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Arsenal statement backs Mikel Arteta over ‘unacceptable errors’ in VAR row

Arsenal have released a stinging statement in support of Mikel Arteta’s attack on VAR and lambasted Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) by saying the referees’ body “urgently needs to address the standard of officiating”. The Gunners added that the Premier League, often referred to as the best competition in the game, should uphold “world‑class” refereeing standards.

Arsenal felt aggrieved that Anthony Gordon’s 64th-minute winner for Newcastle on Saturday was not disallowed despite a triple VAR check, which took more than four minutes before the referee, Stuart Attwell, confirmed his decision. The VAR, Andy Madley, reviewed the goal for a possible offside, foul and to determine whether Joe Willock ran the ball out of play in the buildup. Arteta said the “disgraceful” decision to allow the goal made him feel “sick” and “embarrassed”.

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Arsenal released a statement on Sunday after what they described as “more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors” in defeat 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 urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.”

There were a number of flashpoints in a spiky contest with Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe, saying there was a lack of discipline from both teams. Arsenal’s Kai Havertz was fortunate to avoid a red card for scything down Sean Longstaff and Newcastle’s Bruno Guimarães could consider himself lucky to avoid punishment for an elbow on Jorginho.

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Arsenal’s statement, to which the PGMOL is yet to respond, ended: “We support the ongoing efforts of [PGMOL’s] chief refereeing officer Howard Webb and would welcome working together to achieve the world‑class officiating standard our league demands.”

Last month the PGMOL was pressed into releasing VAR audio after it apologised for wrongly disallowing Luis Díaz’s goal for Liverpool in defeat at Tottenham. The PGMOL acknowledged the “significant human error” in which the VAR, Darren England, and his assistant, Dan Cook, failed to overrule the officials’ on‑field decision. At the time the Premier League said a full review of VAR procedures was to be forthcoming, after describing the Díaz incident as revealing “systemic failures” in the decision-making process.