Arsenal v Newcastle Six Observations: Outsource VAR, Great Team Balance, Need to Buy

Arsenal 0 – 0 Newcastle United

Six short and to the point Observations:

  1. It would have been great to win this one but it was vital not to lose. The gap after 17 games is huge with third placed Magpies, and this did not change as a result of our draw. We didn’t lose because we were the boss in midfield and were almost always in control when we had to defend.
  2. There is just such a good balance in our starting eleven. They play with great maturity that belies their inexperience. We had enough attempts on goal to win this game by one or two goals but just lacked that bit of luck and sharpness after three big games in eight days. I can live with this as it happens to every team that plays multiple challenging games in quick succession.
  3. My only disappointment was in the way we allowed our wingers, Saka and Martinelli, to get too isolated. Often the midfielders or CF would pass the ball to them and then not offer themselves as a passing option, but move into the box. The full backs were also less involved than usual. As a result our wing play was less effective.
  4. This was a game for GJ9 all day long, and we missed his ability to create mayhem and find holes in the tightest defences. GJ9 has the added bonus of knowing how to do wing play (support).
  5. Was there anybody on the bench who could have made a difference late on? Maybe Vieira but that’s it. We need to shop, maybe just a loaner.
  6. Who should run VAR? Any organisation capable of being totally neutral and consistent. All we want is consistency and we are not getting it. Ask Amnesty International or the NHS to run VAR, anybody but the referees themselves. Anybody can learn the rules and apply them consistently, except the referees themselves. Take it off them and pay some independent organisation handsomely to do a proper job. The ‘world class’ PL and its supporters deserve it.

By TotalArsenal

65 thoughts on “Arsenal v Newcastle Six Observations: Outsource VAR, Great Team Balance, Need to Buy

  • Non penalties….. Var got it right.
    Newcastle had the best two chances to win and should have had a clear penalty also.
    Pope made 1 block all night

    Can’t wait for the return game. Remember last season

    Toon toon

  • Glad you enjoyed yourself, V. I was very disappointed in the way Howe makes the Magpies play the beautiful game. You were so scared of us.

  • Your last point about VAR is spot-on. EPL officials seem to be starting to return to the biased, limp-dick approach to officiating and once teams get a sense that they can get away with just about anything against AFC, then our season is shot. We rarely can play against 12 men successfully and over the 20 odd years I’ve been following the Arsenal, we likely have lost at least 3 EPL titles. In Europe, where we get top class officiating, we don’t have to worry about poor referring and generally do better. what is it with the EPL,VAR and the English officiating?

  • It was a great game of football … infuriating yes, because their setup was meant to annihilate our strengths, but there was intensity, passion, tempers were flaring … I liked it a lot, only it’s the kind of game I find so frustrating to be watching on a screen.
    And guess what? We’re still comfortable leaders, so there’s no need to panic about a goalless draw with the best defense in the League. Now, is there room for improvement? There always is in football, and I agree with the flanks being a (slight) problem. As I wrote during the game, I wish Zinch didn’t stick so much to his spot in midfield when in possession, but made a few overlapping runs behind Marti so as to deliver (as he surely can) a few delightfully-weighed crosses into the box, which Eddie might prey on.
    Things aren’t that rosy on the other flank either, and I must say The Buk is starting to set my teeth on edge a little. Ben gives him all the overlapping runs he needs to make his defender hesitate, but our starboy constantly ignores them and chooses 1v1, over and over again, so much so that even such a big guy as Burn – which BK7 should have made a fool of – can end up spending a (relatively) comfortable night. Ben is a well-behaved lad, but I wish he told – whether it be on the pitch, or in the locker-room – our starboy what I’m sure he’s thinking about this.
    I’m not so sure about our bossing the midfield, TA. Yes, the individual performances (Tom, Granit, Oleks, Martin) were good, but overall I find the parts they’re playin’ a little too clearcut, easily readable for a shrewd manager. I’m thinkin’ about Granit-Tom in particular, Granit being the one who makes the runs through the midfield-defense of the opponents, while Tom remains behind, like an anchor keeping our ship from drifting too much. I like Tom, I’ve warmed up to him a lot, but I do wish we had by Granit’s side another player with the ability to play both parts, and if we stepped up for Bellingham next summer, then that’d be a buy I’d get enthusiastic about.
    I like your idea of a loan, much more than the prospect of bowing down to the demands of Donetsk’s mobsters, or making the Mendes bunch wealthier. Neither of Sambi-Fabio-Marquinhos were brought on, so this is all the assessment we need about them: MA doesn’t think they cut the grade, which I, for one, won’t argue with. For these three, Oxford will be the ultimate test to make Mikel change his mind, I guess.
    Now, soon enough we’ll get Emil, Reiss, and GJ9 back, and if the first two had been fit, available, and on the bench, I’m pretty sure they’d have been given quite a runout; I also think Cozier-Duberry is already better than Marquinhos. But to get back to the “loan” idea, I’ve been wonderin’ for quite a while what’s becoming of Sancho at Utd. The kid’s unhappy over there, that’s for sure, but I’m amazed that everyone in England looks like they’ve given up on him. The lad’s only 22, and he scored 38 goals for Dortmund between the ages of 17 and 20, ffs!! How can he be not given another chance? I believe Mick’s Arsenal would be the perfect place for him to get it – rumour has it he’s even been best pals with Reiss for years. Bring him on!
    Now, “V”, thanks for turnin’ up.
    Come Saturday, May 6th; I, for one, will remember your post, believe me.
    Toon Toon

