do that drive for every match, but it was fun.

    I’ve been surprised at a lot of the commentary that Utd somehow “deserved” to win. If I think about the big chances in rough order of how “big” they were, it’s: 1. Jesus goal at the end, 2. Havertz miss, 3. Saka miss, 4. Odegaard goal, 5. Rice goal, 6. Rashford goal (not an easy one, full credit to him). So most of the big chances went to Arsenal. Plus more touches in the box, shots, on target and corners. While teams do get wins by playing on the counter and getting a couple of clinical goals, this was a match that Arsenal should have put away, and the 3-1 scoreline to me reflected Arsenal being on the front foot for most of the match.
    Felt bad for Eddie. He didn’t play poorly, and maybe should have a had some good chances with better service. But we did look better with Jesus on the field. His dribble penetration opens things up for the rest of the team in a way Eddie can’t.
    As for the penalty, it was a little soft. But I wouldn’t have been upset if the same thing had happened on the other side. And there’s no way I thought that was a clear and obvious error.

  6. Eh. A “Clear and Obvious Error” would be if there was NO contact. The tackles were from behind and no attempts were made to play the ball. So they are fouls by TWO players on Havertz if there was contact of any kind on either trailing or standing leg.

    So after Taylor blows, the VAR referee probably said “hold on, it looks like there was no physical contact and it was a blatant dive”

    VAR referee takes another look, spots that there was contact, case should be closed but now inexplicably mentions to Anthony Taylor that the contact MAY not be enough to warrant a foul. This is the ridiculous part. Because it means that Anthony Taylor now has to re-referee when he has already correctly judged that there was contact- but now has to re-judge the DEGREE of contact.

    VAR should have been only for determining if there was contact. The degree of contact is beyond the scope of VAR as that was not why the VAR was called in.

    The problem with this is now this sets precedence for VAR repeatedly every single foul in the box for velocity, leg angle and hundreds of variables beyond its intention.

    Whoever that VAR ref was. Dumb.

  7. Manchester United, Eric 9.5 Hag, Harry LEGO Maguire, Anthony Taylor, Anthony (Not Taylor), Sir Alex Fergie Ferguson, PGMOL, Wayne O’Rooney, Taylor Anthony Swift, “Whoever That VAR Ref Was” – despite your very best efforts, your boys *still* took a hell of a beating 🙂


  8. This is one case where I’m mushy about the pen on Havertz. My understanding was that VAR can’t review unless it’s a clear and obvious error. I read the ESPN VAR review and their take is that Taylor announced the penalty was because Havertz was tripped from behind by Wan Bisaka. VAR intervened because they said Havertz wasn’t tripped, he dragged the foot to initiate contact. That’s what triggered the review. Taylor then reviewed, and looked at the rest of the contact and determined that Havertz started to go down because he dragged the foot, not because of the subsequent contact (which in my book was the reason for the pen) Kinda nuanced but it offers a bit more clarity on the ruling, and makes it less egregious to me. Curious what others think about this assessment of the pen.

    This game was a weird one because I thought we played much worse than against Fulham, but got the result anyways. Final score matters. I think we’re still sloppy but chalking it up to early season and new players bedding in.

    I’m worried we’re running Saka into the ground. Nonstop football catches up with anyone. Reminds me of Alexis. Played so much for so long and then just fell off a cliff performance-wise. Saka needs to refresh and recharge. Wish Southgate would give him a break.

    1. ”VAR intervened because they said Havertz wasn’t tripped, he dragged the foot to initiate contact. “

      My view is that from Havertz position already in front of the two defenders; dragging your foot to force contact is near impossible unless you have eyes at the back of your head. And from the VAR, we could clearly see that Havertz’s leg was in a natural motion and not moving towards the two defenders.

      Forcing contact would be that Pires specialty of seeing an English meat lunk make a tackle in front of him while running with the ball, then altering the trajectory of his front foot to the outstretched defenders leg. This is helped by Pires’ awkward stompy running style which disguises the altered motion.

