Tottenham Hotspur lost to Arsenal in the North London Derby on Saturday, conceding two first half goals in a very disappointing performance at the Emirates Stadium. However, while few would say that Arsenal weren’t the better side, the major talking point after the match was Arsenal’s first goal, and whether it should’ve been allowed in the first place.
Official Mike Dean first called Davinson Sanchez for a very soft foul on Alexis Sanchez that led to a long free kick. That dead-ball was headed home by Shkodran Mustafi, and replays showed that he was in an offside position when the kick was taken.
Afterwards, Mauricio Pochettino conceded defeat, but said that he wasn’t pleased with the officiating in the match.
"I need to say nothing, everyone who was here or at home watching the game, they saw what happened. We have to move on. It's not easy to accept, because we lose the game. We were better than them until the goal. The free-kick, I think (it was) offside. The first, sure [was offside], the second one maybe.
"In this type of game when you play top sides like Arsenal, it's little details. It changed the game and that disappointed me. But that's football. We have to accept."
Tottenham’s coaching staff was furious with the decision, and at halftime assistant manager Jesus Perez waited in the tunnel to give an earful to Dean as they walked back to the changing rooms.
It wasn’t just the Spurs coaching staff who thought so, either. Eric Dier also went on record saying that the decisions made by Mike Dean and his officiating crew changed the game, and not in Spurs’ favor.
"There is so much on the line, for a goal to be decided in the manner it was is very disappointing. It changed the game.
"I don't want to get in trouble but everyone can see it. If that's a foul then soon we won't be able to touch each other. Nobody wants that. But there can be no excuses."
Look, nobody’s saying that Spurs were the better side or that they deserved to win. It was one of the worst matches I’ve seen Spurs play this season, and stuff like that happens in football. It sucks, but it’s a thing.
But you have to kind of wonder: if that first goal isn’t wrongfully allowed to stand (or if the Sanchez-on-Sanchez foul isn’t called), might Spurs have done just enough to muck out an ugly scoreless draw and salvage a point from the match? We’ll never know.