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Mikel Arteta refuses to be drawn on VAR rulings as Arsenal slump to Villa defeat

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (centre) watches from the stands at Villa Park (Jacob King/PA)
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (centre) watches from the stands at Villa Park (Jacob King/PA)

Mikel Arteta was seemingly aiming to sidestep another Football Association charge as the Arsenal boss refused to be drawn on two contentious calls in their Premier League defeat at Aston Villa.

John McGinn’s seventh-minute strike was enough to seal a 1-0 victory for the hosts, who are now just two points off top spot and have won a club-record 15 consecutive league games.

The last time Villa failed to win at home was a loss to Arsenal in February, but this time it was the home side who secured the three points.

Aston Villa v Arsenal – Premier League – Villa Park
Arsenal’s Kai Havertz saw his late effort ruled out (Jacob King/PA)

Arsenal wasted a number of gilt-edged chances and saw a strong penalty claim turned down for Douglas Luiz’s challenge on Gabriel Jesus, while Kai Havertz thought he had bundled in a last-minute leveller only for it to be ruled out for handball.

On both occasions, the VAR sided with referee Jarred Gillett and Arteta – who was watching from the directors’ box at Villa Park as he served a one-match touchline ban – would not be drawn on the decisions, having already been hit with an FA charge for his stinging post-match criticism of the officiating following a 1-0 loss at Newcastle last month.

Asked about both calls, the Spaniard replied: “Clear and obvious. Clear and obvious.”

Pushed on what he meant, he added, while stressing the two repeated words: “Clear and obvious, that’s what I mean. That’s my opinion, that’s all I can say.”

Arteta was also asked about the decisions during his post-match interview with Sky Sports, saying: “I prefer not to comment…I do (have a) big opinion, yes.”

Any further questions on the matter were shot down but Arteta did go on to say he felt his side had done enough to win the game.

“I’m very disappointed with the result, especially with the way we played,” he said.

“I think we deserved much more than what we got. We were the much better team. I haven’t seen a team do what we did to Villa since we won here in February.

Aston Villa v Arsenal – Premier League – Villa Park
John McGinn (right) scored the only goal of the game (Jacob King/PA)

“It was not enough to win it because we lacked the accuracy in the opponents’ box to put the ball in the back of the net with the amount of situations that we generated.”

For Villa, this was a second big win in the space of three days having already seen off reigning champions Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery stuck with the same starting XI as the Gunners visited Villa Park and his decision ultimately paid off.

“They were excited and I was thinking at the beginning to do some changes to the starting XI because some were tired from Wednesday,” he said.

“It was a big effort, but we were speaking yesterday with the doctors and all of the players wanted to play today, they were all telling us they were perfect.

“During the match I was watching and needed to be clinical with my decision in changing players.

“Clearly I am very proud of our matches we play here. We have won 15 matches, I have never been in this situation.

“We have to enjoy it and still be demanding, we are achieving. The last time we lost here was against Arsenal and today we competed against them. We are increasing our demands and our level, being consistent, responsible and mature.”