Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he does not understand VAR after its role in the red card for young Gunners forward Eddie Nketiah’s in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester.
Nketiah was sent off seconds after coming on when his late lunge on James Justin was deemed worthy of a sending-off by referee Chris Kavanagh after he came to the side of the pitch to review the incident.
“In the last year I have never seen a referee check any images,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“I do not understand the rules. But I can do nothing now.”
In January this year, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body that manages elite referees, said referees should start using pitchside monitors for red card decisions where it is felt they should have the final say.
Following that advice Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo was red-carded by Graham Scott after he used the monitors to review a foul in the 1-0 defeat by Newcastle on March 7.
Arteta felt there was no consistency and a Leicester player should have been sent off in the closing minutes of the first half.
“It can be a red card but then Leicester have to play with 10 men,” said Arteta.
“For an incident that happened between the 40th and 45th minute, it has to be a red card as well.”
Arteta is the latest manager to question VAR with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, Everton’s Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho of Tottenham Hotspur calling for a review of the rules at the season.
The draw left Leicester fourth and still in the running for a Champions League place while Arsenal are seventh.
Arsenal climbed back into the race to qualify for the Champions League as Bukayo Saka’s first Premier League goal inspired a crucial 2-0 win against Wolves on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta’s side made it three successive league victories thanks to Saka’s first half strike and a late Alexandre Lacazette goal at Molineux.
Arsenal are now six points behind fourth placed Manchester United with five games left.
The Gunners remain a long shot to reach next season’s Champions League, but if second placed Manchester City’s continental ban is upheld, a fifth place finish would secure a place in Europe’s elite club competition.
Just days after Saka signed a new long-term contract with the club, the 18-year-old underlined the potential of Arsenal’s emerging crop of academy graduates.
After the panic caused by consecutive defeats following the coronavirus hiatus, Arteta has steadied the ship impressively.
Wolves’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were hit by their first defeat in four games since the restart and they now sit three points behind Manchester United.
Once again there was no place in the Arsenal squad for out of favour midfielder Mesut Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi, while Nicolas Pepe was absent after his wife went into labour.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had Arsenal’s first sight of goal when he stabbed straight at Wolves keeper Rui Patricio from a Dani Ceballos corner.
Adama Traore carried the main threat for Wolves and the winger teased Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac before crossing just too high for Leander Dendoncker.
David Luiz responded to another menacing raid from Traore by cynically chopping him down to earn a booking.
Arsenal’s youngsters were growing into the game and Eddie Nketiah almost caught Rui Patricio off guard with a long-range shot that the keeper had to turn onto the post with his foot.
The visitors took the lead two minutes before half-time when Willy Boly misjudged the bounce and Aubameyang touched it on to Kieran Tierney.
Tierney’s deflected cross reached Saka and he hooked a fine finish past Rui Patricio from 12 yards.
Saka’s fourth goal of the season in all competitions was the first Wolves had conceded in 448 minutes stretching back to their win at Tottenham on March 1.
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez appealed in vain for a penalty when Cedric Soares made contact with him as they challenge for Traore’s cross.
The introduction of substitute Diogo Jota lifted Wolves and the midfielder had a goalbound shot blocked by Luiz.
Traore should have done better than chip tamely wide from Jota’s defence-splitting pass, while Pedro Neto’s effort was too close to Emiliano Martinez.
Lacazette came off the bench to wrap up the points three minutes after his introduction.
The French forward took Joe Willock’s pass and drove a clinical strike past Rui Patricio in the 86th minute.
Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal’s underachieving stars that he will be “ruthless” as the new boss looks to restore a winning mentality to his troubled club.
Arteta, who had been working as an assistant to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, was hired by Arsenal on Friday after agreeing a three-and-a-half-year contract to replace the sacked Unai Emery.
The former Arsenal midfielder arrives at the Emirates Stadium to find a team in crisis following a wretched run that cost Emery his job and reaffirmed the sense the Gunners have lost their way since the final years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League after a run of one win in 12 games in all competitions, Arsenal hope Arteta can steady the ship and eventually turn the north Londoners into contenders for a top four berth.
And Arteta, speaking at his official unveiling at the Emirates on Friday, made it clear he will take a hardline to ensure the malaise doesn’t continue any longer.
“I have to engage the players, when I was here with Man City (last week) everyone was a bit down,” Arteta told reporters.
