Everything turned into a nightmare again for Arsenal. They were just starting to get back to their stride and then the Wolves struck last night the credentials of the Gunners spiraled into a disastrous evening. The Gunners had broken the resistance before the break, but then came the incident that halted the progress of the visitors at Molineux.

Daniel Podence sent Willian Jose behind the Arsenal defence with a through ball. An exposed David Luiz clipped the striker with his knee. There is little doubt that he committed a foul and the resulting penalty award was fair. But the referee Craig Pawson then brandished a red card and, given David Luiz had not offered any challenge; it seemed a highly questionable call.

He had done little more than run in a straight line but the VAR official, Jonathan Moss, backed his colleague up and the Brazilian had no recourse from there.

This decision left VAR at the receiving end again.

What is the need for VAR if it fails to give the correct decisions?

Mikel Arteta’s side had produced their best 45 minutes of the season against Wolves and was seconds away from going into half-time with a deserving 1-0 lead thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s fabulous individual goal.

However, the game was then turned on its head and handed to Wolves on a silver platter by Jonathan Moss, the VAR official back at Stockley Park.

Mikel Arteta’s main complaint surrounded the foul itself, although that particular case appeared weaker. “I’ve seen the replay 10 times in five different angles and I cannot see any contact,” he said. “I’m sitting here expecting to see something and I’m not seeing anything.”

There was clearly no intent from Luiz to take Willian down; he didn’t try to make a tackle.

All it needed was one look at the replay to see that the contact – if you can call it that – came when Jose pulled his foot back to shoot and caught Luiz’s knee.

The rules say, “Players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead. But deliberate fouls will still incur a red card.”

The whole saga was ridiculous.

But before that, the opening 45 minutes were all about the Gunners.

Bukayo Saka was denied three times in the first 10 minutes: first by Rui Patricio’s post, then by a smart save from the keeper, and then by VAR’s decision that Alexandre Lacazette had strayed millimeters offside before teeing him up for a glorious right-footed finish. Pepe subsequently hit the bar, via Patricio’s fingertips, with a searing angled drive. But after a while, he whipped in after making mugs of both Nelson Semedo and Neves in a determined burst down the left.

After the VAR and red card incident the Wolves re-emerged.

Joao Moutinho promptly scored a peach. Perhaps Saka or Thomas Partey could have closed him down more quickly when he took possession 30 yards out, but it still required perfection to convert from there. The veteran duly delivered it, giving Leno no chance.

The game had been completely transformed and when Bernd Leno was sent off 18 minutes from time, there was no way back for the visitors.

At least Leno only had himself to blame, speeding out to beat Adama Traore to a bouncing ball only to misjudge it completely and inexplicably punch it out for a throw-in.

“The way we lost the game really hurts, it’s painful,” Arteta said of a first defeat since mid-December.

It would not calm down the annoyed fans and experts of Gunners saying that it was a hard-fought defeat.


Victory would have taken them up to sixth for a short time, but for now, they sit 10th, with a tricky looking trip to Aston Villa.

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