  • I have an unpopular opinion on the VAR incident(s), which I wouldn’t have shared in order not to upset TA, but since OMG staked his claim, I really must come clean.

    First, was it a fair result that both teams got 1 point each? I don’t think so. Would it have been righteous if we win the game? Hell no. The ‘fairest’ result would have been if Newcastle snatched a point and we took 2, but that scenario was not on the table, so it had to be one of the unjust outcomes.

    Regarding VAR, it is not an institution to assure that the best decisions are made. It is an institution to prevent the bad decisions from distorting games; and that is a really important distinction. Some situations are indeed black or white, therefore there is a clearly correct and incorrect decision. In those cases VAR could be popular, as it rights a wrong in the rare case of a flawed call (see our penalty decision revoked against West Ham, as it wasn’t in fact handball in the 45th minute). Similarly, offsides are binary incidents, the attacking players is either on or off side.

    However there are plenty of cases where the interpretation of the incident is rather grey than black or white. It’s more of a “out of 10 referees X would make the call”. Worst case scenario X=5, so it really depends on the referee’s habits, mood or even line of sight. But even if X is 3 or 7, VAR would not challenge the decision. It wouldn’t – and unfortunately in our current case: it shouldn’t – help, as VAR is expected to intervene only when there was a clear and obvious error.

    Say whatever you want, neither of our claims yesterday was a clear and obvious penalty. They were incidents where penalties are often awarded, but that is not enough to stop the game and review the case. Important: VAR didn’t say that the play was fair; if the referee would have pointed to the spot the VAR officer wouldn’t have turned that around either. These were cases where whatever the ref has decided would stay. Apart from offside claims and handballs, this is the default setting for incidents inside the box. And even at actual handballs there are mitigating circumstances to take into consideration, so I withdraw the category from the black and white list.

    I don’t think there is an anti-Arsenal bias here, but I am not an expert from 1700 km. However if there was, it was performed by the referee, not the VAR official.

  • It is okay to be forthright with your thoughts and views about stuff, PB and this is a fair position. Where you miss it is being consistent with your own words on the role of VAR: an institution to assure the best decisions are made!

    If Gabriel had is shirt pulled in the centre circle, being held back from reaching the ball, that’s a yellow (the Ref on the day, overly demonstrated that); it is even more critical when this happens in the box. The VAR has a job to call the ref’s attention to such unseen incidents, even stopping the game to apply necessary action. So, the question is why was there not even a review of that incident, real time? Why was it only brought to the attention of viewing fans, almost 5 minutes after? Every pundit thought that was the wrong call and bashed the VaR for failing to do his job.

