Arsenal have hidden a shocking “vote of confidence” in Mikel Arteta within their statement supporting his rant against VAR decisions at Newcastle. Concerned board members and senior executives decided overnight on Saturday that it was wrong to leave the Gunners boss as the lone voice questioning the validity of Newcastle’s goal in the 1-0 win – along with a number of other fringe decisions.
With the first rumblings of pressure falling on the Spaniard’s shoulders after almost four years in charge, the VAR issue was seen as the perfect way to demonstrate Arteta’s continued solidarity with the club as a whole.
A late draw against Chelsea overshadowed Arsenal’s large share of the game at the Emirates and their defeat against fellow Champions League rivals Newcastle soon followed Arsenal’s exit out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, it unsolicited emphasis on how Arteta will cope. with rare fruit decline.
The frustration of three very tight decisions in the run-up to Newcastle’s goal all go against his side – whether the ball went out of play, the possibility of a foul and the question of offside. – led to some strong language from Arteta. In various post-match interviews he used words such as “unacceptable”, “disgraceful”, “disgraceful”.
In the chilly light of the day, those behind the scenes at the north London club were worried about the social media uproar from Arteta’s strong comments. With results on the pitch going against the team this week, they wanted to make sure Arteta didn’t look like an isolated figure.
More important than the details of the VAR calls in question, this was an opportunity for the club to show support for their manager at the first suggestion of a downturn in fortunes. Fortunately, there is an undercurrent of more valid reasons against the way the new technology is being implemented that such a message touches on.
Liverpool had fully justified concerns about their treatment of Spurs up front and earlier apologized to Wolves’ Howard Webb over a penalty incident involving United goalkeeper Andre Onana. This was in addition to 10 letters of apology written by Webb’s predecessor Mike Riley the previous season.
Newcastle’s goal against Arsenal may be anything but the perfect example, but it is clear that something needs to be done to improve the implementation of VAR across the Premier League. Arsenal have therefore been praised by other Premier League clubs for taking a stand. At the Emirates, however, the main concern is undoubtedly keeping their manager feeling supported and loved – and no amount of social media abuse is going to get that off the top of the agenda.
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