Arteta: Arsenal want points back after VAR error

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal, reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brentford FC at Emirates Stadium on February 11, 2023 in London, England. 

Mikel Arteta has accused referee Lee Mason of “not understanding” his job as a VAR official and said Arsenal have “huge anger” over the mistake which influenced Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Brentford.

Ivan Toney’s 74th-minute header earned Brentford a point at the Emirates Stadium despite Christian Norgaard assisting the goal from an offside position – an error referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) subsequently labelled as “human error.”

PGMOL apologised to Arsenal while Mason was dropped from his VAR duties for this weekend’s Premier League games but Arteta nevertheless lamented the decision which enabled Manchester City to cut their lead at the summit to just three points ahead of Wednesday’s meeting between the top two sides.

“We ended the game after analysing all the evidence that we’ve had with the images with a huge anger and disappointment because that wasn’t a human error, that was a big not conceiving and understanding your job and that’s not acceptable, I’m sorry,” Arteta told a news conference on Tuesday.

“That costs Arsenal two points that’s not going to be restored. We’re going to have to find those two points somewhere in the league.

“At the same time we appreciate the apology and the explanations and we got a lot of sympathy from colleagues in the industry and in football who say that we cannot play the game with the integrity like we do. That’s it. We have to move on.

“That has certainly made the players, staff and our fans stronger and given them more desire to pass this hurdle that they put on us. So we’re ready for it.”

Asked if he was satisfied by the PGMOL’s explanation, Arteta added: “I will only be satisfied if they give us the two points back which is not going to be the case.

“I appreciate and I think they were really sincere, open and genuine apologies and explanations, which is really good.

“But it doesn’t take the fact that we have two less points than we should have on the table. When I see the reaction for example that Howard Webb had, the PGMOL had, the Premier League had and how genuine it was. That anger.

“They want to do the best they can and they understand everything that is at stake. I think at the end it will help and hopefully we can use that to make the game better and have more integrity on it, better professionals and really pay attention to details that matter because at the end of the day it has a significant output on results.”

Arteta said he did want to single out any one official for criticism, despite Mason also being stood down earlier in the season for incorrectly disallowing a goal for Newcastle United against Crystal Palace in September.

“It’s not for me to judge punishments,” Arteta said. “It’s not about someone making a mistake and then let’s crucify him.

“It’s trying to do the best that we can together to have a fairer sport and make the decisions clearer and better. Hopefully that will help because of what happened last weekend.”

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