    For me, that stinks to high heavens. I can ignore the handball incident because it can be argued Murphy was not looking, but his arms prevented the trajectory of that cross and was not in a natural position. 7 out of 10 refs will give that against Arsenal.

  • For what it’s worth I share your opinion PB, I’ve looked at referee watch several times and one incident was shown as 50/50 and the other as the game referee making the correct decision.

  • I get your point, Eris. And I respect your opinion; unlike those of the pundits’. And in a fictitious world when the referee would revisit and aggregate his past decisions we should have been awarded a penalty, because the Gabriel incident was a 80% and the handball is – let’s say – 25%. What I’m trying to say is that as far as I (and Gary Neville) know the acting VAR directive told by Howard Webb is “if it’s a light touch, don’t get involved unless you really have to”. And there is a lot of room for interpret “really” beyond anti-Arsenal conspiracies. It is easy to say that shirt tugging is always a fault with an automatic yellow card, but we see countless times that players do that nevertheless, and sometimes they get away. Mostly when the opponent doesn’t go to ground, or not close enough to influence the play, so there are many notable exceptions. And from the referee point of view it is really difficult to affect the game in such extent at the very end. And if the referee decides not to intervene, it is even harder for the VAR-official to challenge the referee if the touch on the player was indeed light, or it prevented an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

    There is a column where such situations are reviewed and evaluated. Usually the experts (former referees) assess whether these were right calls or bad decisions. In this case the consulting ex-referee (Dermot Gallagher) couldn’t come to a conclusion and said 50-50: “But when you consider how they want VAR to operate now, I can understand why it wasn’t given.”
    https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12780414/ref-watch-was-mikel-arteta-right-should-arsenal-have-been-awarded-scandalous-penalties

  • Crystal Palace v Southampton H
    Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley * H (2-0)
    Brentford v West Ham United H
    Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers H
    Manchester City v Chelsea * H (3-0)
    Villarreal v Real Madrid * H (2-1)

  • A great comment, Legall. Will have a look at Bukayos apparent lack of willingness to give Ben the ball. Le Blanc does those runs to give Bukayo another option and to occupy defenders. In general Saka is very efficient in his choices but it is something I will have a look at now that you pointed it out.

  • Great background info on VAR, PB.

    I am only asking for consistency and the refs plus VAR were meant to deliver this. They are not and this is to do with a faulty system/approach. I do not care whether an end result is fair or not when it comes to VAR. This is irrelevant. Arsenal deserved to win the game but that’s not the point.

    The point is that on other occasions teams got a penalty for the fouls that were committed against us, but we did not get a single penalty. This is crap and it will only change if the VAR is managed by a third, independent party. Simplify the rules and no inconsistencies.

  • Guys, I wish I could say you’re wrong, but you are right.
    Did we lost valuable points in the past by unfavorable decisions (interpreting a ‘light’ touch, or ‘really necessary’ to be involved) against us? Yes, for sure.
    Does that mean that we should be demanding that similar errors (or let’s say flexibility) should be demonstrated in our favor? Probably yes.
    Still, when I see it as if it were 2 neutral or indifferent teams to me, I would prefer to avoid awarding penalties when the teams cannot settle the fight with the conventional methods.

    By the way, according to Understat the game was almost unbelievably balanced, with Newcastle having an xG of 0.96, and Arsenal 0.97. The main difference was that Newcastle had one huge chance from Joelinton (xG: 0,47) while we had a handful of minor chances between 0.03 and 0.12 xG.

    Le Gall, I share your view that Cozier-Duberry is in an excellent front right now, and despite his majestic start of the season (both in PL2 and EL) Marquinhos is in a bad place. Yet, I think they could deputize ESR and Vieira now – assuming they will start against Oxford – or maybe even involved, and after that they could go on loan. It wouldn’t make sense to keep them here (irrespective of the size of the available squad) knowing they wouldn’t be playing even in case of an emergency. And I don’t see Mikel trusting them in competitive games. Hell, even playing Vieira and ESR is a big step for Arteta knowing his view on rotation.

  • City just made changes and found a goal from one of the subs. That’s what we need over the next two windows.

