Pundit blasts Arsenal for ‘unprofessional’ moment in 4-0 win
Arsenal were awarded two penalties in Sunday’s win over Bournemouth, with Martin Odegaard scoring the first to give the Gunners a 2-0 lead, before the team opted to give Kai Havertz the second.
Havertz was still yet to score his first Arsenal goal, putting pressure on his shoulders every time he stepped onto the pitch, and that was presumably what the players were looking to address by handing him the penalty.
The German international converted the spot-kick, he was mobbed by his teammates, and the Arsenal fans spent much of the remainder of the match singing his name.
Yet ESPN’s Steve Nicol believes it was an unprofessional risk for Arsenal to hand the kick to Havertz.
“If you’re the coach of a team and you allow things like that to happen, then it spreads into other things,” Nicol said.
“You have to be precise, and orders are orders. You take the penalties, or you take the penalties, one of the two of you. Not: ‘Oh let’s be nice and fuzzy and lovely and give it to Havertz’.
“Do you think him scoring a goal there is going to make any difference to the way he plays in the middle of the park? No, it’s not. It’s unprofessional.”
The quotes are rather amusing considering Havertz is one of Arsenal’s very best penalty takers.
The former Chelsea man has taken 12 penalties in his senior career (excluding shootouts), scoring 11. He’d also scored one in Arsenal’s Emirates Cup shootout during pre-season.
Of Arsenal’s players to take 10 senior penalties or more, Havertz is the only one with a conversion rate above 90%.
From the Arsenal squad, only Jorginho (41 converted from 48 attempts) has taken significantly more penalties than Havertz. At the time, Jorginho wasn’t on the pitch.
So whilst he may not be Arsenal’s guaranteed taker – yet – Havertz was arguably the best choice from the players on the pitch.
When it comes to the morale boost that Nicol is so keen to underplay, you only had to watch the way Havertz responded to the goal and to the fans singing for him over the next 30 minutes.
The impact was clear to anyone watching the game.