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The Gunners were 1-0 up in the second half when Alexandre Lacazette went down under the challenge of Vladimir Coufal.
The former Slavia Prague defender appeared to get the ball first but after a brief pause, Anthony Taylor brought the whistle to his mouth and pointed to the spot.
They need to use ex-players. People who understand the game more. That's a brilliant challenge by Coufal. pic.twitter.com/TmqBC5RO4E— Jack Taylor (@supadupajack) December 15, 2021
He then brandished a second yellow card for Coufal, who was given his marching orders after being booked for a flailing arm on Kieran Tierney in the first half.
Many would have expected VAR to reverse the call, but surprisingly the on-field decision stood - leaving many absolutely baffled:
Is VAR just to give an ego boast to referee's now?— Jonathan Higgins (@Jhiggins3) December 15, 2021
VAR still not doing what it says on the tin— Simon Mullock (@MullockSMirror) December 15, 2021
Penalties are all of a sudden very easy to win. It seems a crazy decision at Arsenal.— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) December 15, 2021
Peter Walton (BT Sport) looks at the replay, doesn't think it's a penalty to Arsenal, but also says there's no evidence for VAR to overturn it. Surely the replay showing it not being a penalty is evidence to overturn it?— James Nalton (@JDNalton) December 15, 2021
Justice on that Arsenal penalty , that’s just not a penalty for me , it’s just so soft and Łukasz Fabiański saves from— Josh Bunting (@Buntingfootball) December 15, 2021
Alexandre Lacazette. Never a foul or a card and now West Ham have to play the rest of the game down to ten men. The first penalty he’s not scored for the club.
What's the point in VAR if they aren't over ruling that penalty for Arsenal here then?— The Betting Village (@bettingvillage) December 15, 2021
Never been a penalty 😷
Another royal cockup from VAR making the game a joke. but Arsenal could not take advantage of the penalty and missed it. Very soon we will have no tackling at all,— Gordon Hill (@gordonhill54) December 15, 2021
I’m sorry but even as an Arsenal fan this is never a penalty for us. Even worse that it’s then a 2nd yellow card for the West Ham player. Lacazette milked it. This needs overturning. #bbcfootball— Paul (@Paul51414670) December 15, 2021
If the Coufal decision isn’t a clear & obvious error I don’t know what is. VAR stinks.— Bianca Westwood (@beewestwood) December 15, 2021
And the Coufal second yellow is a joke— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) December 15, 2021
I genuinely cannot believe how blatantly obvious the use of VAR in favour of the big teams is.— Jack Elderton (@jackelderton) December 15, 2021
The challenge on Dawson in the Burnley game isn't a pen but the Coufal one is a pen and a second-yellow-red.
That's never a pen. Referees keep getting the big decisions wrong. Feel for Coufal because his first booking was also harsh. #WHUFC— Roshane Thomas (@RoshaneSport) December 15, 2021
NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST HE GOT IT WRONG?!— Toby Cudworth (@Toby_Cudworth) December 15, 2021
Coufal got the ball cleanly 😂😂😂 Absolutely unbelievable.
So Coufal WON the ball in the penalty area so Anthony Taylor decides it must be a penalty and a red card…— Jack Hobbs (@JH_Journalism) December 15, 2021
Yet again the shocking standards of English referees has been shown.
That was such a poor piece of refereeing. It wasn't a penalty and for Coufal to get sent off as well is absurd. Moyes should be livid.— ManUtd Analytics (@Utd_Analytics) December 15, 2021
Those controlling the technology do not understand football. #ARSWHU
coufal got a yellow card for the slightest bit of contact on tierney then got a second yellow for literally winning the ball after a tackle on lacazette— 🌟 (@SoofoulSZN) December 15, 2021
as much as we have been awful, arsenal have been completely gifted this game by officials
Coufal touches the ball before Lacazette. Never a pen. Another big decision incorrectly called by a referee, it’s becoming a habit recently. To send Coufal was a joke. West Ham have every right to feel hard down by right now. #WHUFC pic.twitter.com/LaUhuUCZQq— The Extreme Football Enthusiast (@ExtremeFootbal4) December 15, 2021
Lacazette, captain for the night after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the armband, saw his effort saved by Lukasz Fabianski in what was his first miss from the spot in an Arsenal shirt but the Gunners' third consecutive penalty miss.
There looked to be encroachment from both teams when the spot-kick was taken but a retake was not ordered.
Gabriel Martinelli scored the opening goal of the game, latching onto a pass from Lacazette and slotting home early on in the second half.
Substitute Emile Smith-Rowe secured the three points that moved Arsenal into fourth place with a fine left-footed finish.
Saka to Smith Rowe... And Arsenal are going into the top four 👊— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 15, 2021
A lovely placed finish from the edge of the area! pic.twitter.com/y6YSuamku0
West Ham players were still furious with referee Taylor at the final whistle and you get the sense David Moyes won't pull any punches in his post-match interview.
The result means Arsenal moved one point ahead of Arsenal, taking up a top four spot for the first time in 14 months.
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