  • Hutchinson is on for Chelsea. Fairy tale introduction if he goes on to get a goal….the equaliser even.

    Auba didn’t look too interested when he came on, to be fair, and has been rightly taken off.

  • Lol, PB. Thanks for the “vote of confidence” over seasoned pundits. I rely on my own opinions more, to be honest, which is why I find it hard to excuse the inconsistent refereeing in the EPL. When it affects the club I support, that level of angst goes up a notch.
    I like the way Arteta has got the team believing in their own abilities again and not dwelling in the past. Our boys are looking past that game/incidents, so I shall do the same.

  • Iam wading into the VAR here and stating my oft repeated view again. The best way to use the VAR is to make the line calls meanig the offside and Goal line checks which should be mandatory. When it comes to penalty calls, i believe the call should be made by the on field refree and the teams should get 3 chances to ask for a review. Each review should be asked within 10 sec of the incident by the captain. Game should be stopped and VAR takes over with the complete conversation between onfield refree and VAR should be made transparent to viewers. If the review is successfull then the the review will retain the count else they will have one less count of reviews. This is firmly beleive will stop all dicussions on VAR.
    It will completely become the prerogative of the team to invoke VAR. I firmly beleive the diver in the penalty box know what he is doing so if penalty is denied he will never ask for a review. Suppose he takes a chance he should be made aware that he may be booked for simulation if the review is unsuccessful.
    So in the instance of Gabriel shirt pulling if Gaby is confident then he will ask Ode to call for a review. The discussion with onfield refree and VAR will be transparent to all viewers. If the VaR says that the shirt pulling is not serious enough let the viewers listen to that conclusion and make their own conclusions.
    I firmly believe that this way VaR becomes transparent and each team gets to be the master of their own destiny leaving the refree to actually do his job rather than worry about VAR.

  • Continuing from my last post, I used to watch a lot of test cricket and invariably most post match discussions surrounded on umpiring decisions. With the advent of VAR equivalent in Cricket which probably is the only thing that ICC ever got it right the umpiring decisions are not even mentioned. The way video assisted refereeing was bought into cricket and evolution to what it is today has been a real boon to the game. It’s effectively reduced a lot of pressure on the umpires and standards have increased a lot.
    Admittedly refereeing a football game is entirely different and more difficult but I firmly belive that giving prerogative to teams to ask for reviews and transparency whole arriving at the decisions will reduce a lot of pressure on refereeing. After game refree trashing will reduce to a lot of extent.
    Another benefit of reviews is the complete change in behaviour of the players. Knowing that they are responsible for the challenges and outcome there off will make players behave differently and less aggressively towards referees.

  • Good point of view, Madhu. Anything to make it more transparent and leading to the correct decision will be welcome. Plus, there is the small matter of reducing time taken to carry out VAR reviews….

  • Maybe you remember, a few months back we’ve been debating – especially with Kev – whether Omari Hutchinson’s surprise (free) transfer to Chelsea was motivated by greed, playing opportunities or other professional reasons, as well as if it will turn out well for him or not.

    At least now we know the answer to that.

  • Thanks Eris, Total and Le gall. Apparently PGMOL is meeting all clubs may be some changes may happen next season. Least they could do is it allow the audio conversations between on field refree and VAR is made transparent to viewers.

  • With Howard Webb back and in charge now, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

  • Arteta’s touchline antics led to criticism from swathes of the media.

    In particular, former Sky anchor Keys, now of beIN Sports in Qatar, was scathing of Arteta’s behaviour.

    “Seriously – when is someone going to get control of Mikel Arteta?” Keys asked on Twitter. “He’s an embarrassment. Totally out of control during games.”

    The broadcaster revisited the argument hours later while discussing other matters, claiming “His pitchside behaviour is the scandal – nothing else.”

    Keown critical of Keys

    Former Arsenal centre-back Keown defended Arteta’s touchline behaviour and was critical of Keys in the process.

    When asked on TalkSPORT if Arteta had crossed the line during Arsenal’s draw with Newcastle, Keown claimed: “It didn’t offend me.

    “Who was it, Richard Keys? Is he still working Richard? I think Richard’s had a little go. What’s he having a go at?

