Luis – On The Emirates and Turf Moor

Friday, 29 March 2024 | News, Match Reports, In Focus

VAR. So draining. It’s a concept that should work but as the great Edwin Starr almost sang though, VAR… huh, yeah huh. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing (say it again)  
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Arsenal 2; Brentford 1; 09 March 2024

A couple of concerning cases of inability caused Brentford a late 2-1 defeat at The Emirates Stadium, allowing the home side to top the Premier League table and make rumblings of the ‘r’ word gain volume in even the most optimistic of Bees fans’ thoughts.
The bitterest pill of inability to swallow, was that of the referee and linesman failing to show a second yellow card to Kai Havertz for the most pathetic dive since Penny Mordaunt appeared on reality TV show Splash! Anyone not affiliated with the Gunners or the matchday officials was united in their belief Havertz should not have been on the pitch to head home the late winner. It’s becoming increasingly harder to argue against those saying the ‘big’ decisions in this league always go to the ‘big’ clubs.
However, the fact both goals again came from crosses should be the inability Thomas Frank and staff focussed on back at Jersey Road. Eighteen goals conceded from headers is the worst in the league and a weakness opponents seem to have identified. Some say we’re missing Pontus’ leadership from last season and injuries to Pinnock and Mee have clearly weakened us further. Others question how big a loss ‘defensive coach’ Brian Riemmer has been since he left for Anderlecht. Whatever the cause, unless we improve this failure to deal with crosses, talk of the ‘r’ word is only going to get louder.
Elements of the game however, showed we still deserve to end the season in the all-important top seventeen. The effort of this injury ravaged team can rarely be questioned, and it resulted in an equalising goal in first half injury time. The home crowd were silenced, and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale embarrassed, as Wissa’s decision to chase and pressure the stale shot stopper paid immediate dividends half hour after Declan Rice had headed the opener. The goalkeeper, only playing due to Arsenal’s tactical delay in stumping up the full David Raya transfer fee, took too long dealing with a back pass and his clearance was diverted into his net by our Congolese striker.

It was very much backs against the wall in the second half although the Arsenal keeper made two redeeming saves to prevent the away side taking the lead. An audacious forty-yard effort from Ivan Toney would have been a goal of the season contender had Ramsdale not been alert enough to tip it over. He did the same to a Nathan Collins header before the controversial late winner broke Brentford hearts. Russell Slade would not have approved the level of celebration from Mikel Arteta and his colleagues upon the final whistle, but it illustrated how delighted they were with their hard-fought win over their plucky visitors. From fighting a team at the top of the league, it proves to be a different type of battle next when the Bees travel to Burnley. According to Opta, Vincent Kompany’s side have a greater than 99% chance of having to accept that ‘r’ word.  Hopefully the Bees can send them on their way and reduce our own likelihood of joining them.

Burnley 2; Brentford 1; 16 March 2024

An angry Thomas Frank was left cursing more Premier League VAR inconsistency as the Bees suffered a second consecutive 2-1 away defeat, this time at the hands of struggling Burnley.

The Brentford manager couldn’t argue against the decision to award an early penalty and red card against Spurs loanee Sergio Reguillon, after the Spaniard blatantly pushed over the man he failed to mark, Vitinho. Although ref Darren Bond originally saw nothing wrong with the challenge, a voice in his earpiece from Stockley Park told him to take a second look. This led to a pitch-side review and the Bees having to play over 80 minutes with ten men. Mark Flekken got close to Jacub Bruun Laursen’s penalty but was unable to keep it out and it was clearly going to be a long afternoon.

Burnley almost gifted the Bees an equaliser when their goalkeeper Muric had to scurry across his line to keep out a no-look back pass from Dara O’Shea who clearly had no idea where his own keeper, or for that matter his own goal, was. Ivan Toney was unable to make use of the follow-up, Muric getting to the other side of his goal to keep that out too.

The home side should then have extended their lead when another cross into the Bees box wasn’t dealt with. It fell to Chelsea loanee Fofana three yards out with the goal gaping and, with a miss worse than Maupay’s up at Cardiff some years back, the striker’s contact just knocked the ball sideways.

In the second half, Fofana made amends, calmly slotting home when placed through on goal. Another case of what might have been with Keane Lewis-Potter only moments earlier been denied at the other end following a swift counter-attack.

Fofana was also involved in the incident which left Thomas Frank raging. Take your pick from calling it a rugby tackle, a judo throw, or a WWE wrestling move but the way he the Burnley man took Zanka down in the penalty area was as clear a penalty as you’ll ever see. With Darren Bond again failing to see something for himself, it was left to his video assistants to tell him their description of the assault. Their inexplicable description was ‘mutual holding’ so the penalty wasn’t given.

The Bees did pull a goal back, scoring one similar to those they have recently been conceding. Substitute Shandon Baptiste swung in a great cross and Kris Ajer was there to nod the ball home. In running back to his own half for the kick-off, Ajer clearly let the ref know what he thought of his officiating and was given a yellow card; Bond’s hearing clearly much better than his sight.

Another Baptiste cross caused panic in the Burnley goal and although the ball ended up in the net, a freekick was given for a foul on Muric by Toney. As our England international raised his arm to aid his jump, the keeper was always going to be given the decision.

The Bees left Lancashire with another defeat and further concern at the lack of points and decisions going their way. For us Bees fans of many years, the Premier League can often be a fun place to be. Regularly watching highlights of games you’ve attended on Match of the Day, including your own players in your Fantasy League teams and for some of us with no shame, collecting them for Panini sticker albums. However, VAR can be so draining. It’s a concept that should work. It really should. As the great Edwin Starr almost sang though, VAR… huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.


Luis on “X” 


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