Soccer

Arsenal say Premier League players and fans deserve higher refereeing standards

Arsenal have thrown their support behind manager Mikel Arteta after his angry post-match comments about VAR after a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Arsenal have thrown their support behind manager Mikel Arteta after his angry post-match comments about VAR after a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA) Arsenal have thrown their support behind manager Mikel Arteta after his angry post-match comments about VAR after a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Arsenal have called for refereeing standards to be addressed and thrown their support behind manager Mikel Arteta after he branded the VAR decision not to rule out Anthony Gordon’s match-winner at Newcastle “an absolute disgrace”.

The Premier League club issued a statement on Sunday, saying they “wholeheartedly support” Arteta’s post-match comments after “yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors”.

Gordon’s controversial goal secured a 1-0 victory for Newcastle and ended Arsenal’s 10-game unbeaten Premier League start.

“Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors on Saturday evening,” read a club statement.

“We’d also like to acknowledge the huge effort and performance from our players and travelling supporters at St James’ Park.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world with the best players, coaches and supporters, all of whom deserve better.

“PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.

Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St. James’ Park
Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St. James’ Park Anthony Gordon’s controversial goal stood as Newcastle beat Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“We support the ongoing efforts of chief refereeing officer Howard Webb and would welcome working together to achieve the world-class officiating standards our league demands.”

Arteta failed to hide his anger at St James’ Park after referee Stuart Attwell awarded the Newcastle goal following a triple VAR check to see whether the ball had gone out of play before Joe Willock’s cross, whether Joelinton had fouled Arsenal defender Gabriel and whether Gordon had been offside.

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher hit out at the Gunners on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying: “That Arsenal statement & complaints from their manager about the officials & VAR, on the Newcastle goal, is way over the top!”

Speaking on Sky, Carragher added: “I love the fact Mikel Arteta was passionate, really honest, emotional and it was great TV. I didn’t actually agree with it in terms of not being happy about the VAR.

“I can understand there were three checks with it and the goal was still given. But I’m still scratching my head at what Mikel Arteta and Arsenal are unhappy about with that goal – what part of it?

“Put yourself in Howard Webb’s position or VAR. They can’t conclusively know whether that ball was in or out and the on-field decision was that the game carried on. So they have to go with that.

“The ball comes in the box. Is it a foul? It’s probably 50-50, but it’s not a terrible decision. Me being a centre-back I look at Gabriel and say: ‘You know what mate, you should have been stronger. Head that away.’

“The last bit is that it wasn’t given offside and VAR didn’t have an angle or camera it could see because everyone was in close proximity. So what do you want VAR or the officials to do?

“Should we have camera angles that cover every piece of pitch? I get that as an argument. Can we improve that to make it easier for the officials?

“But this is not another one to jump on the bandwagon and batter VAR and people at Stockley Park, because that’s not right.

“Nothing was conclusive after the goal was given on field. So it had to be a goal. End of story.”

Fellow pundit Gary Neville said Arsenal’s statement was “wrong”, suggesting such complaints undermine “the system and the whole refereeing community”.

“I played for a club where a manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) went mad after games if we felt a decision had gone against us,” the former Manchester United defender wrote on social media.

“You feel like it’s us against the world. I get it. Everyone hates us, the refs are out to stitch us up and theirs bias v us. However I can never remember the club writing letters undermining the system and the whole refereeing community.

“When I look back now I don’t think as players we always covered ourselves in glory with refs and also at a big club we all feel entitled and you have to leave and retire to be able to see that.

“Arsenal’s letter and even the Liverpool statement a few weeks ago (they had a genuine bad one v them) are wrong. Do it privately.

“If I was Howard Webb I would stop apologising to them and get on with it. Managers and players make far more mistakes than refs!”

The Premier League declined to comment on Arsenal’s statement when contacted by the PA news agency.