Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has stood by both the club’s and his own criticism of Premier League officiating after their loss at Newcastle on Saturday as the Football Association asked for observations following the condemnation of referees.
The Gunners lost 1-0 at St James’ Park – their first Premier League defeat of the campaign – as Anthony Gordon scored a controversial winner for the hosts.
The second-half goal was checked for three separate VAR offences – the ball going out of play, a foul by Joelinton on Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes and a potential offside – but survived them all to ultimately earn Newcastle the three points.
Speaking after the defeat, Arteta said it was “embarrassing” and a “disgrace” that the goal stood, while Arsenal issued a statement on Sunday in support of their manager’s forthright views.
However, the PA news agency understands Arteta and Arsenal could now be charged by the FA after the governing body wrote to both manager and club asking for their observations on the matter.
The club have three business days to respond to the request before the FA makes its decision on whether to take no further action, remind Arsenal of their responsibilities, give out a formal warning or issue a charge.
Arsenal could fall foul of breaching Rule E3.1 of the FA code, relating to media comments, but there is no specific punishment if they are found guilty.
Asked before news of the FA getting in touch if he would have done anything differently, Arteta replied: “It is my duty to stand in front of you, to stand in front of the cameras, and give a very clear and honest assessment of what happened in the game.
“And this is what I did, reflect very openly on how I felt that the team played and how the game was conditioned by this results with the decisions that were made. It is the duty.
“My duty is to be defending my players, supporting my players, supporting my club, defending my people in the best possible way and this is what I am going to do time after time.
“I do it, not the way I feel, (but) with the evidence and being as clear as possible. And I always do it, when we play real I need to say it, when we have lost, to take my responsibility, the first one is me to do it. It is the way that I am and I have to defend my club.”
Arteta suggested it is the duty of managers to discuss VAR and the issues it is currently presenting within the game.
“If you guys and everyone watching football are there, we have to give our opinion in an honest way and clear,” he added.
“Don’t talk about other things. Be very clear and respectful, but clear and honest and value what we have.
“Errors are part of evolution. The trajectory is never going to be like this (gestures straight up), there are always going to be bumps in the road and these things are necessary to improve the game in the right way.
“But we have to talk loudly. If you have a problem and you put it in your drawer, the problem is in the drawer and it’s going to stink at some point. If you have a problem, let’s talk about it, try to improve it. That’s what we are trying to do. Nothing else.”
Arsenal’s statement claimed “yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors” occurred during the loss at Newcastle as the club “wholeheartedly supports” Arteta’s comments, stating players, coaches and supporters “deserve better”.
The statement has been criticised in some quarters with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville labelling it “dangerous”.
Arteta, though, believes it does not legitimise those who abuse referees for perceived poor decision-making against the club.
“No, the support we have given to everybody is not going to change. I will be in meetings trying to reinforce that,” he said.
“This is not the topic. Everyone wants the same thing, but we have to understand that we (managers) have to be there.
“We have a duty to express how we feel with all the evidence we have and the history of what happened.
“We have to stand for our people, our values and who we are. When the club has done it, it’s been in very specific moments for the right reasons.
“It shows the unity and understanding that is within the club to position ourselves in a really clear and honest way. That’s our duty as a club.”
Arteta was speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League clash against Sevilla, where victory on Wednesday night could see his side qualify for the knockout stages with two Group B games to go.
“The moment you have a chance in football to put it to bed, do it,” he said of wrapping up qualification early.
“We have to do a lot of things right tomorrow to earn the right to win it and against a really good team with enormous experience in this competition.
“We have to prove it tomorrow in front of our people how excited we are to play that game and what it means for us.”