Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes Granit Xhaka’s challenge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal was not a foul.
The Gunners secured a crucial three points against Tottenham in the first North London Derby of the season, but it wasn’t without its controversy.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored Arsenal’s second goal of the game as the Gunners ran riot in the first-half, but Spurs were adamant there was a foul from Xhaka in the build-up to the strike.
Aaron Ramsdale played the ball to the Switzerland international and Hojbjerg tried to intercept, but Xhaka did everything he could to ensure Arsenal kept possession, before the hosts went up the other end and doubled their tally.
Gallagher, when speaking about the incident on Sky Sports News on Monday morning, was sure that it was not a foul.
Gallagher said: “I thought no [it’s not a foul], I think he was protecting the ball.
“I still think that would have been a long, long way to go back if the VAR was to intervene, but that being said, I don’t think it was a foul. It’s gone the full length of the pitch anyway, but for me, no.
“There’s a lot of play in between, isn’t there? It’s got to go through a lot of players in between, it’s got to go through players, so I don’t think it was a foul anyhow.”
Meanwhile, there was another incident that went against Tottenham after Ben White brought down Harry Kane inside the box.
Kane was sure he had won his side a penalty at 3-0 down, which could have sparked a comeback, but Craig Pawson was not convinced and the Video Assistant Referee did not overrule the on-field official.
Gallagher thinks Arsenal defender White was “lucky” to get away with the incident, but can understand why VAR did not go against Pawson’s decision.
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He said: “I think he’s lucky. He doesn’t get the ball, Kane gets there quickly, he’s a bit slow and catches him.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if he got a penalty given there. What I would say is that it didn’t meet the threshold for an obvious error. I thought they were checking if it was inside or outside [the box] at first.
“It’s a difficult one, because if the referee gave a penalty, I don’t think the VAR would’ve gone against him either.”