Off the back of the international break, a Monday night fixture feels like it extends the unwanted interruption by another week.
VAR stole the headlines with terrible decisions around the Premier League. Not that it should surprise anyone; the ones making terrible VAR decisions routinely make terrible refereeing decisions every week.
Taking offside to distances of less than a millimetre is a step too far. Yesterday saw more examples of refereeing infallibility preventing correction of basic errors. It’s this area which is the fundamental flaw of VAR in operation.
‘Clear and obvious’ covers a multitude of sins. However, the football authorities are so wrought with angst about undermining the officials that it is perpetuating sub-standard officiating. If mistakes aren’t corrected, how will officials learn to interpret actions and incidents better?
People tell me that refereeing mistakes are part and parcel of football. That we enjoy talking about them after a match. No, they aren’t part and parcel of football. Despite what we may think, the FA don’t appoint an official on the basis that he looks like he has a good five mistakes a game in him. Nor do they judge referees by clangers across a season with most inept being rewarded with the FA Cup final.
I know it feels like it but they just don’t.
The PGMO must accept officials make mistakes and be prepared to allow VAR to overrule. If putting a video screen by the side of the pitch helps, do so. I don’t think it will but there you go. Wait, we already have them and not one referee has used them? It beggars belief.
I Vant To Be On Loan
Until the parameters of the use of VAR are resolved, until they are given the power to overrule errors which are not ‘clear and obvious’, it will continue to be a largely poorly implemented refereeing aide.
Spurs being Spurs took it to a whole new level. Of course, they did. The scoreboard operator got it right but the referee and VAR hopeless wrong. Maybe we should just leave the decision-making to scoreboard operators? They seem like an honest breed.
Away from Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah has scored a round dozen goals this season. Five for England Under-21s, seven for Leeds albeit one for the Under-23s. Not a bad little spell, you’d argue.
There is one snag in this. Nketiah has played 375 minutes for the Leeds first XI this season; 168 came in the Carabao Cup with 207 in the league.
Yesterday saw him play 45 minutes as Patrick Bamford continued his goal drought. Will Eddie start next week? With Marcelo Bielsa, that’s far from certain.
Nketiah is a player that, at the moment, is not in the starting XI.
But we are not being so efficient. It is natural that one striker, a goalscorer like him is claimed by the people. He scored four goals, maybe he could score five. Obviously people start to talk about if it’s Bamford or Eddie.No flies on Bielsa
As the former Argentina boss notes, he’s “in charge” and it’s his decision who to pick.
At the back of my mind, I guess, is the injury suffered by Alexandre Lacazette. We were woefully short of options which necessitated Aubameyang playing in Frankfurt. Is Eddie best served by being away?
I wonder, however, what Arsenal are thinking about it? From our point of view, getting as much game time for Eddie’s development is imperative. Leeds are a big club and pushing for promotion so Nketiah’s patience is required.
Forming an Orderly Queue
However, at the moment, it is a far from convincing case that he is benefitting from a loan spell. Had he remained at Arsenal, I’d expect him to start every cup game – four so far – with a smattering of Premier League substitute appearances as he was making last season.
Has he lost his place in the Arsenal pecking order? Gabriel Martinelli got off to a flyer in the cups. Has the Brazitalian stolen a march into the starting line-up? It’s hard to say and of course, he has the added option of playing on the left for his route to first-team football.
There is also a long way to go until next season with injuries and fickleness of fate intervening. Nketiah is doing all that is asked of him and may yet ratchet up a string of starts.
He may not prove the answer to Leeds questions. There is a long way to go in the season and scoring from the bench is no guarantee of delivering from the start.
We’re some way off knowing how good he will be but as a goalscorer, he is proving his worth to a low-scoring Leeds side.
Hopefully, it will lead to better things in his Arsenal future.