I decided to sleep instead of waking up at 4:30 in the morning to watch this match. I wasn't expecting too much but it sure sounds like I missed the best part of the match from Arsenal, waking up just a few minutes before seeing Granit Xhaka commit a penalty.
On the penalties it really sucks. I think by the rules that it is probably fine to be called even if it sucks and it was borderline. Xhaka's footwork isn't perfect and he is a bit slow where his leg gets left out and that is the initial contact, the shirt pull is basically nothing but I am fairly certain that is what triggers the VAR review.
The reason I think this is because that is how the process has been described. The referee tells the VAR what he saw and why he made the decision. The VAR sees if that matches the video, if something is missed or different than what the referee sees on the field it is told to go to the screen. I think that Stuart Attwell misses the shirt pull and the VAR tells him that he should have a second look because he missed that. From there it is the totality of the contact that I think makes this a penalty.
The big decisions by the referee were probably not "wrong" but they were huge game-changers that really could have gone either way, not unlike the Odegaard/Ederson foul.
The penalty and red card together took Arsenal from 1.78 expected points to 0.55. Arsenal almost saw it out but in the end Rodri scored the only good chance of the second half.
Headline: Arsenal measure up against the best
The running xG shows that this was a very even match before the penalty decision. Some stats for before the penalty,
Shots: Arsenal 6 - City 4
xG: Arsenal 0.4 - City 0.4
Final 3rd Touches: Arsenal 89 - City 95
Penalty Box Touches: Arsenal 15 - City 19
Passes Per Defensive Action: Arsenal 8.7 - City 8.9
Arsenal also had 4 possessions start within 40 yards of goal compared to just 1 from City. The field tilt shows that this match was fairly even as well with both teams having spells of possession.
This wasn't a "free hit" but it also wasn't a match that Arsenal expected a lot of points from. What I wanted to see was Arsenal not overly change their style and look to play their game. I think that was mission accomplished.
The 5 minutes from the penalty to the red card were madness and something where Arsenal lost composure and the match.
Stock Rising: Gabriel Martinelli
Martinelli had a very good game. His passing numbers look bad (54.5%) but he actually completed passes at a rate similar to expected (51.3%). He took 5 shots, had 0.7 xG (probably should have been more but the open goal chance is only rated 0.45).
He looks like he was a good outlet in this match as well.
My opinion of Martinelli is so high and I think that he is a genuine superstar in the making. I think he could be the best player on a future Arsenal team and I love what he is able to add from the left-wing going forward.
Stock Falling: Not picking anyone
I don't want to pick anyone here because I didn't see enough to call anyone out. I will re-watch and try to make a bigger decision tomorrow.