VAR call helps Arse­nal se­cure draw

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

MANCH­ESTER, Eng­land (AP) — A video re­view tinged with con­tro­versy plunged Manch­ester United to its worst seven-game start to a league sea­son in 30 years.

The as­sis­tant ref­eree’s flag was al­ready raised for off­side when Arse­nal striker Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang chipped a deft fin­ish past United goal­keeper David De Gea in the 58th minute of a fre­netic and er­ror-strewn Premier League game be­tween the two old ri­vals on Mon­day.

When the goal was re­viewed by VAR, the re­play showed Aubameyang was clearly be­ing played on­side by United de­fender Harry Maguire, di­rectly in front of the as­sis­tant ref­eree. The de­ci­sion was over­turned and Arse­nal had its equal­izer in 1-1 draw at Old Traf­ford.

United man­ager Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer com­plained to the fourth of­fi­cial in the tech­ni­cal area, say­ing the ref­eree had al­ready blown his whis­tle be­fore Aubameyang took his shot. De Gea said af­ter the match that he had been dis­tracted by the on-field call.

“Of course,” the goal­keeper said. “It’s eas­ier if the lines­man keeps the flag down.”

The com­plaints can­not change the fact that United, the most pres­ti­gious team in Eng­land, is lan­guish­ing in 10th place and has fewer points — nine — af­ter seven games than in any sea­son since 1989. It has not scored more than one goal in any of its last seven matches in all com­pe­ti­tions.

“This is Manch­ester United, so we have to win these games,” De Gea said. “The lads have to re­act and play bet­ter than they are do­ing.”

If only United had a striker as clin­i­cal as Aubameyang, who be­came the first Arse­nal player to score seven goals in the first seven games of a Premier League cam­paign since Den­nis Bergkamp in the 1997-98 sea­son.

His only real chance of the game came out of noth­ing, with United de­fender Axel Tuanzebe giv­ing the ball away with a mis­placed pass in front of his own area. Bukayo Saka played a first-time pass for­ward to Aubameyang, who cut in­side and ap­plied the fin­ish.

“I was sure I was not off­side. I was sur­prised the ref­eree whis­tled,” Aubameyang said. “I al­ways try to score even if there is a whis­tle from the ref­eree.”

It can­celed out United’s open­ing goal by Scott McTom­i­nay in firsthalf stop­page time, the mid­fielder’s shot from the edge of the area tak­ing a slight de­flec­tion off the shoul­der of Arse­nal de­fender Sokratis and fly­ing into the roof of the net.

United fin­ished the stronger, with Paul Pogba curl­ing a shot just wide and McTom­i­nay head­ing over from a cor­ner when un­marked in front of goal.

Still, it was yet more dis­ap­point­ment for Sol­sk­jaer, who has won just four of 15 league games since be­ing hired on a full-time ba­sis in March.

“We need to be more cyn­i­cal, clin­i­cal, at both ends of the pitch. We’ll learn,” Sol­sk­jaer said. “I thought to­day we are go­ing some­where.”

Tra­di­tion­ally one of the big­gest matches in English soc­cer, this Man United-Arse­nal fix­ture pit­ted the teams in 11th and eighth places, re­spec­tively, at kick­off. In­deed, United had never been as low down the stand­ings head­ing into a match against Arse­nal in the his­tory of the Premier League.

The poor qual­ity on show high­lighted how far the teams had fallen, with a slip­pery sur­face on a wet night in Manch­ester hardly help­ing.

“Thoughts on the game so far with­out us­ing a bad word?” for­mer Arse­nal mid­fielder Cesc Fabre­gas tweeted dur­ing the first half. “Try to be creative.”

Even United’s goal in first-half stop­page time had a touch of the far­ci­cal about it, with Granit Xhaka — Arse­nal’s re­cently con­firmed full­time cap­tain — duck­ing his head as McTom­i­nay took aim and the ball fly­ing past him and high into the net.

It meant the game opened up in the sec­ond half, with Arse­nal com­mit­ting more play­ers for­ward and show­ing more in­ten­sity with their press­ing.

Still, that can hardly ex­cuse Tuanzebe, fill­ing in out of po­si­tion at left back in his first league start for United since May 2017, for his mis­placed pass that led to Aubameyang’s equal­izer.

It was enough to lift Arse­nal into fourth place, above West Ham on goal dif­fer­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.