The five most controversial Arsenal VAR decisions of all-time following Newcastle outrage
Have Arsenal got a case in all of them?
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta launched a furious post-match tirade after VAR refused to rule-out Newcastle’s hugely controversial winner at St James’ Park on Saturday night.
The first was whether or not the ball was out of play, the second whether there had been a foul on Gabriel by Joelinton, and the third whether or not Gordon was in an offside position.
After the lengthy stoppage, it was determined that the goal should stand in the absence of any evidence to the contrary – a decision Arteta branded ’embarrassing’ and ‘disgraceful’.
So, as the debate over the legality of the goal rages on, let’s take a look at the five most controversial VAR decisions which have gone against Arsenal since the technology was introduced in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season.
Arsenal vs Brentford, February 2023
Arsenal were on the wrong end of an enormous error when VAR referee Lee Mason failed to draw all of the necessary lines when determining if Christian Norgaard was offside when he assisted Ivan Toney’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) admitted that their had been a ‘significant’ error, with PGMOL chief Howard Webb contacting Arsenal to apologise after the match.
A fuming Arteta raged after the game: ‘I will only be satisfied if they give the two points back.
‘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.’
It was announced six days later that Mason had left the PGMOL by ‘mutual consent’ and would no longer officiate in the Premier League.
Manchester United vs Arsenal, September 2022
Gabriel Martinelli thought he had put the away side ahead in the 12th minute, only to see his effort ruled after Paul Tierney advised Mason that Martin Odegaard had fouled Christian Eriksen in the build-up.
Arsenal were incensed that their goal had been chalked off, with Odegaard adamant that the decision was ‘very, very soft’.
The Norwegian said post-match: ‘In my opinion it is never a foul. 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.’
Arteta waded into the debate, insisting Mason ‘said it was a really soft decision,’ with the PGMOL later admitting that it had been a mistake.
United, having taken the lead through Antony before being pegged back by Bukayo Saka’s equaliser, claimed all three points with Marcus Rashford’s second-half brace gifting them a 3-1 win.
Chelsea vs Arsenal, October 2023
Referee Chris Kavanagh and VAR Jarred Gillett elected to give Chelsea a penalty after Mykhailo Mudryk’s header struck a jumping William Saliba’s outstretched arm from close range.
Kavanagh initially waved away Chelsea’s protests and the game continued, only for him to be instructed to head to the monitor to take another look at the incident during the next stoppage of play.
The referee pointed to the spot, with Cole Palmer keeping his cool amid the Arsenal demonstrations to fire the Blues into the lead.
Even Chelsea legend John Terry disagreed with the decision, saying ‘I would have been fuming if that was given against me back in the day.’
Arteta was also frustrated with the decision, when asked by reporters for his view after the game: ‘I already mentioned what I think to the ref and I got booked so I prefer not to comment on that.
‘The law is clear as well in where the ball has to be in relation to the action. It’s very close and it’s impossible to jump without lifting your hands. Mechanically it’s impossible.’
Wolves vs Arsenal, February 2021
Wolves were awarded a penalty when David Luiz was adjudged to have brought down Willian Jose when he was through on goal.
Referee Craig Pawson immediately brandished a red card to the Brazilian defender, whose early first-half bath and the resultant successful spot kick contributed to the 2-1 defeat behind closed doors.
However, replays actually showed Jose’s trailing foot initiating contact with Luiz on his knee, with the striker then seemingly throwing himself to the ground after kicking the ground with a mis-hit shot – but VAR were having none of it.
Arteta, who later saw Bernd Leno sent off as Arsenal were reduced to nine men, complained: ‘I am sitting here and I’m expecting to see something and I’m not seeing anything. 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.’
The Gunners appealed the red card decision but were unsuccessful.
Arsenal vs Manchester City, January 2022
Granit Xhaka and Bernardo Silva grappled in the box during the New Year’s Day clash at the Emirates, only for play to be waved on by Referee Stuart Attwell, who was of the opinion that the Portuguese playmaker had flung himself to the ground.
But VAR intervened and sent Attwell over to the monitor, with the referee changing his original decision despite replays appearing to show Silva already heading down as Xhaka pulled his leg away.
Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas was enraged with the awarding of the penalty, taking to Twitter to simply say: ‘That’s never a pen. Terrible decision.’
The mood around the Emirates was not helped when Rodri scored a stoppage time winner for the runaway leaders.
Attwell, who also elected not to award Arsenal a penalty when Odegaard went down in the box under a challenge from Ederson, left the pitch to a chorus of boos from the home supporters.
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