It is the way of a supporter to feel like the world is against you at times. Arsenal fans often have this feeling with refereeing, and more recently VAR, decisions going against them.
In fact, Arsenal had the joint-most negatively affected points tally for VAR overturns for the previous season. ESPN’s analysis of the season showed that Arsenal lost 6 points from these decisions, a total which cost them European qualification.
Several odd decisions fell away from Arsenal such as a Lacazette’s ‘goal’ at home to Leicester being ruled out for offside with Granit Xhaka deemed to be interfering with play despite being positioned nowhere near the Foxes’ keeper.
Alternatively, and likely most famously, David Luiz was sent off away to Wolves on the stroke of halftime for allegedly denying Willian Jose a goalscoring opportunity. Viral clips of the apparent touch of the Brazilian’s knee on the toenail of his fellow countryman’s toe circulated like wildfire.
Arsenal, who were leading the game at the time went on to lose and saw Bernd Leno sent off in the same fixture for a bizarre handball.
This derailed the festive momentum and Arsenal then went to Aston Villa where they lost again. Had the incident not occurred, maybe the Gunners’ season could have ended differently?
The referee in question from the game was Craig Pawson. Pawson, whilst supported by his colleagues such as Dermot Gallagher, saw plenty of opposition to the decision.
Arsenal supporters dreading when they might next have to face Pawson again will not be pleased to learn that he will take charge of the weekend’s north London derby.
The match has seen plenty of controversies, in particular red cards, throughout its long history. The game marks a moment of opportunity for both sides and is expected to be a frenetic 90 minutes.
Spurs off the back of two league defeats have looked stale and Harry Kane in particular has faced criticism. Arsenal meanwhile have ground out successive league wins after the horror 3-game losing streak at the start of the campaign.
An Arsenal win would see them match Spurs on points and turn the screw on Nuno Espirito Santo. However, an Arsenal defeat could quickly see their building momentum falter and the pressure exponentially increases again on Mikel Arteta.
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Pawson’s performance as the official will be in focus. Referees have allowed the play to flow more this season with strong challenges not always given as fouls, similar to how the summer European Championships were officiated.
A charged north London derby might see this extra leniency boil over if Pawson doesn’t draw the line early on.
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