    “I think he’s just trying to create a headline because he’s on the other side of the world and no one’s really listening.

    “But Arteta knows how to behave and he’s been outstanding in what he’s done this season.

    “They’re a million miles from winning something because Man City find a way – that’s what you’re up against – and they’re ten years ahead in terms of what they’ve been building. Nevertheless, I think Arsenal are doing really well.”

    TalkSPORT presenter Alex Crook subsequently said, “That was an audio equivalent of a two-footed Keown tackle by the way” to which Keown responded, “I hope he’s listening.”

    On Arteta’s enthusiastic touchline decorum, the Gunners legend added: “I’m not going to tell him how to behave. I want a bit of passion.

    “I certainly don’t think the manager is a clown. People saying that is absolutely ridiculous. He’s full of passion, he’s been quite brilliant all season.

    “He’s the one, he’s the catalyst. He’s driving, he’s pushing. You can see that energy. He energises his team to go and match that enthusiasm on the touchline.

    “Yes, of course, he has to keep a lid on things.”

  • GN5, here you go. What are the rules of the FA cup at this stage of the competition, with regards games ending in a draw? Extra time? Penalty shootout? How would scored predictions be rated in such circumstances?

    Crystal Palace v Southampton H
    Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley * A (1-2)
    Brentford v West Ham United H
    Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers A
    Manchester City v Chelsea * A (1-2)
    Villarreal v Real Madrid * A (1-3)

  • I, absolutely, love Arteta,’s passion on the touchline. I’d be worried if my manager isn’t showing the players he wants it as much as they do. In the heat of a crucial game, it is hard to keep your cool if you feel hard done by, considering some iffy bits of officiating.

  • Crystal Palace v Southampton H
    Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley * H (1-2)
    Brentford v West Ham United A
    Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers H
    Manchester City v Chelsea * H (2-0)
    Villarreal v Real Madrid * A (0-4)

  • Some good thoughts there, Madhu. A captains challenge is helpful in cricket, as you will be well aware.

    Re: Mikel’s touchline behaviour. I get it. His passionate intensity is testament to a number of things. His character (he was like this on the pitch), his Latino heritage (somewhat stereotypical I appreciate), his role model (Pep). But I think the biggest factors are his strong sense of justice, and the recognition that the season may come down to one point deciding the premiership. If that Newcastle game had been the last game of the season and we had to win it to be champions, every Gooner on the planet would have responded like Mikel did. The OGAAT mantra is embedded in his DNA and he sees every game as a potential championship decider. The league is not lost on the last day of the season, it is moments like we saw against NFC where VAR failed miserably. Mikel knows this and hence is as he is.
    He and the whole team carry the pain of last seasons poor finish, a pain which is being harnessed to drive them on. Get in there, son.

  • Thanks Stuart
    Regarding Mikels touchline antics all I can say is that Arteta reacts like any other fan. Dare I say if the cameras can reach fans when they watch the game Richard keys will have a field day. Smashing one’s own TV is probably the only thing fans refrain from. So we should be happy that our manager is first a fan and hence the emotions gets better if him.
    Iam sure as he matures he will handle it well. As long as his emotions doesn’t affect his judgement during the game we dokt care what Richard Keys or anyone else says. Mikel having played the game at the highest level knows what he is doing, so Mr Keys can go shove it up his own.

  • Arteta is equivalent to raw passion and involvement. Nobody can say that Mikel is not alive and kicking. As the Beasty Boys tell us: you got to fight for your right to Party.

    OX10, Stu, any chance of giving us a bit of background info on Monday’s opponent (I think you both lived there for a while, or still do in OXs case)?

  • Eris,

    Here are the FA rules on drawn matches.

    In simple terms, if the original match between two sides finishes as a draw, it will then be replayed at the opposition’s ground. 

    In a statement from the FA before the season, they explained: “Replays will be mandatory in all rounds of the qualifying competition and the competition proper from the first round proper up to and including the fourth round proper.”

    That follows the usual FA Cup replay guidelines as replays were scrapped for the FA Cup fifth round in 2018/19, quarter-finals in 2016/17, for semifinals in 1999/2000 and for the final in 1998/99 previously.

