Arsenal were battered from pillar to post by Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night.
While the north London derby is a tense affair at the best of times, the pressure was ramped up even more by the fact that both teams are scrapping it out for Champions League qualification.
Tottenham thrash Arsenal
And it was Spurs who took a huge step towards Europe’s premier competition with a stunning 3-0 victory in the Premier League courtesy of Harry Kane’s brace and a Heung-min Son strike.
All in all, there could be no denying that Antonio Conte’s men were deserving of the win as they really took the game to Arsenal with a high-octane approach at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
However, that doesn’t mean that the game wasn’t without controversy because there were more than a few Gooners still feeling a sense of injustice once the final whistle blew on a 3-0 humbling.
After all, there were two huge refereeing decisions that undoubtedly contributed to the final result: Tottenham’s penalty for the opening goal and Rob Holding’s red card with the score at 1-0.
Tottenham 3-0 Arsenal Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Mark Clattenburg reviews key decisions
So, were they the correct decisions? Spurs and Arsenal fans will most certainly have their own opinions on the matter, but let’s not pretend as though the experts don’t know better than us all.
And luckily, former Premier League and Champions League final referee Mark Clattenburg has already sunk his teeth into the two decisions at the heart of Tottenham’s win over Arsenal.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Clattenburg came out in defence of Paul Tierney’s call to send off Holding, but was a little less sure about awarding a penalty for Cedric Soares’ ‘nudge’ on Son.
Reflecting on the spot-kick that opened the floodgates for Spurs, Clattenburg reflected: “This was a defining decision in a match with so much riding on the result and I’m not sure I would have given this.
“Technically, Paul Tierney wasn’t wrong. We were shown a replay of what the referee could see from behind and it looked like a nudge in the back from Cedric Soares on Son Heung-min.
“But if we’re going to give this as a penalty, I could find plenty of other examples when the same ‘foul’ has occurred in the box in other games.
“The inconsistency is frustrating because when this happens next week in another Premier League game, will it be given? Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Tierney considered it a clear foul and Harry Kane said thank you very much.”
Very interesting. It seems to be one of those decisions that falls into a grey area where the referee technically wasn’t wrong, but it’s probably not practical to always give penalties in that way.
Rob Holding’s red card
But don’t dwell on grey areas for too long because there’s no such thing when it comes to Holding’s red card with Clattenburg nodding his head at the decision to send him packing.
The former official said: “Although referees allow a degree of feistiness in these derbies, Tierney finally lost patience with Holding and booked him for his third foul on Son, this time for pulling back his opponent.
“Given he was already on a yellow, it was therefore stupid of Holding to block Son’s run using an elevated arm.
“Antonio Conte’s teams love making it so that the referee has decisions to make. Holding fell for it hook, line and sinker, and his naivety sank Arsenal.”
Bad to WORSE for Arsenal… RED CARD 🟥— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 12, 2022
Rob Holding catches Son and gets a second yellow! pic.twitter.com/Y0j6VHvPfd
Pretty hard to argue with that…
What about this, Mark?
However, one decision that Arsenal fans might wish that Clattenburg had talked about once again involved Holding and Son, but this time with the Gunners defender potentially proving the victim.
That’s because viral footage is doing the rounds on Twitter of what many Gooners believe is Son elbowing Holding in the face, leading some to even claim that he should have been sent off himself.
Truth be told, claims that a red card should have been whipped out feel a little bit over the top, but you can see why Arsenal supporters were feeling aggrieved when you watch the video below:
Nothing about this?? pic.twitter.com/kFPY5v2Mcv— GoonerViews (@GoonerViews) May 12, 2022
Trust one of the most important north London derbies in history to be chock-a-block with controversy!