Premier League • England

Arsenal pair question referee and VAR amid confusion at ‘tough to take’ City defeat

James Marshment
Albert Stuivenberg, Arsenal's No 2, takes charge on Premier League game v Manchester City

Albert Stuivenberg says Arsenal are “frustrated” at seeing the points slip away as Manchester City came from behind to snatch a controversial 2-1 win at Emirates Stadium.

The Dutchman, taking charge of first-team affairs for the game in the absence of Mikel Arteta, thought his side were on course for a win when going in at half-time 1-0 up. However, the advantage handed to them from Bukayo Saka’s strike was soon wiped out in a crazy second half. Here, we rated and slated the players from an incredible afternoon at Emirates Stadium.

Indeed, City’s game arrived in controversial circumstances with referee Stuart Attwell and VAR at the heart of it. And the Arsenal fans were certainly vocal in making clear their anger at the officials both during and after the game.

Having refused to award Arsenal a penalty in the first half, a VAR review then saw City given one in the second.

And the inconsistencies of the decisions, as well as the red card handed out to Gabriel, were clearly tough to take.

After the match, Stuivenberg told BBC Match of the Day about his anger at the result.

“We are very frustrated with the outcome if you play a game like this against one of the best teams in the world. At the end to have zero points is frustrating because we should have won the game,” he said.

Stuivenberg just wants consistency

On Arsenal not being given a penalty, he was clearly just as annoyed.

“I think it is a penalty but I am looking for consistency. We have VAR in place so why not check yourself as a referee? That did not happen so it is disappointing.

“We did really, really good, how many chances did they really create? Until the end, they have lucky chance when it drops to them. The fans enjoyed our performance today, we had our chances, we had the big one at 1-1 with Gabriel Martinelli. It did not go our way but I’m proud of the performance.”

On Gabriel’s red card, Stuivenberg suggested his side need to be more wise.

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One potentially coming in, three potentially going out.

“It is something we have to learn,” he added. “We have young players in the team and have to control our emotions. I am not sure the first yellow is because of that (scuffing the penalty spot), I cannot ask the question to the referee now. If you are on a yellow you have to be smarter.”

He insists though that Arsenal can take pride in their performance after seeing their five-match winning run coming to an end.

“A lot of positives and we have to build from here, this is the level we have to play,” he said. “Everyday we work hard to create this situation. We want to see a team with belief and can compete with a team like this and can play against a team like this too. We showed all of that today.”

Ramsdale aggrieved at referee decisions

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was also quick to question the key decisions.

“Tough to take but we have to take it, that is the result,” he told BT Sport. “I don’t think for large parts of the game teams have done that to Manchester City. The red card changes the game, we were so close. We go again, we have a big semi-final coming up.

“They are one of, if not the best team in the league. We are a young team and don’t fear anyone.

“Both penalties, I don’t know why the referee is told to see one and not the other. It is there for a reason, go and use it. It is the inconsistency. The whole point is to help the game out, in real time it didn’t look like one and slow it down on a screen and it is given.”

On Gabriel’s red card, he added: “I was so confused! I didn’t see him get the first yellow card. It changes the game, I think it is harsh. For large periods when down to 10 men, we defended well. It was a lucky break for Rodri and he finished it well.”

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