    If the second match between the two sides also ends in a draw, the tie will then go to extra time and penalties.

    What are the FA Cup extra time rules?

    If both sides are still level after two matches — the original fixture and the replay — FA Cup rules state that extra time will then follow. 

    In the case of the FA Cup, extra time will last 30 minutes, and if the score is still level at the end of that period, games will go to a penalty shootout.

    During the shootout, both teams will see who can score more out of an initial five penalties, and if they are still level after that, penalties using the sudden-death rule will then be taken.

    In simple terms, during sudden death, the first team to go ahead after an equal number of penalties have been taken wins the tie.

    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    For this round nobody has predicted a draw.

    According to the rules draws are allowed up to and including the 4th round.

    From the 5th round forward games must be finished on game day, so at this point forward nobody should predict draws.

    The predicted score after completion of replays will count – an extra goal will be added to the team that wins in the case of penalties or shoot out’s.

  • City 6 Arsenal 0 !!!
    Dramatic setback for our U21s – all the more so since Ali had picked a strong side (Walters, Sousa, Smith, Cozier-Duberry, Butler-Oyedeji, …). At the beginning of the WTW, these kids picked exactly the wrong time to collapse. Some might have been distracted by the perspective of a January loan/transfer … we’ll know about this soon enough.
    Marcus McGuane might start in Oxford midfield against us, Not so long ago, he used to be one of our most brilliant prospects. If one player has reasons to shine Monday night, that’s him for sure, even though the club had nothing to be blamed for in his case – the kid just gave in to terrible career advice if my memory serves me well.
    Charlie P. played 70 minutes for the Blackpool side that thrashed Forest 4-1 this afternoon. Attaboy.

  • Hi Total. I cannot shed any light on the Oxford United team. My home was in St Albans in Hertfordshire and that was back in the ’80’s. They sit two leagues below us in 15th place and my best mate here (a long time Oxford fan) feels they will be “up for the cup” but he wouldn’t risk a beer on the outcome of the match.
    Sounds like ESR will be involved in the match which is wonderful news for him, the team and we fans.

  • Wow … and Wow, again.
    Nick Kent might have moved on, but there’s still well-functioning ears at good ol’ NME, I see.

  • Great news for you and your saucepan lid Total, fingers crossed she cracks the big time…

  • Wow! That’s such huge news for you and the family, TA. Nice going to the group.

    Looks like we play away to the winners of the City v Chelsea clash, if we beat Oxford United in the FA Cup. United are being set up to go for it with some soft home fixtures….. Yeah, I said it.

  • City are smashing Chelsea, so far. 3-0 in only the first half. I thought sacking Tuchel would be a mistake, but what do I care? London is Red!

  • Fab news, Total. Give your daughter warmest congratulations from all in the Angus household. Perhaps she might put her talents towards writing a terrace song for the Arsenal? There is a pathway there, NME top one hundred, cover of the Rolling Stone, being sung by Gooners at the Grove.

    Mighty Stevenage!

  • DB10’s 100th goal for the Arsenal came against Oxford in the Cup back in 2003.

  • LeGall, thanks for the beaver video. My son loved it (he adores everything if animals are involved), but I couldn’t really put it into football context.

    TA, kudos to your daughter’s band. That is quite some acknowledgement.

  • I put it into context for my wife and … she got my point, P.!!
    Well, she also couldn’t help telling me that in the end the corridor looked just like my room when she met me … as well as adding whether I didn’t find it just a little strange that, according to me, Arsenal should have:
    WON
    ALL
    the games they ‘ve played, in the 30-something years we’ve known each other …

  • Appalling game in Madrid
    Hadn’t seen Felix play in along time, I’d rather not say what I think of his “performance”

  • From Twitter:
    BREAKING: Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk have agreed that Mykhailo Mudryk was born on 5 January 2001.

  • Sounds like we are married to the same woman, LG.

    Hmmm, Kev, a propitious date and year! On that day we beat Watford 4-2 in the FA Cup, that season we won the double and signed big Sol.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s