April 14, 2021

Arteta cries foul as Arsenal share points with Burnley

Arteta cries foul as Arsenal share points with Burnley

Erik Pieters was at the centre of two handball decisions that were not given during Burnley versus Arsenal Premier League match yesterday<br />Photo: BBCSports

Arsenal was denied victory by the woodwork, some heroic Burnley defending and the video assistant referee amid a dramatic late onslaught as Granit Xhaka’s error ultimately cost the Gunners dear.

After Xhaka’s errant pass struck Chris Wood for a bizarre equaliser to cancel out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener, Arsenal piled on relentless pressure in the closing stages.

The Gunners thought they had been awarded a penalty against Erik Pieters but the spot-kick and the defender’s red card for deliberate handball were overturned by VAR after replays showed he had diverted Nicolas Pepe’s shot onto the bar with his shoulder.

That was not the end of the late drama as Ben Mee’s block denied Aubameyang a sure-fire winner in stoppage time before Calum Chambers crashed an effort against the post in his first league start for 14 months.

Ultimately, however, the blame for the dropped points will be laid at the door of Xhaka, who was sent off in the Gunners’ December defeat by Burnley and had another day to forget against the Clarets.

Receiving a short pass facing his own goal from keeper Bernd Leno, he tried to clip a square ball to David Luiz across the penalty area but succeeded only in hitting Wood in the midriff and the ball bounced into an empty net for the softest of levellers.

Buoyed by the unexpected gift, Burnley controlled a scrappy second half before Arsenal’s late siege but Leno first produced a fine save to keep out Erik Pieters’ dipping 30-yard volley, and then used his leg to deny Wood in a one-on-one.

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A fifth successive home draw inches 15th-placed Burnley seven points clear of the Premier League bottom three, while Arsenal remain 10th, their hopes of a late push for European qualification hindered by two dropped points.

While VAR reached the correct decision in reversing Andre Marriner’s call to penalise and dismiss Pieters, Arsenal will have felt the technology should earlier have been used in their favour against the same player.

Pieters’ arm appeared to have been outstretched when he handled Nicolas Pepe’s cross midway through the second half but VAR official Kevin Friend saw no reason to bring the incident to Marriner’s attention.

“If the first one is not a penalty honestly someone has to come to the training ground and explain what a handball is. It cannot be any clearer,” said frustrated Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.”We hit the bar and the post, they cleared the ball off the line but they defend those situations well – and it is down to us not getting the three points.”

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