PL finally admit to multiple VAR errors, and do Arsenal need a new No 9?



By Tony Attwood

Among the bits of football news which have been reported in passing, and then not explored much by the media, is the revelation that Premier League video assistant referees got over 12 percent of their decisions wrong so far this season, according to the Key Match Incident panel.

Which given that the people involved are apparently highly trained referees who are sitting in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, indoors (so not subject to the vagaries of the English weather or the noise of the crowd – the latter of which we know affects referees in the ground) is pretty appalling.

ESPNhave reported one of the mistakes includes the disallowed goal by Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester United in September.  Had the VAR referee got that one right then Arsenal could well still be in line for a second unbeaten season.

But referee Paul Tierney used the pitchside monitor to disallow the Brazil forward’s goal for a foul on Christian Eriksen by Martin Odegaard in the build-up to the goal.

Adding to the problems the independent panel “also concluded there had been six missed VAR interventions”.   That would take the error rating up to around 20%.

Moving on, and in preparation for Arsenal’s next match against West Ham, there was a recent friendly between Arsenal and Luton, the team (with subs in brackets) for that match was…



Aaron Ramsdale

Ben White, Rob Holding, Gabriel, Cedric Soares,

Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Martin Ødegaard,

Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah

After all the subs were made in the second half the team was

Matt Turner

Lino Sousa, Rob Holding, Taylor Foran, Cedric Soares,

Albert Sambi, Mohamed Elneny, Amario Cozier-Duberry,

Fabio Viera), Marquinhos, Catalin Cirjan

That first team shows Martinelli playing at centre forward and Eddie on the wing which is an interesting new twist to the arrangements.   This could be the lineup against West Ham and could well be something that is used instead of going out and buying a new centre forward.

But also on the horizon is Smith Rowe who last season scored ten goals, just one behind top scorer Saka.  He isn’t quite ready for a return but is getting close.

Arsenal are the second-highest-scoring club in the Premier League this season and has the second-highest level of goals per game as shown in the final column below


Pos Team P F A GD GPG
2 Manchester City 14 40 14 26 2.86
1 Arsenal 14 33 11 22 2.36
4 Tottenham Hotspur 15 31 21 10 2.07
3 Newcastle United 15 29 11 18 1.93
6 Liverpool 14 28 17 11 2.00


Although the media is currently full of who Arsenal will buy to replace Gabriel Jesus the fact is that in the Premier League Martin Odegaard has a better goals per game record, and Gabriel Martinelli has an identical record to Gabriel Jesus.

Indeed if we took Garbiel Jesus’ five goals out of the record then instead of Arsenal being the second top-scoring team in the league we would be the fifth top-scoring team in the league – equal on goals with Liverpool.

Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus are equal in terms of goals per game this season, and so there is every reason to see if the club can play with Martinelli becoming more of an Henry type player, playing on the left wing and then moving in to score rather than moving in and passing.  In the table below GPG is “goals per game”.


Sqd Player Position A S G GPG
8 MartinOdegaard Midfielder 13 0 6 0.46
9 Gabriel Jesus Forward 14 0 5 0.36
11 Gabriel Martinelli Forward 14 0 5 0.36
7 Bukayo Saka Defender/Midfielder/Forward 14 0 4 0.29
34 Granit Xhaka Defender/Midfielder 14 0 3 0.21
6 Gabriel Defender 14 0 2 0.14
24 Reiss Nelson Midfielder 0 2 2
5 Thomas Partey Midfielder 11 0 2 0.18
12 William Saliba Defender 14 0 2 0.14
21 Fábio Vieira Midfielder 1 7 1 1.00


All of this is not to say that Gabriel Jesus is not a brilliant player but rather to say that he is not like having a traditional number nine at the heart of the forward line, and therefore he does not necessarily have to be replaced by a traditional number nine.

Moving on, Arsenal Women have played their final group stage game and the result was Zurich 1 Arsenal 9 in the Champions League, which resulted in this final table for the group, Arsenal as you can see, winning the group which gives an advantage in the next round.


Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Arsenal 6 4 1 1 19 5 +14 13
2 Olympique Lyonnais 6 3 2 1 10 6 +4 11
3 Juventus 6 2 3 1 9 3 +6 9
4 Zürich 6 0 0 6 2 26 -24 0

4 Replies to “PL finally admit to multiple VAR errors, and do Arsenal need a new No 9?”

  1. Thank you Tony! At last someone who recognises that we do not need to dash out & replace the irreplaceable because we already have a very good supply of GOAL SCORERS.
    Of course having said that, Mikel Arteta might not take my advice and instead spend £X millions on an out & out striker who will win us the PL, FA Cup & Europa League.
    That Key Match Incident Panel news is not unexpected as I thought we all agreed that Arsenal was done over in that game against United. I think Howard Webb (who I have a lot of time for) will make a big difference to PGMOL, even to the extent of opening up to more access by public & media.

  2. Tony

    I see you haven’t included Nketiah in your figures. Why is that as he is a very possible direct replacement for Jesus down the middle, assuming we don’t buy anyone of course? Maybe it’s because he has started relatively few matches? Even so just ignoring him seems a bit odd, after all you included Nelson?

    Anyway, as he does play for Arsenal, is indeed a central striker and has scored a few goals, I thought it was probably worth seeing how his goal scoring record stacked up. Now because of the rather inconsistent nature of his appearances I thought the best thing to do was compare goals per minute rather than per game. And as you must be aware I have done this a few times recently. So many times in fact I’ve been accused of being his Mother, so I wont put them all up yet again. And what these goals per minute show is that his rate of scoring is better than everyone else at the club. Everyone.

