Even though Arsenal weren’t at their best against Sheffield United on Saturday, had they been given a stonewall penalty when they were 1-0 up then the result would have been a different matter altogether.
Before the game, I highlighted that the Arsenal match would be officiated by a horror team, led by Mike Dean with Lee Mason as his fourth official and Martin Atkinson running the VAR.
Our only saving grace, I thought, was Sian Massey-Ellis as the assistant VAR but we all know most men don’t listen to women about football so why I felt that would be of any help, I don’t know. Perhaps I was still drunk when I wrote it.
Anyway, with Arsenal 1-0 up and looking pretty comfortably Nicolas Pepe was taken out in the box. Yes, he knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make it any less of a penalty. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of penalty the entire Spurs forward line have turned winning into an art form.
Rarely does a result turn on a single decision, but this was a huge one.
At 2-0 Arsenal, grow in confidence and Sheffield United shrink a bit. Arsenal apply more control to the game with their subs instead of having to chase a winner with the team, club and fans all desperate to get winning consistently again.
Of course, Arsenal could have taken their chances, but football is a game of fine margins. When your forwards aren’t firing, you rely on game-changing calls being made correctly.
Even with the help of multiple replays, the officials still denied Arsenal what will be a penalty every time you see it again this season. And you will see it again, probably every weekend.
All I want is the same rules for everybody, that’s it. I hardly think that’s too much to ask for, is it?