Arsenal won a penalty in highly controversial circumstances against West Ham United on Wednesday night.
In an electrically-charged London derby at Emirates Stadium, Mikel Arteta’s men had the opportunity to go 2-0 up in the second-half when they received a spot kick as West Ham went down to 10 men.
A Thierry Henry-like finish from Gabriel Martinelli had fired the Gunners into the lead shortly after the break when Alexandre Lacazette was presented with the chance to double that advantage from 12 yards out.
Controversial Arsenal penalty
However, the manner in which Arsenal‘s captain was even awarded the penalty in the first place was certainly controversial with Vladimír Coufal picking up what seemed to be a harsh second booking.
The Hammers defender looked to have gotten more than enough contact on the ball while tackling Lacazette in the box to suggest that Anthony Taylor’s decision to give a penalty would be annulled.
But alas, VAR didn’t save the day for David Moyes’ men in a refereeing call that was widely panned as one of the worst seen this season across social media.
Arsenal 2-0 West Ham Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Anger at the penalty decision
Nizaar Kinsella remarked on Twitter: “Penalties are all of a sudden very easy to win. It seems a crazy decision at Arsenal.”
And Bianca Westwood similarly bemoaned: “If the Coufal decision isn’t a clear & obvious error I don’t know what is. VAR stinks.”
While Toby Cudworth vented: “NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST HE GOT IT WRONG?! Coufal got the ball cleanly. Absolutely unbelievable.”
In the end, karma appeared to prevail with Lukasz Fabianski making a fine penalty save against his former club, but you can join the debate on the original decision by watching the incident below:
Yup, it’s easy to see why so many fans are annoyed by the decision.
An undoubtedly harsh decision
At the end of the day, it depends on how harsh you like your penalties because the moral of the story is that Coufal got to the ball first regardless of what you think about the subsequent contact.
Is the resulting followthrough on Lacazette’s shin enough to send a player off and give a penalty when they initially won the tackle? You really can’t help feeling as though it’s a little over the top.
However, even in a world where we want those sorts of challenges to be given as spot-kicks, surely there was enough doubt for VAR to advise that Taylor had a second look before the call was ratified.
Maybe we’ll just have to reassure ourselves that Arsenal’s overall performance was so convincing that the penalty debacle didn’t particularly affect West Ham’s ability to get anything from the game.
In the end, Emile Smith Rowe was able to double Arsenal’s advantage as they claimed three precious Premier League points at the expense of their London neighbours.