Matteo Guendouzi said he had no choice but to foul Wilfried Zaha when the Crystal Palace striker threatened to race through on goal deep into stoppage time.
The French midfielder, seemingly inspired by the goings-on at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, upended the Ivorian winger in comedic fashion to preserve a point for his teammates before the whistle was blown on a 2-2 draw at the Emirates.
“I had to foul Zaha at the end,” he told Arsenal.com, “otherwise he is through on goal on his own.
“I’m the last defender but I’m far from our goal as well. I had to do it.”
Guendouzi challenge Zaha to prevent goal-scoring opportunity https://t.co/Q7HvlNStUz
— Arsenalist (@arsenalist) October 27, 2019
On a frustrating afternoon for Arsenal, not only did VAR officials overrule referee Martin Atkinson to award the visitors a first half penalty, converted by Luka Milivojevic, they also chalked off a potential late winner by Sokratis for an infringement in the build-up by Calum Chambers.
Reflecting on the interventions, Guendouzi said: “I’m not sure what happened on our disallowed goal.
It’s like last Monday at Sheffield [United]. The ref didn’t check with VAR then on Sokratis and Saka. This time he checks and it goes against us.
“I haven’t seen it again yet but we lose two points because of that today and a point at Sheffield too.”
Having dropped five points in the space of a week, the Gunners are now four points adrift of the top four with matches against Wolves and Leicester to come next in the league.
What was a solid, if unspectacular, start to the season has quickly morphed into something more mediocre. Guendouzi insists the team don’t have a mental problem.
“We really wanted to win the game so we attacked a lot towards the end to get the third goal,” he said. “We allowed spaces [for Palace on the break] but it’s because we really wanted to win.
“It’s not a mental issue [letting a lead slip]. We didn’t manage to hold our advantage. We knew they were a good team, with individual quality, and they played well for their goals.
“Zaha did well to get a penalty. It’s down to us to work so we win these kinds of matches after taking the lead.”