“We have to have the right culture here, if we don’t then the tree will shake.
“After that we can talk about other things. We need an immediate impact and need to raise the level of the performances to start winning games and engage with the fans.
“The ambition of this football club is very clear. You have to fight for trophies and be in Europe. The rest is not good enough.”
Arteta has earned praise from Guardiola for the work he did with City’s players during their title-winning campaigns.
The Gunners boss is ready to put the lessons he learned from Guardiola into action, starting with a single-minded approach to installing his own philosophy at a club desperately lacking purpose and unity in recent years.
“What I have learned mostly is you have to be ruthless, consistent and fit the culture of the club to sustain a winning mentality,” Arteta said.
“Every act is important. Pep’s work-rate is incredible. The staff have to be able to transmit it and when the players buy into that, you can be strong.
“I want to do things my way by convincing them it is the right way for everybody to live better.
“Everybody has to be responsible and I do not want them hiding, I want people who deliver passion and energy.
“Anyone who does not buy into this, has a negative effect, is not good enough for this environment and culture.”
The 37-year-old won the FA Cup twice in a five-year playing career with Arsenal, then joined City to work with Guardiola after retiring in 2016.
He revealed he came very close to taking the Arsenal job following Wenger’s departure in 2018, but conceded it was not the right time for him then, whereas now he has the knowledge to make a success of a difficult situation.
Given the huge problems lurking in Arsenal’s unbalanced and inconsistent squad, many fans wanted a more experienced boss to replace Emery.
Arteta is adamant he won’t be fazed by his first managerial role, saying: “I will give every drop of blood for this football club to make it better.
“I feel back home. I am extremely happy and proud to have been given the honour of being manager of this football club,” he said.
“I have prepared for the challenge and am ready. If I didn’t feel that, I would not be siting in this chair.”
Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League since 2004 and appear light years behind champions City and current leaders Liverpool.
One of the main issues facing Arteta is how to deal with German midfielder Mesut Ozil, who has endured testing times of late with Arsenal and is the subject of speculation over a January move.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal’s leading scorer, is also said to be unsettled by the team’s struggles and Arteta wants to get to know those two and the rest of the squad as soon as possible.
“I want to understand how they are feeling and what they need,” he said.
“Then I can take the excuses out of them and focus on the things which are relevant on and off the pitch. It is my job to get the best out of him (Ozil).”
Super Eagles Head Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has called up 26 players for the international friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe.
The three-time African champions would take on the Les Aiglons of Mali in France on May 27 before flying to Luxembourg to play the country’s national team on June 1.
Yusuf, who was installed as interim Head Coach by the Nigeria Football Federation last week, picked a relatively young squad that also includes former U-20 and former U-23 players.
All the invitees in the goalkeeper categories are: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa), and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars).
The defenders invited are: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal), Musa Muhammed (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France), Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa SK, Turkey), Leon Balogun (Mainz 05, Germany), Gbenga Arokoyo (Gaziantepspor, Turkey), William Troost Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway), and Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal).
For the midfielders, players called up are: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England), Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium), Raheem Lawal (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), and Etebo Oghenekaro (SC Farense, Portugal).
The players invited in the forward category are: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium), Victor Moses (West Ham United, England), Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England), Aminu Umar (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), Aaron Samuel (CSKA Moscow, Russia), and Brown Ideye (Olympiakos FC, Greece).
Petr Cech says taking a calm assessment of dangerous situations is the key to making important saves.
The experienced goalkeeper has had a big impact at Arsenal since his summer move from London rivals Chelsea.
Cech was particularly pleased with his performance against Liverpool in August, when he made two fine saves to deny Christian Benteke and then Philippe Coutinho.
“[My favourite was] probably the first one against Benteke because Gabriel tried to intercept the ball when he ran across the goal, and until the last fraction of a second I didn’t know whether he was going to touch it or not,” Cech told Arsenal Player.
“I had to wait and I also knew that Benteke was already there. I thought, ‘OK I have to wait to see if he deflects it towards his own goal or whether it will go anywhere else’, and then I knew that I would have to go fast to the other side. I was lucky that I had perfect timing to get there.
“Taking information before the situation happens helps. I knew he was running there so I knew that the moment Gabriel missed the ball I had to get there as fast as possible.
“It’s the awareness that I had two options; to wait and then as soon as the ball went past him, knowing that I had to get there. I was ready for that so as soon as I saw that he would not touch the ball I had already gone.
