Pep Guardiola admitted that Arsenal were ‘better’ than Manchester City, as the Premier League leaders snatched a dramatic late win against the 10-man Gunners amid VAR drama.
[ MORE: Man City edge Arsenal ]
After Ederson didn’t concede a penalty kick for what looked like a foul on Martin Odegaard, Arsenal were very good and dominated most of the opening 60 minutes.
Then the game dramatically swung in City’s favor after a wild 122-second spell.
First Man City won a penalty kick via VAR as Granit Xhaka hauled down Bernardo Silva in the box, then Arsenal almost went straight back ahead but Nathan Ake cleared and Gabriel Martinelli missed the rebound. Then Gabriel was shown a second yellow card and sent off to give City an advantage.
All of that allowed City to snatch a late win, their 11th-straight in the Premier League, as Rodri was the hero in the 93rd minute.
City far from slick
Even though City won to extend their lead atop the table, Guardiola wasn’t ecstatic with the display.
“Arsenal were better,” Guardiola admitted to BT Sport. “We face a team that in recent years has struggled to be in the top four. They start this season bottom, bottom, bottom. They have six days after beating Norwich, we have two days. It was so tough for us to come back. We had no energy. They is why we put one more player in the middle to get more control and passes. We know in transitions and physicality they have it can be difficult. And it was difficult. We tried and in one minute we have a penalty and then the red card. We try to analyze many things but sometimes the coin falls on your side. We know what it means to beat Arsenal here in this moment they are in. Now we have time to rest.”
Asked about the VAR check for a potential penalty to Arsenal for a foul on Martin Odegaard by Ederson, Guardiola went full Arsene Wenger.
“I didn’t see their penalty as they did not show it on the screen. They showed it for us for Bernardo’s. Bernardo’s is a penalty but I could not see the Odegaard one, so I do not know,” Guardiola said.
Gunners fuming over VAR calls
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was a little clearer with his view on the VAR calls, while on the pitch Xhaka, Odegaard, Gabriel led the complaints against the officials as the entire stadium (well, the home fans) were fuming.
“I am basing it on both penalties – the inconsistency of going to the screen, the referee might have ruled out it straight away when he looked at it. But it is the fact he went to look at it. Both in real time he said no penalty, but only gets told to look at one. Theirs was soft for me but he gets told to look and has given it,” Ramsdale told BBC Sport.
“I am at the other end of the pitch for our penalty shout. The goalkeeper comes out with his foot and he either catches him or the ball. The Bernardo one, he stood him up and it got given. Penalties are penalties, but for us it is getting told to look at the screen.”
Ramsdale also praised Arsenal for reacting well after going down to 10 men, especially without manager Mikel Arteta on the sidelines after he tested positive for COVID-19.
“Deflation. The fans were outstanding all day. Not many teams have done that to Man City this year. We have lots of positives to take, especially with our manager not here,” Ramsdale said. “When we went down to 10 men there were lots of periods where we didn’t have the ball but we defended really well. We changed system and the winner is a bit of a lucky break. We have to swallow it. That is football and we have a semi-final to look forward to on Thursday. Everyone talks about us being a young team, and we are, but that shows we don’t fear anyone. We might get it wrong and ultimately we have lost, but it is a tough one to swallow rather than losing 4-0.”