London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Unai Emery was left looking forward to the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Premier League matches after an incident-packed 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in a north London derby at Wembley on Saturday.
The Gunners led early on through a goal from Aaron Ramsey but Spurs equalised through a 74th-minute Harry Kane penalty that some felt should have been disallowed for offside — but, with no VAR, referee Anthony Taylor stood by the decision of his linesman.
There was further controversy later on when Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the last minute of normal time after Davinson Sanchez made contact, albeit slight, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved Aubameyang’s spot-kick.
There was still time for Taylor to send off Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira for a dangerous challenge on Danny Rose.
“One month ago I said to everybody VAR is coming forward — it is difficult for referees,” Emery told BT Sport.
“You can analyse with TV and it is easy but referees can’t use that now. Maybe today’s match is different with that but I understand it is difficult.”
– ‘Big personality’ –
The Spaniard added: “The referee (Taylor) is a big personality — it is not easy to balance the two teams but I like this referee.”
This result saw third-placed Spurs maintain a four-point lead over the Gunners in the fight for top-four finish.
“We are fine in our way, today being competitive and adapting our performance,” said Emery.
Meanwhile Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, thanked Lloris for helping celebrate the Tottenham boss’s 47th birthday with a point as his side bounced back from a disappointing 2-0 defeat by Chelsea in midweek.
“Yes Lloris’ save was a massive present,” Pochettino told the BBC.
“I am so happy because we didn’t deserve to lose the game — we were better than them so it would be a shame to lose the game in that way.
“I am happy with the performance, it was a tough game and difficult to play Arsenal,” the Argentine added after Tottenham’s first league draw this season.
“But I am happy after two defeats to take a positive result to build confidence to go to Tuesday and Borussia Dortmund and go through to the next stage of the Champions League.”
As for Taylor’s decision-making, Pochettion said: “If you ask me about offside you need to ask about the moment after 12 minutes, (Granit) Xhaka on Kane, which wasn’t a foul. That situation is so difficult to understand. The most important thing is the performance was good to build a positive run.