First of all, I’m not one who’s keen to blame the refs. I believe that in the end, adjustments can be made and the ref is a very ineffective scapegoat. That being said, it’s undeniable that they can impact a game one way or the other. Ten yellow cards is far too much for any fixture, especially when they were called as inconsistently as they were today.
Laurent Kocielny felt the brunt of the unjust refereeing, as he was unfairly given a yellow card in the box for a perfectly executed tackle, then given a second in the 67′ for bringing his leg up a tad too high. Both fouls combined should not have equaled a yellow card.
The worst tackle of the game came in the 30′ against Aston Villa‘s Ron Vlaar, who just plain decked Jack Wilshere long after he’d passed the ball. It should have been an immediate red card, but instead, Wilshere was given a yellow card for talking too much. Essentially, the ref made Vlaar’s and Wilshere’s fouls equal by the duel yellow’s which is completely ludicrous.
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny was guilty of a penalty, but the ref played the advantage and Andreas Weimann put off a shot on an empty net and missed. That should have been the end of the play, but referee Anthony Taylor decided that a wide open shot on goal was not advantage enough, and gave the penalty anyways. Originally saved, Christian Benteke got a fortunate bounce and put the rebound in.
Arsenal should have had a 1-0 advantage throughout the game, but between the one questionable and the one outrageous penalties, plus sending Arsenal down to 10-men, Taylor clearly thought it was more important to let his impact be felt on the game than to see how the two teams would have fared had he let them play.
After Villa’s third goal, the crowd turned from being angry at Anthony Taylor to being angry at Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger. There has been an outcry for Wenger to spend his immense fortune on a prolific player, but it would be hasty to do so now. The game didn’t go their way, but it wasn’t due to Arsenal’s performance.
Hopefully this game won’t force Wenger into any hasty signings. Given his track record, it won’t.