“Maybe it’s a bit of experience, but I would say it’s taking the information prior to the situation. That was the key in this moment.”
Mesut Ozil is relishing playing under Arsène Wenger because the manager knows “how he ticks”.
The German playmaker recently celebrated two years at Arsenal, having helped the team to win and then retain the FA Cup in that time.
Ozil is happy in north London and says his good relationship with Wenger is a major reason for that.
“He knows exactly how I tick and I know exactly what he thinks of me,” he told Arsenal Player. “I just want to help the team as much as possible on the pitch – that’s my target.
“Of course sometimes things work better than at other times, that’s football, but the manager believes in me and that means a lot to me.
“He has experience and in past years you’ve seen him develop some top players. I get on really well with him and he gives me his trust. I’m thankful to him for that and to be praised by a coach like him means a lot.
“I thank him for that through good performances on the pitch.”
Ozil says Wenger’s influence was a key factor in him moving to the club from Real Madrid in 2013.
“Before I joined, I knew that Arsenal were always a technically-strong team,” he added.
“That’s also why I decided to join this club, because I know exactly what the manager wants from the team.
“Our game centres around playing good, technical football and that’s good. It’s thanks to the manager because he’s worked on that for years and has formulated a technically-gifted team that can dominate any opposition.
“That’s why we’re really pleased to have a manager like him.”
Petr Cech believes that Arsenal’s “extraordinary” team spirit will drive them on to further success in the coming season.
The Czech Republic international joined the club in June and has been delighted with the reception he has received from his new team-mates.
Cech is confident that the camaraderie he experienced on tour with the club in Singapore can help the Gunners mount a sustained title challenge this term.
“What I’ve found is a group of players who work very hard and who are focused on what they are doing on the pitch to get ready,” the goalkeeper said.
“I found that the team spirit is extraordinary in the way that everybody pulls in the same direction. This is why I believe that we can have a successful season.
“We need to have that connection between players to reach the same targets. I’ve only been here a few days but I can feel that the team is together.
“We have a good balance in the team. We have players with a lot of experience and we have young players who want to prove their value by being a part of the first-team squad and playing as much as possible.
“There are hungry players, there are experienced players and in terms of the age category we have a good balance. We hope to use that to our advantage.”
Arsenal Captain, Per Mertesacker, says the squad is approaching Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading with vivid memories of last year’s tough semifinal against Wigan Athletic.
Mertesacker said that the Gunners have learnt lessons from their exit from the UEFA Champions League and cannot afford to make mistakes
The German defender believes the game will be tough but expects his team to win the encounter.
“It is going to be their biggest game of the season so to mentally prepare that is going to be difficult, not just to match their physicality and mental strength but to do more, to be on the ball from the start,” Mertesacker said.
“[We need] to show them respect but no fear for the pressure. The winning streak helps us a bit but this competition is completely different.
“It is the best competition I have ever played in because so many big teams struggle. But I don’t want to struggle.
“I want to repeat the success. That is my real target so let’s make sure that we are on the same level and do more than our opponent.
“The mental side of that [Wigan] game was really tough and we need to repeat that to show that we’re good enough and mentally good enough to repeat that.
“On the football side we’re good enough but sometimes you need to put in some different qualities nobody expects from you.
“We had some different games when you think of Manchester City away – nobody expected us to play like that, focusing on our own defence and then getting them on the break. That was something new for us as a team.
“We need a special performance on Saturday as well to release that pressure.”
The Gunners have won 16 of their past 18 matches and are heavy favourites to progress against Championship side Reading.
However, Francis Coquelin – who played against the Royals earlier this season while on loan at Charlton – says they will have to make a fast start to the match.
“You know the FA Cup, you don’t know what to expect – any team is ready for it and it is always a tough game at any stage,” he told Arsenal Player.
“A semi-final at Wembley will be even tougher. We need to be ready and start on the front foot. Hopefully we can do that and win the game.
“I remember a tough game [against them for Charlton]. We won 1-0, but to be honest I don’t think we really deserved it.
“They put a lot of pressure on us, they have Pogrebnyak up front who is a big threat, and on the wings they have great players as well. We know it will be a tough game, it is a semi-final and the league you play in doesn’t matter.
“Whether you are in the Championship or the Premier League, in a game like this the team who puts the most pressure on and creates the most chances will win. If everyone is focused, we know we can get a good result.”