I’m going to write about the match and why we lost separately later but considering everyone - not least of whom Wenger - has been getting worked up about the referee Anthony Taylor’s performance I thought I’d look at each decision he made.
I’m not usually a referee basher but he did get at least two big decisions wrong – he appeared to play an advantage (but didn’t signal it) on the first penalty and then still awarded a spot kick; and he should have sent off Vlaar in the second half.
Other than that, I think most of the incidents, such as the second penalty, were arguable either way and Villa got the rough end of a few decisions too - Luna didn’t deserve his booking and Rosicky probably should have been booked. Koscielny’s red card was one that, if he was managing the game better, would not have happened. Overall, I wouldn't say Taylor was as much of a factor in the game as Wenger and others are making out.
For the record, I’ve only looked at the fouls given and bookings made so if there were separate incidents that should have resulted in free kicks then they are not included here. Also, the timeline is in reverse order as I’ve lifted the match text commentary from the BBC website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/23644714
And no, I don’t have anything better to do this Sunday morning…
Gabriel Agbonlahor is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Fair and fair. Should have been booked earlier, another deliberate kick.
Unfair challenge on Bacary Sagna by Christian Benteke results in a free kick.
Fair. Benteke stands his ground. No real intent to move Sagna in mid air but he does land horribly.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Leandro Bacuna.
Fair. Shove in the back.
Foul by Karim El Ahmadi on Tomas Rosicky, free kick awarded.
Fair. More harrying.
Santi Cazorla is cautioned.
Not fair. Given the amount of ‘first foul’ leniency earlier in the game this is a harsh booking.
Foul by Santi Cazorla on Fabian Delph, free kick awarded.
Fair. Miscontrolled, late tackle but no impact made.
Fabian Delph gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carl Jenkinson.
Fortunate. Both players collide, but if anything Jenkinson looks late on Delph.
Theo Walcott fouled by Ashley Westwood, the ref awards a free kick.
Marginal. Two players jumping for a bouncing ball.
Ron Vlaar gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky.
Very not fair. Should have been a booking and then a sending off for his second yellow; no difference in principle to the Benteke caution a few minutes earlier.
Red card for Laurent Koscielny.
Laurent Koscielny challenges Andreas Weimann unfairly and gives away a free kick.
Mmmm… Arguably fair because Weimann appears to leap out from a challenge that was never made but Koscielny was late trying to get to the ball. Given the doubts the ref surely had in his mind from the first yellow, I would have expected a stern warning. Mertesacker lucky not to get a yellow in the follow-up advantage and Benteke does him a favour by not making a meal of his two footed challenge.
Ashley Westwood is shown a yellow card.
Unfair challenge on Aaron Ramsey by Ashley Westwood results in a free kick.
Fair. Challenge from behind. No complaints from anyone.
Laurent Koscielny shown a yellow card.
Gabriel Agbonlahor fouled by Laurent Koscielny, the ref awards a Penalty.
Fairish. If you’re Villa you say it is a penalty, if you’re Arsenal you say he won the ball. Koscielny does win the ball but he also does make quite a big impact on Agbonlahor’s trailing leg. Camera angle gives a ref’s eye view and, trying to be neutral, I struggle to see how he would see him clipping his foot when he would surely have been focusing on the ball?
Christian Benteke is shown a yellow card.
Christian Benteke concedes a free kick for a foul on Aaron Ramsey.
Fair. Ramsey looking to start an attack and is brought down. No complaints from Benteke.
Matthew Lowton concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere.
Fair / not fair. Cynical follow through after ball played away but, again, ‘first foul’ theory comes into play.
Per Mertesacker concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Fair. Classic example of a player winning a free kick. Sees Mertesacker coming, gets in front of him, is held and then falls over.
Unfair challenge on Andreas Weimann by Bacary Sagna results in a free kick.
Not fair. Just two players jockeying for the ball. It’s a man’s game!
Unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Gabriel Agbonlahor results in a free kick.
Fair / not fair. Another chase back by Agbonlahor where he made contact. Not as deliberate as his last one but arguably could trigger a booking given the totting up theory.
Caution for Antonio Luna.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Antonio Luna on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Fortunate. Both players slide with knees (ie not studs) first and appear to make contact simultaneously. Could be argued as a foul either way and can’t see how it is a booking for Luna.
Ashley Westwood concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere.
Fair. High foot, though not really endangering Jack.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Aaron Ramsey on Fabian Delph.
Fairish. Slightly mis-timed interception.
Unfair challenge on Aaron Ramsey by Gabriel Agbonlahor results in a free kick.
Fair. Deliberate clip of the heels.
Ashley Westwood concedes a free kick for a foul on Tomas Rosicky.
Fair / not fair. Cynical hack from behind from Westwood. Fabled ‘first foul’ rule probably applies but could have been bookng.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Tomas Rosicky on Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Fair / fortunate. Another poor challenge by Rosicky, his third, could easily have led to a yellow card.
Karim El Ahmadi challenges Jack Wilshere unfairly and gives away a free kick.
Fair. El Ahmadi runs into the back of Jack.
Jack Wilshere booked for unsporting behaviour.
Unfair. Wilshere reacts to Vlaar’s foul by getting up and shoving him. Unless he said something out of turn to the referee it doesn’t appear to warrant a caution.
Ron Vlaar is given a yellow card.
Ron Vlaar concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere.
Fair. Vlaar wipes out Wilshere and rightly gets booked.
Olivier Giroud concedes a free kick for a foul on Antonio Luna.
Not fair. Unless the camera angle from the ref’s side shows Giroud’s elbow makes contact with Luna, it just looks like he jumps higher than the defender who doesn’t make any effort to head it.
Wojciech Szczesny goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
Penalty awarded for a foul by Wojciech Szczesny on Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Unfair and fair. Definite penalty but referee clearly only whistles after seeing Weimann’s shot go wide. No signal of advantage given. Szczesny could have been sent off, though.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Bacary Sagna on Fabian Delph.
Fair. Delph hits the ball too far but Sagna clips him after slightly mis-timing the attempted interception.
Foul by Olivier Giroud on Matthew Lowton, free kick awarded.
Fair / not fair. Giroud doesn’t jump for a bouncing ball and does move toward a leaping Lowton and knocks him in mid-air.
Unfair challenge on Karim El Ahmadi by Aaron Ramsey results in a free kick.
Not fair. El Ahmadi’s heel may flick Ramsey accidentally but contact looks minimal and certainly doesn’t look intentional.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Tomas Rosicky on Ashley Westwood.
Fair. Clumsy, late tackle by Rosicky who chases a poorly weighted lay-off from the Ox. Gets a lecture from the ref.
Foul by Aaron Ramsey on Christian Benteke, free kick awarded.
Fair. Ramsey misplaces a pass and in his eagerness to make up for his mistake runs into the back of Benteke.
Andreas Weimann is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick.
Fair/fortunate. Ball bounces high and Weimann controls it with what looks like the top of his arm but from a distance could be his upper chest.
Unfair challenge on Fabian Delph by Tomas Rosicky results in a free kick.
Fair. Rosicky slides in the rear side – gets the ball but also takes Delph’s legs in the same motion.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Fair/fortunate. Agbonlahor harries Wilshere at his back but nothing major.