A disappointing game it was wrapping up the last Premier League football of 2017, on a day Arsene Wenger surpassed Sir Alex Ferguson in the most league appearance by a manager – making his 811th appearance against West Brom in a repulsive one all draw at the Hawthorns.
Mike Dean officiated this historic match for Arsene Wenger, although he’s been officiating for eighteen years now, one would expect the veteran to be tenacious with his decision-making, but showed why he’s disliked by most Gooners when his wrongful decision very late in the match cost Arsenal from taking the three points.
Ozil who has recently had sublime performances missed this match through a knock on his knee, as Wenger replaced him with Alex Iwobi. Petr Cech, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette were the preferred starting XI selected for this match by Arsene.
Petr Cech needed to be alert in the 6th minute as he kept his focus anticipating the direction of a Jay Rodriguez header. The opposition striker rose highest to head in for a cross, as I anticipated the header going the other direction but Cech had eyes on the ball and make sure he dealt with the threat properly.
Iwobi had the Gunners first threat of the game when aimed for Ben Foster’s top corner but missed his target by a few meter on goal. The Nigerian International struck the ball well enough but couldn’t control the height of the ball. I’m pleased Iwobi is starting to shoot and making up his mind on what he wants to do with the ball, his decision-making has been my issue with him but he looks to be improving in this area.
Soon after Iwobi came threatening the opposition with a better effort just at the edge of the opposition penalty area, taking this effort with his left foot as Ben Foster managed to parry Iwobi’s effort for a corner kick.
The match lacked sheer creativity in the absence of Mesut Ozil, making it clear for all to see what the German brings to the table when playing for the Gunners. Hope he signs a contract.
Sead Kolasinac was forced out of the game by an injury which I hope isn’t serious as we have Chelsea to play on Wednesday. The injury was inflicted by Gareth Barry, which led to the human Hulk being replaced with Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Cech parried a Jay Rodriguez effort in the second half, as the Arsenal defence went to sleep allowing the attacker run free with the ball without exercising pressure on him before releasing his effort on goal which Cech kept out.
The deadlock was broken in the 83rd minute when Mike Dean awarded a free kick to Arsenal for a foul on Alexis Sanchez just on the edge of the penalty area of the opposition.
Alexis stepped up and took the free kick, which looked like it was going off target but took a deflection off James McClean – gifting the Gunners the lead very late in the match.
A disgraceful decision by Mike Dean in the 88th minute of the game would seem to cut the celebrations of Arsenal as he awarded a penalty to the home side for a handball against Chambers. It was a ball to hand incident but replays from the angle Mike Dean was seemed like the English defender deliberately handballed. Jay Rodriguez stepped up and equalised for the home side, snatching a point for his team as they rose from 20th to 19th in the league standing.
I would be glad if a petition was written and granted to Mike Dean to never officiate an Arsenal match ever again.
I’d like to use this medium to wish readers of Arsenal Insider a prosperous new year, thanks for the support shown in the last year.