5 of the most controversial decisions that went against Arsenal in the VAR era
Arsenal have compiled a list of instances in which they’ve felt let down by the match officials, according to a new report.
The Daily Mail claim that Arsenal are set to continue their spat with the referee chiefs in the coming days after Mikel Arteta’s impassioned rant about the state of officiating following Saturday’s defeat at Newcastle.
The club put out a statement backing the manager’s comments, which means this saga could continue to run.
Here are five of the incidents from recent years that we expect to be included in Arsenal’s complaint.
Anthony Gordon’s goal – Newcastle (A), Nov 2023
There were a series of controversial moments in Arsenal’s 1-0 loss away to Newcastle, their first league defeat of the 2023-24 campaign.
Bruno Guimaraes could have been sent off for a forearm smash on Jorginho. Newcastle also felt aggrieved when Kai Havertz escaped with a yellow card for what appeared a reckless challenge that caught Sean Longstaff.
But the game’s major flashpoint came via Anthony Gordon’s match-winner, which was scored midway through the second half. There were three separate VAR checks but after a long delay the video assistant referees found there was insufficient cause to disallow the header.
Replays were inconclusive on whether the ball had gone out of play before being crossed in, and whether Gordon was offside. Perhaps the most controversial element was whether Joelinton had fouled Gabriel Magalhaes in the build-up.
“Stuart Attwell didn’t think it’s a foul,” former referee Dermot Gallagher explained on the official Premier League website. “That’s the difference. The VAR didn’t think there was enough contact to overrule the referee so therefore the on-field decision stood.”
Arteta has never looked angrier than he did when he conducted his post-match media duties.
"I feel sick. That's how I feel. I feel sick to be part of this."
An ANGRY Mikel Arteta shares his thoughts on the controversial Newcastle goal that meant Arsenal suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season. 😳 pic.twitter.com/fYT5lyo6eF
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 4, 2023
No red card for Mateo Kovacic – Man City (H), Oct 2023
Gabriel Martinelli’s late deflected winner secured Arsenal’s first Premier League victory over Man City since 2015, meaning that the match’s earlier controversy involving Mateo Kovacic was ultimately rendered inconsequential.
For that reason, it was quickly forgotten about, but Arsenal have evidently remembered by including the incident in their complaint to PGMOL – according to the Mail’s new report.
The Croatia international can consider himself fortunate that he wasn’t dismissed for a late challenge on Martin Odegaard midway through the first half. VAR could have advised the referee to send Kovacic off, but it was kept only as a yellow.
He was then extra lucky to avoid a second booking for catching Declan Rice, although VAR cannot intervene on such decisions.
Mateo Kovačić escapes with just a yellow for this challenge on Martin Ødegaard 😬 pic.twitter.com/dHPyZZzr7H
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 8, 2023
Ivan Toney’s goal – Brentford (H), Feb 2023
Arsenal were still riding high on top of the table when they hosted Brentford in February 2023.
They dropped two points in a 1-1 draw, but PGMOL apologised after the VAR erroneously allowed Ivan Toney’s equaliser to stand. The VAR Lee Mason failed to draw all of the correct lines when determining whether the assister Christian Norgaard was offside.
“I will only be satisfied if they give the two points back,” Arteta raged in response.
“There was huge anger and disappointment because that wasn’t human error, that was a big misunderstanding of your job. That is not acceptable, I’m sorry. It cost Arsenal two points, we’ll have to find those two points somewhere else in the league.”
A few days later it was announced that Mason had left PGMOL and would no longer continue to officiate matches in the Premier League.
Disallowed Gabriel Martinelli goal – Man Utd (A), Sept 2022
Arteta’s Gunners won their first five league outings of 2022-23 but suffered a setback when they visited Old Trafford with a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at the start of September.
Things might have gone differently that afternoon had Martinelli’s early opener been given. It was chalked off due to a supposed foul from Martin Odegaard on Christian Eriksen in the build-up.
“In my opinion it’s never a foul,” Odegaard responded.
“A soft challenge and for VAR to come in it has to be clear and obvious. Very, very soft. You can make it look worse on camera. Never a foul, the referee said play on.”
PGMOL later concurred with the Norwegian, admitting that the decision to disallow the goal was a mistake.
One year ago today, Paul Tierney and Lee Mason disallowed this Gabriel Martinelli goal at Old Trafford…pic.twitter.com/1hmXVFEyme
— Gunners (@Gunnersc0m) September 4, 2023
Red card and penalty – Wolves (A), February 2021
Arsenal suffered a night to forget when they visited Molineux in February 2021. They were reduced to nine men, with Bernd Leno following David Luiz into the changing room for an early bath.
There were few complaints over Leno’s dismissal but there was plenty of debate over Luiz’s red card.
Craig Pawson sent off the Brazilian for a last-man challenge on Willian Jose, but it hadn’t appeared as though he’d made any challenge for the ball – while the degree of contact was contentious. VAR Jonathan Moss didn’t believe any error had been made.
“I am sitting here and I’m expecting to see something and I’m not seeing anything,” Arteta replied.
“It changed the game – to play with 10 men for 45 minutes in the Premier League without your centre-back, against this opposition of course it changes the game.”
Arsenal appealed Luiz’s suspension but they were denied as the powers that be held firm.