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Arsenal news: Every controversial Arsenal VAR decision this season

Anthony Gordon, Martin Odegaard, Arsenal, Newcastle, 2023/24

VAR has been an inherently controversial addition to the Premier League since it was introduced ahead of the 2019-20 season and Arsenal have been on the end of several dubious calls.

The Gunners have seen decisions go for and against them since VAR was introduced and this season has been no different.

Below, FootballTransfers runs through every controversial VAR decision involving Arsenal during the 2023-24 season.


Arsenal 3-1 Man Utd (3 September 2023): Alejandro Garnacho offside goal

In the dying embers of Man Utd’s trip to the Emirates Stadium, Casemiro played Alejandro Garncho through on goal and the Argentine slotted home masterfully, before his joy was cut short.

The goal was ruled out for offside by VAR after countless replays, and Erik ten Hag was angered immensely by the choice of camera angle, with the Dutchman claiming that Garnacho was actually onside. The controversy was only added to by the fact it happened so late in the match.

Arsenal then managed to score two goals in stoppage time to secure all three points themselves.

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 4, 2023

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham (24 September 2023): Christian Romero handball

This incident divided opinion online. Although the ball clearly hit Christian Romero’s arm, it was from close range and Gary Neville said on commentary: “When VAR look at it 25 times, it means they are not sure. His arm is low, so not for me, but it will be given. We are all so unsure.”

Several fans called the decision “harsh” on social media, but the ball did strike Romero’s hand, meaning a penalty was the right decision under the current laws of the game.

Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal (23 December 2023): Martin Odegaard handball

In arguably the biggest game of the season, Liverpool hosted Arsenal in a crucial match in the Premier League title race.

A 1-1 draw was probably a fair result given the chances both teams had, although Liverpool will feel they should’ve won the match after Trent Alexander-Arnold missed a huge second-half chance and Martin Odegaard wasn’t punished for an almost-certain penalty.

The Gunners midfielder handled the ball inside the Arsenal penalty area at Anfield, but he wasn’t penalised by the on-field referee or VAR.

A deflected Alexander-Arnold free-kick fell to the feet of Mohamed Salah just outside the penalty area, and he poked the ball to the side of Odegaard, only for the Norwegian to block the ball using his arm.

The apparent reason for why Odegaard escaped serious punishment was because he slipped and was putting his hand towards the ground to catch his fall, despite the fact he seemed to swipe the ball away with his hand.

After the match, Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Theo Walcott were bemused why Odegaard wasn’t punished and Liverpool manager Klopp explained his frustration during his post-match interview.

“The penalty situation was a strange one,” he said. I don’t know if the referee saw it, but you look at it and I’m not sure how you can say it’s not a penalty.

“I would like somebody to explain to me how that is not handball, but I don’t know how he can do it. I’m not saying the referee saw it because I have no idea where he was at that moment, that’s a different question.

“But when somebody is sitting in front of the monitors, how can he not come to the conclusion that maybe a penalty should be given? Look at it.”


Arsenal 3-1 Man Utd (3 September 2023): Kai Havertz penalty

Arsenal were initially awarded a penalty after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was adjudged to have fouled Kai Havertz inside the 18-yard box. However, referee Anthony Taylor was told to look at the incident again on the VAR monitor before opting to rule out Arsenal’s penalty.

The Premier League’s key match incidents panel decided that overturning Taylor’s on-field penalty award was incorrect, despite the fact that Mike Dean believed that VAR intervened well.

Newcastle 1-0 Arsenal (4 November 2023): Anthony Gordon goal

This was one of the most controversial goals of the season. Multiple issues arose in the build-up to Anthony Gordon’s goal, including whether the ball was out of play before Joe Willock’s cross, whether Joelinton fouled Gabriel Magalhaes and whether Gordon was onside.

The former two were the most contentious, with many arguing the ball had gone out of play and many outraged that Joelinton wasn’t judged to have fouled Gabriel.

After the match, Mikel Arteta told Sky Sports: “We didn’t deserve to lose the match, and we didn’t lose the match… because of the clear and obvious decisions. It’s embarrassing. It’s a disgrace. That’s what it is. It’s a disgrace.”

Read more about: Premier League, Arsenal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Alejandro Garnacho, Anthony Gordon, Bukayo Saka, Cristian Romero, Gabriel Magalhaes, Joe Willock, Joelinton, Martin Odegaard

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