5 Thoughts: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal

I didn't see the match because of that whole pesky "day job" thing, so these will be shortform.

1. Literally everything mentioned in the Tweet screenshot above - from both people.

2. I only saw one brief replay, but I'm 100% convinced that Granit Xhaka didn't duck out of the way of their goal, for a few reasons. First, people will do literally anything to twist any given circumstance into their own silly Twitter agendas. Second, if you're getting out of the way of something, you're not going to duck your heard *forward* like that. Trust me, in my long time as a goalkeeper I've admittedly ducked out of the way of some close-in rockets coming straight for my face. You would too. Anyway, when you do that, the natural instinct is to turn your head back and away from the ball, usually with your hands going up in some fashion.

If anything, my suspicion is that Xhaka was trying to head that away and was prevented from doing so when the ball's trajectory changed after it was deflected.

Occam's Razor, children. Look it up.

3. Despite everything above, I'm damn sure disappointed that we couldn't find a way to win it. Don't get this twisted, we're not anywhere near where we could and should be at this point. Long-time readers know that I loathe United more than any other club in the world, for a multitude of reasons. The last few years have been their lot somehow finding a lower nadir than the previous Worst United Side of the Last Three Decades, and we still can't consistently defeat them. It's maddening. It's like the same kryptonite that affects them has also done so to us. There's something Shakespearean in that, admittedly, though I'd much prefer a good murder mystery.

At the very least, for the love of Dennis, can we batter these fuckers at the Emirates? Please and thank you.

4. Apparently, our boy Matteo Guendouzi had another storming performance. Call me crazy, but I think that lad just might be a player. Also, no prizes for guessing that it was The Mighty Auba that got us out of jail again, huh?


Aww, Hugh. Buddy. Pal. You're a good dude and all but this is fantastically spoken like someone who has refereed zero games.

Here is the screenshot he posted:

This is, once again, a case of armchair-refereeing a match based on a frozen nanosecond in time. It's hideously unfair.

As an AR myself, I can see exactly what went wrong here - notice how he's looking left, towards the player with the ball. Now, look at how the defender is running left at speed, and Auba is running right at speed. In real time, they will pass each other in, what, a second? Less than that? In the time it takes the AR to turn his head after the ball is played, Auba is probably a good 3-4 yards past him, and the AR has to recreate in his mind what he believed to have happened in at most a second before he pops the flag up or not.

If he pops it up late, his assessor will bollock him. If Auba WAS offside and he didn't put the flag up, his assessor will bollock him. Probably for this, as it happened, his assessor will bollock him. All I'm saying is that these guys live a reality that the public at large has zero fucking comprehension about. Less than none.

I'm not saying he got it right - obviously, the screengrab makes it abundantly clear that he didn't. But, to act like it's some unbelievably preposterous act of someone miles out of their depth is also absurd and unfair.

Ideally, as an AR you want to be looking straight ahead at that line and hear the sound of the ball being kicked. However, this isn't a Sunday-league kickabout at the local bog, there's 70,000 screaming people there - it's not exactly always possible. As an AR you have to be aware of the ball location, the line of the second-to-last defender AND in the back of your mind remember that if the ball goes out over the sideline in your quadrant, you're fully responsible for determining who it went out off of.

This is hard enough doing it for a U-14 match, let alone in the English Premier League. We always want them to get it right, but at the end of the day, they're human beings. This is EXACTLY the purpose that VAR serves when it's used correctly.

Anyway, hopping off my soapbox, I just want to again stress that we're now through a brutal stretch of the fixture list and we're right in the vicinity of where we want to be. Would you trade places with the guys we played today? I wouldn't.

PS - Nicolas Pepe will come good, Twitter-dorks. Have even the smallest bit of perspective, please.