As I write this it’s just a few minutes after the final whistle, my head is still spinning.
I had an entire match report written up until the Burnley penalty, then the game just lost all sense of reality, thanks in no small part to Jon Moss’s inability to do the very thing he is employed to do, and I hadn’t a clue what to write.
Moss was acting just as we’d predicted in our preview and when former colleagues and members of the referees union call you a ‘joke,’ you know you’re really, really bad. As such, the man who made up a rule to send off Granit Xhaka with a straight red, allowed Burnley away with numerous, insidious fouls, all designed to disrupt Arsenal as much as possible.
Knowing Moss is a mug (and that Anthony Taylor was the fourth official), it was a tactic they were no doubt confident about deploying before the match.
That’s how we ended up where we did at the end.
Moss averaged more than a mistake every 1.5 games last season and shows no signs of having improved. His decision to wave away a penalty call on Shkodran Mustafi was hilarious. As was the same man popping up to break the stalemate just moments later.
My personal highlight of the match was Moss’s face after Alexis showed more bottle than a milkman to give Arsenal the win in the dying embers of the match. Before that, Moss had shown another red card to Granit Xhaka for a foul he’d have booked any other player for. It was a poor tackle, but make no mistake, being Granit Xhaka made up Moss’s mind. Perhaps Xhaka’s missed penalty at the Euro’s cost Moss his house, or something. It would explain a lot.
He’s issues three reds this season. Two of those have gone to Xhaka.
Oh yeah, he also gave Burnley a penalty, two minutes into injury time. And sent off Arsene Wenger.
Taken in isolation, most of the big decisions were probably right, but it is a sign of a very poor referee who lets a game descend into farce the way this one did.
And to think, before that, all anyone was talking about was a banner with some dogs on it.
For some reason, a few in the media found this compelling and couldn’t help but criticise. I might spend some time this week looking to see if they had the same compulsion when Wenger was being abused with paedophile chants for years.
Before this round of fixtures, Arsenal were already written off as title challengers.
Now we’re second.
These really are weird times we live in.