VAR drama as Vardy ends Arsenal’s winning run
Leicester snatch 1-1 draw against Gunners after Eddie Nketiah is shown a red card within four minutes of coming off the bench
07 July, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
ARSENAL 1 (Aubameyang 21, Nketiah sent off 75)
LEICESTER CITY 1 (Vardy 84)
MIKEL Arteta admitted he “didn’t understand the rules” of football any more after 10-man Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw against Leicester City tonight (Tuesday) at the Emirates Stadium.
The frustrated Gunners’ boss was talking after seeing Eddie Nketiah sent off just four minutes after coming on as a substitute for a foul on James Justin.
Referee Chris Kavanagh initially brandished a yellow card before overturning his original decision and giving the young forward his marching orders following a VAR check.
What clearly annoyed Arteta even more was his belief that Jamie Vardy – who cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener late on – should also have been sent off for a foul in the first-half.
The Leicester striker tussled with Shkodran Mustafi, and accidentally caught the Arsenal defender in the face with his studs as the pair fell to the ground.
Arteta was left bamboozled as to why only one of the challenges resulted in the referee going over to check the pitch-side monitor.
He said: “With the red card decision, the referee doesn’t see the player, you have to know that it is a young kid.
“It can be a red card but then Leicester has to play with 10-men after 42 minutes, that has to be a red card as well.
“I don’t understand the rules since I’ve been in this country. The last year I’ve never seen a referee check any of the images.”
Arteta added: “The referee has made a decision and we have to learn from that, as well it is our fault because it is the fourth time since I have been here we have played with 10-men and we have to reflect on that.”
Leicester made the brighter start on a rainy night in north London, with Vardy warming Emiliano Martinez’s gloves with a drive from distance barely 10 minutes into the match.
The Foxes hit the target again minutes later when Arsenal fell asleep at a corner. Marc Albrighton cut the ball back to Kelechi Iheanacho, who drilled in a low shot that was well-blocked by Martinez’s foot.
The sluggish Gunners then sparked into life.
Dani Ceballos played an exquisite pass to Bukayo Saka, who raced into the box before sliding the ball to Aubameyang to tap home from six-yards.
There have been few better examples of a goal changing a game.
The home side were relentless, with Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel putting in a defiant one-man display to keep his side in the game.
Saka almost added a quick-fire second from a tight angle following good work from Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, but Schmeichel was waiting at the near post to save with his feet.
Just past the half-hour mark the Danish shot-stopper denied Arsenal again – this time sticking out a strong hand to deny Lacazette from close range.
Leicester were always going to be dangerous on the counter-attack, and it looked like they had pulled the scores level on 35 minutes.
Vardy’s cross was volleyed home by Iheanacho, but the goal was ruled out after VAR showed the forward had fouled Sead Kolasinac in the build-up before putting the ball in the back of the net.
At the other end of the pitch, the duel between Lacazette and Schmeichel continued.
Hector Bellerin played a peach of a cross into the box, putting a header on a plate for the Arsenal attacker. But Lacazette squandered the chance as he directed a tame effort straight at the keeper.
The end-to-end action continued in the second half.
Schmeichel reacted well to push David Luiz’s 25-yard free-kick out for a corner, while Iheanacho saw a volley well-held by Martinez.
On 68 minutes Lacazette finally got the better of Schmeichel, tapping home Luiz’s flick on from a corner. But his celebrations were quickly cut short as VAR showed the French forward had strayed offside.
It was Lacazette’s final contribution before being replaced by Nketiah. And that’s when it all went wrong for the Gunners.
Nketiah was sent off after catching Justin high on the knee with his studs. And just as a goal had changed the game in the first-half, the red card changed it in the second.
Suddenly it was all Leicester. And the Foxes earned a share of the spoils in the 86th minute when Demarai Gray played a killer pass into the box, where Vardy was waiting at the back post to pounce.
There was yet another VAR check, but there would be no reprieve for Arsenal as the game ended all square.
Reflecting on the result, Arteta said: “The boys played really well. I am so proud. We take the positives, keep improving and go again against Spurs and try to win.”
Arsenal: Martinez, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Ceballos (Torreira, 80), Xhaka, Tierney, Saka (Willock, 71), Lacazette (Nketiah, 71), Aubameyang (Maitland-Niles, 90+3)
Substitutes not used: Macey, Sokratis, Holding, Pepe, Nelson
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Bennett (Gray, 76), Perez, Tielemans, Ndidi (Praet, 81), Albrighton (Fuchs, 59), Iheanacho (Barnes, 59), Vardy
Substitutes not used: Ward, Morgan, Choudhury, James, Mendy