With both VAR decisions going against Arsenal this weekend, it seems as if the new tech has it in for the Gunners, but are the refs really screwing Arsenal or are we just imagining it?

The scoreboard displays the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) decision disallowing Arsenal’s third goal by Arsenal’s Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 27, 2019. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

VAR was our great hope.

Finally, we would get the penalties we deserve and stop conceding ones that were dives.

Except, no.

It feels like it has got much worse as Arsenal lose perfectly good goals and are denied penalties others get with ease.

I should start by saying that I don’t actually think there is a referee conspiracy against Arsenal. I think every fan feels like the officials are out to get their team and every incident, like the ones we saw this weekend, is used to confirm that bias. But one team must, by virtue of how these things work, be at the bottom of the pile and it might just be the Gunners.

If it’s not, I pity the poor b**tards who’re getting it worse than us this season.

Against Palace on Sunday we saw Atkinson (who has reffed 40% of Arsenal’s matches this season – 56% of his matches have been Arsenal – and has a 36% accuracy rate this season) book Wilfried Zaha for a dive before VAR gave them a penalty and rescinded the yellow. At the other end, a last-gasp winner from Sokratis was ruled out by somebody nobody has heard of and who has never refereed in this division before for reasons nobody can work out. Mark Clattenburg has said the VAR operator got wrong for both calls.

Last week against Sheffield United, Sokratis was clearly fouled and Mike Dean didn’t even consult VAR despite VAR checks on penalties being one of the few things they are supposed to use it for. That game also saw Saka booked for diving in what was a carbon copy of Zaha’s overturned penalty.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and team members protest to the Referee Mike Dean during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Arsenal FC at Bramall Lane on October 21, 2019 in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 21: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and team members protest to the Referee Mike Dean during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Arsenal FC at Bramall Lane on October 21, 2019 in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Against Bournemouth Nicolas Pepe was clearly fouled in the box but, even though the VAR operator thought it was a penalty, Arsenal didn’t get it.

On the flip side, VAR made sure Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal against Manchester United stood, although why the flag went up in the first place is anyone’s guess.

To the best of my memory those are the biggest calls we’ve had.

There are probably more ‘non-calls’ when we had players fouled in the box but nothing was given, but as you can see from that list above, things are not going well for Arsenal and VAR.

Contrast with that lot down the road who benefited from two wrong VAR calls last week against Watford to earn an undeserved point and you have to wonder just how bad they really are. We are really crap and still four points ahead of them. And that’s despite losing at least three more points because of VAR, while they’ve collected a few extra.

I’m not quite sure how the Premier League have managed to take a tool designed to help and made things worse. I’m pretty sure, however, we should be glad PGMOL weren’t around when we finally moved in caves way back when. They’d have probably used that hot new tool, fire, to wash everybody’s clothes.

Oh, and on top of all that, Arsenal get booked more often than any other side for fewer fouls, too.