      From behind, no chance.

      Re Bukayo: that’s where I hope ESR gets his chances. Saka seems more jaded and less penetrative this start of season.

      1. Wayne Rooney would routinely starfish dive 10 yards before contact and then kick out and touch a defender with his toe and they would award him a penalty.

        1. Certainly. Rooney’s were hilariously blatant and wouldn’t pass muster in the age of VAR.

          Pires’ was a response to that barbaric age when a dangerous foul in the box is ok as long as the defender “got to the ball first”. Pires’ gamesmanship was to make the defender think twice about over committing to these “follow-through” tackles.

  9. I thought the offside was not to be, but that half pullback by Gabriel is so lovely to watch on the replay. Even better that VAR made the barcode knockoffs mad. Hope that back five continues starting here on out.

    Havertz ironically has a problem similar to his ‘left 8’ predecessor – watching him run is like video of a man about to fall which cuts away and loops before he actually tumbles. Either he figures it out, or we see more Vieira/ESR. I’m fine either way.

  10. I kinda zoned out not in terms of watching the game but in terms of expecting a result

    At the same time as you mention Tim when the penalty was ruled out

    I was resigned that we were not going to win
    Then the Garnacho offside happened and I was still thinking “I’ll be glad to take a tie”

    The Declan Rice goal came to wake me out of my apathy
    But I did not find passion until Jesus’ hips told the truth (just like the Ozil move in Europe)

    It wasn’t until the 3-1 that I got my mojo back and I said out loud “F**k you, Man Utd. That’s what you get”

    I definitely have all kinds of trauma built up from years of getting screwed by refs when we played against Man U


    1. YES!!!!

      I screamed the same F you United! when we scored that goal! – visceral reaction. I’m not usually angry fan guy but something about that moment released some really deeply-seated anger lol.

  11. in real time, i thought the garnacho run was onside. even on the replay, i was convinced he was on. it was a dynamite run by that kid and an excellent finish. with that, i come from the school of “equal is on”. i don’t see how so many were convinced he was offsides, especially after seeing how close var showed it was. for the record, as a former striker, i’m not a fan of this “inches is offside” rule. a player can’t determine if they’re offside by 2 inches or not. i think if it’s that close, the advantage should go to the attacking player but this is the law of the land.

    big up to fabio. in less than a half of football, he’s got 2 assists and won a penalty. he deserves a place in the team.

    as for pen claim, wan-bissaka made contact, which lead to havertz going down. although awb tried to avoid the contact, he failed. like most, i have no issue with the call going either way. but that’s not my biggest concern. my question is what would havertz had done if he weren’t taken down and was clean through? i think he would have tried to pass it and lost the ball. i made the point after the fulham game that it seems he sees everything too late and he switches off when away from the point of attack. lastly, i don’t think he’s what tim would call a progressive passer. the only thing he seems to progressively pass is responsibility.

    the giveaway by havertz on their goal was as criminal as the saka giveaway against fulham. i don’t care how far you are away from your goal, you don’t make that pass behind your midfield without exercising caution. as for the defending, ben white has got to show rashford down the line. make him beat you on your strong side with his weaker foot…knowing you’ve got center back cover. even saliba looked confused. allowing rashford inside surrendered the initiative as he could do so many thing whereas forcing him down the line makes his play very predictable. in this instance, white’s cover wasn’t clear as to how to support him but it also caused saliba to be yet one more players to block the view of the keeper. that’s bad football by both havertz and ben white.

    1. That is quite spot on “the only thing he seems to progressively pass is responsibility” … Agent Kai seems to slow or regress our game play and its been quite frustrating for such a seemingly talented wunderkind!

      White’s defending of Rashford throughout match had been really passive and. He was standing off so much it was so frustrating to watch – The butcher Martinez would have snapped Rashford foot off (if we had signed him last season) and ensured that the devil’s hotshot wouldn’t have had a chance to breathe.

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