    Now this of course doesn’t mean he WILL fill the void left by Jesus, it just suggests that he could well do. This doesn’t mean Saka, Martinelli or someone else wont do better than him down the middle. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy another player, if the right one is available, it just means it wont be the end of the World if we don’t.

    Since Jesus got injured there have been comments claiming outright that Nketiah is ‘Not good enough’ ‘Not premier league standard’ ‘Only fit for the Championship’ which is fine as an ‘opinion’. But that’s all it is. My ‘opinion’ is he is. And that’s fine, but again it’s just an opinion.

    But as I recall Tony, this site isn’t just about opinion, hence your raft of statistics above. Hence the amount of times you yourself have berated posters who come here claiming this and that without a shred of evidence. In fact I believe you have called time on a few who insist on doing so time and time again. This site is about backing your opinion with stats, or facts as they are otherwise known. At least that’s what I thought, but apparently when it comes to goal scoring stats ‘you can make them say what you want’ so they don’t count.

    As you may of seen if you do read the comments, Nketiah’s amazing rate of scoring has been dismissed out of hand on several occasions because, amongst other reasons apparently he’s just an ‘impact player’ who only scores against tired players, and he will be found out if he starts games.

    Again, that was just an opinion, and what’s more it was an opinion that didn’t even have a toe in reality. 40+ late premier league substitute appearances without a single goal is testimony to that. In fact every single premier league goal he has scored he has scored when he started the match. And what’s more, a majority were scored in the first half. All this suggests he is the absolute opposite of an ‘impact’ player. He does best when he starts matches. That’s not my opinion that’s a fact.

    Now, none of this means the loss of Jesus wont be felt. Nketiah may not be the answer, and despite my confidence in him there are questions to answer.

    For example:

    -Not scoring once in 40 substitute appearance’s is on the face of it disappointing. But as he would be starting games does that matter?

    -A majority of his goals are scored in the first half. Does this mean he tires? I don’t know. Playing more may build his stamina, if that is the issue. And anyway, early goals are key. Fast starts are key. Much better to score early than be scrambling for a late goal. So again does it matter?

    -He’s scored a lot of his goals starting matches against what you could say are not elite opponents. EFLC. EL. Etc. But to counter that he wouldn’t of had the likes of Saka, Martinelli, Xhaka around him either. And it’s not that he hasn’t scored against the elite, 2 against Chelsea springs to mind. But never the less it’s a question that will need to be answered.

    -And of course he will have to carry the weight of expectation on his shoulders. It will be a different level of expectation and pressure from anything he has had before. Will he cope? Nobody knows.

    So there reasons for doubt, just not the ones that were being raised.

    My ‘opinion’ is he will be fine. But that’s just my opinion. The thing is, the stats also suggest he will be fine. I suppose only time will tell.


    I do understand people have their doubts but rather than just ‘I don’t think he’s good enough’ try backing that opinion with some reasons, stats, evidence, after all I thought it was what this site was all about? Yes I do get frustrated. I spend hours, and I mean hours, researching my subjects. If I have an opinion,, before I start talking about it I do research to see if my thoughts are supported by facts. If the facts don’t support my opinion I re-evaluate my opinion. It’s how I am. It’s what drew me to this site. So please, don’t get upset with me, prove me wrong. I have been proved wrong before and it doesn’t bother me. If the facts are there then the facts are there. Believe me, I do not wish to upset people. Just to make a good argument and engage in good debate.

    By the way, I’m his Dad not his Mum !!

  3. Loved the last sentece Nitram 😉
    The main reason we will miss Jesus is not for his scoring but for his overall workrate. He is chasing down defenders high up the pitch in a very aggressive way and forces them in to errors from which we have scored a few. Will Nketiah be able to sustain the same level of pressure? I don’t know. As this is even more difficult to judge.
    Jesus also has a few assists to his name and I don’t know if Nketiah is as good as Jesus when it comes to that. I always had a soft spot for Nketiah and just hope he does a great job.
    I remember Newcastle a while back who also was on top of the league for a long time. In the wintermarket they bought Asprilla and people said they would be unstoppable now. Well it turned out differently. Was it in the late 90s?? So buying a super striker will or will not be the reason we would win the PL. I jost hope we can carry on the way we have been doing in th first half of the season. Which was rather fun.

  4. Walter

    Well, in these politically correct times Walter I think it’s important to be clear about how you ‘Identify’ and first and foremost I do indeed identify as a man. All the rest is just variations on a theme.

    “The main reason we will miss Jesus is not for his scoring but for his overall work rate”

    Yep, great point. Without doubt Jesus is one of the most energetic, if that is the word, players I have ever seen. The way he chases players down is remarkable and has certainly been a major factor behind the impact he has had. As you infer, his actual goals are not going to be the big miss, because as I have said and shown, Nketiah looks perfectly capable of at least matching the goals return and some. The stats suggest that.

    And that’s been my point. Everything Nketiah has done when playing down the middle for us suggest he is a top striker and indeed belongs at this level. His goals return in Premier League starts alone is very good, in fact the best rate at the club. The stats show that. He certainly looks to me to be Premier League standard.

    But can he fill Jesus’s boots is the question? Above I said Nketiah does have questions to answer and another one to that list is, will he be able to match Jesus’s work rate? To be fair I doubt it, because personally I don’t know who could. I am certainly struggling to recall a ‘Centre Forward’ with a work rate anywhere close to his.

    But, if Nketiah scores the more goals his stats suggest he may, will that matter? I mean it’s not as if Martinelli and Saka stand around whilst the defence amble up the field is it? My argument is, and always has been, that Nketiah has shown he is a very good ‘Centre Forward’. He scores goals at a great rate, when he starts games. No, he is not Jesus. He is different to Jesus. But there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    I am confident a front 3 of Martinelli, Nketiah and Saka will scare the pants off of any back 4.

    We will see.

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