Lee Dixon told BBC Radio 5 Live (22/10, 20:58) that referee Craig Pawson did not make a clear and obvious error by not giving Arsenal a penalty against Aston Villa at first on Friday.
The Gunners beat the travelling Villans 3-1 after goals from Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe. Aubameyang hit home after missing from the spot in the sixth-minute of first-half stoppage-time after the VAR checked a tackle by Matt Targett.
Targett tried to clear the danger inside Emiliano Martinez’s area to save Villa on the stroke of half-time. But in lunging, the left-back went through the back of Alexandre Lacazette and brought the Frenchman down. Pawson checked the incident at the pitchside monitor and decided to overturn his initial decision to not award a penalty.
Martinez saved Aubameyang’s penalty, but the Aston Villa goalkeeper could only parry the shot and the Arsenal striker reacted first. The goal gave Mikel Arteta’s men a comfortable advantage going into the break after dominating the opening 45-minutes.
Dixon questions Arsenal penalty decision
However, Dixon was unsure if Pawson had enough evidence to overturn his initial decision and give Arsenal a penalty. Believing that Targett’s collision with Lacazette was a close call to being a foul or not, even after the replays.
“He makes contact with the ball, and he makes contact with the back of the leg as well,” Dixon said. “The defender will feel that is very harsh because he makes contact with the ball, but he also makes contact with his leg marginally before.
“Is that clear and obvious when looking at it again, that it is a penalty? I don’t think so. In which case you stick to your original decision. But he saw it again and obviously thought he had got it wrong.”
Was Pawson right to give Arsenal a pen against Villa?
Aston Villa’s Targett may feel harshly done with Pawson awarding Arsenal a penalty which cemented their advantage, like Dixon suggests. The full-back only had eyes for the ball in attempting to make a clearance, but did touch Lacazette’s leg first. Marginally.
And by going through the back of the centre-forward’s calf, Pawson felt there was enough to point to the spot. Deeming his initial reaction of there not being a foul as the mistake he made, rather than giving the penalty.