Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left fuming following his side’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor because of the ‘obvious and clear’ penalty the Spaniard thought the Gunners should have been awarded.
It was a passage of play that saw Nicolas Pepe take on the Burnley left-back Erik Pieters, whose arm appeared to meet the ball and block it. The incident wasn’t flagged up by VAR and the game continued.
Pieters was later penalised for a separate incident when he blocked a goal-bound shot from Pepe, which deflected onto the crossbar and clear. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, but VAR intervened when replays showed it had struck his shoulder.
The latter incident was a perfect example of how VAR should work, but Arteta was perplexed as to why the first incident wasn’t ruled a penalty, which could have given Arsenal the win.
“I think it’s obvious and clear, I think there is no debate about that. If that is not a penalty, then would someone explain what a penalty is in this league,” he said, via Arsenal.com.
“We created, but we didn’t score enough. We gave a goal to the opponent and then don’t get the decision that we should get. It then becomes very difficult to win the game.”
Having taken the lead early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the goal that Arsenal gave away was avoidable and the result of Granit Xhaka trying to play a pass that had been closed off by Burnley forward Chris Wood, who blocked it and diverted the ball into the goal.
Arteta defended Xhaka’s decision making in that instance, insisting that possession-based football from the back is still how he wants his team to play, despite the risks involved.
“It is what it is, it’s the way that we play and the way that I want to play,” the boss explained.
“We just have to know the risk and the rules that we have in certain areas in terms of the type of balls we have to play. But it is what it is.”
Arteta admits that with Arsenal firmly among the mid-table group of clubs, qualifying for Europe next season via the Premier League alone is ‘really complicated’ and will rely on major improvements between now and the end of the campaign.
“It’s true that the feeling that I have with the way we are playing is that we can win any game, but if you are giving something to the opponent, obviously the game is on the line all the time. This is where, in my opinion, we have the biggest margin of improvement. But anything can happen,” he said.