Cape Town - Gary Cahill reckons Arsenal were
fortunate to come away with a draw against Crystal Palace after the
"rugby tackle" on Wilfried Zaha.
The winger was flying forward on the counter-attack in the closing
stages of Sunday's 2-2 Premier League draw only to be taken out, almost
spear-like, by Gunners midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.
The visitors had already shocked the Emirates Stadium by recovering
from two goals down after Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz had
struck inside 106 seconds.
Luka Milivojevic pulled one back from the spot after the Video
Assistant Referee overturned Martin Atkinson's decision to book Zaha for
diving, with Jordan Ayew’s second-half header earning the Eagles a
The game will be remembered for Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka's
extraordinary outburst as he swore at home fans who greeted his
substitution with cheers.
Although he would not be drawn on that particular incident, Cahill
insisted a late Sokratis strike was correctly ruled out by VAR before
Zaha was stopped in unorthodox fashion - with the winger himself
comparing the challenge to something found in the NFL.
"I think the lads were definitely adamant there was something at the
near-post and I think that is where VAR is very good," he said.
"Because when there are a lot of bodies in the box and there is a big
incident like that it was easily missed back in the day so that is
where VAR comes in and is very good because that is a huge moment - to
go 3-2 down with five minutes to go it would be very difficult for us to
"They are big moments and I think the right decision was given and we
could have nicked it at the end with the obvious rugby tackle on the
half-way line which was a professional foul but if Wilf skips away from
there then who knows what happens at the end?"
Cahill also admitted the Palace players smelt blood as soon as
Milivojevic had halved the arrears as the atmosphere inside the stadium
changed almost instantly.
"It is about character and personality," the former Chelsea defender said.
"That is a big moment, to go two down early on and come back. As soon
as we got the first one, I knew it was game on and thankfully we ended
up at the end nicking a point.
"I have been there myself in moments when things have not been going
great. Big clubs' fans expect result after result and for us to come
here, they started well and it settled the crowd down but then it was
for us to react, turnaround and not accept that we are going to roll
"We hit them on the break a few times and in the end we took a point
which, given the tough run of games we've got, is a very good point."
- TeamTalk Media