Arsenal's Kai Havertz dodged clear red card before late winner as Brentford fume

Kai Havertz was Arsenal’s matchwinner in a vital 2-1 home victory over Brentford on Saturday, which sent the Gunners top of the Premier League table. Mikel Arteta’s outfit were in danger of dropping two crucial points in the title race before Havertz stepped up to win the game, but question marks have been raised over whether he should have been on the pitch at the time.

Havertz has been transformed since being moved to a central striker, scoring in each of his last four league games as Gabriel Jesus continues his recovery from injury. The former Chelsea man has made that spot his own and handed Arteta a selection dilemma at the top of the pitch.

He rose highest to meet Ben White’s cross after Yoane Wissa had equalised on the stroke of half-time, capitalising on Aaron Ramsdale’s error, to level the scores as Declan Rice had given the hosts the lead 19 minutes in at the Emirates.

But Havertz may have been fortunate not to have received a second yellow card in the second half as a result of his tangle with Brentford defender Nathan Collins. He had already been booked in the first half after catching the Irish defender with his arm as they fought for a header.

After an hour of football had been played and the two sides remained level, Havertz burst into the penalty box and went down under what he believed to be enough contact from Collins that a spot-kick should have been awarded.

However, the referee thought otherwise and if Collins had touched Havertz it was nowhere near enough for a penalty as his protests were waved away. Several Brentford players took offence at Havertz’s claim and shouted at him as he got back up to his feet.

If the match official felt that Havertz had dived in an attempt to win a penalty, he should have awarded a second yellow card and given the 24-year-old his marching orders 20 minutes before he scored the winning goal.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank similarly fumed at the decision not to send Havertz off. “I actually don’t think Havertz should be on the pitch when he scored the goal,” Frank told Sky Sports.

“They (the players) were very angry because they felt they were hard done by with the penalty shout with Havertz. You can see the angles, it was clearly a dive. That was a second yellow and then it is 11 v 10.

“I think that was a crucial moment in the game. I hope they admit they got something with them there, because last time there was a lot of complaint about a VAR situation marginally going our way. Hopefully they remember that when they talk after the game.”