Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta gives verdict on Prem refs after VAR rant | Football | Sport

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He had labelled the decision to allow Anthony Gordon’s goal to stand in a 1-0 loss at St James’ Park as “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”. Arteta was later charged by the FA for breaking Rule E3.1 which could have resulted in a ban but he was cleared in December.

Arsenal are now preparing to host Newcastle on Saturday, aiming to keep up their momentum in the Premier League title race, and recover from their 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat in Porto on Wednesday. When asked if he had noticed an improvement in officiating and VAR since his post-match outburst which was supported by an official statement from the club Arteta replied: “Well that is what we all wanted.

“That at the end the decisions are better and I think the last stats that came across show that there was a significant improvement and a lot of the decisions they were getting right, so hopefully that is the case and we continue to do that.

“I talked the way I felt. I was very straight and I did it in a way that was pretty strong but within the law because I didn’t get charged for it and I think that tells the story.” After impressive away wins at West Ham and Burnley, Arsenal suffered defeat in Portugal on Wednesday night to leave their Champions League progression in the balance.

Porto did a great job of slowing the game down at the Estadio do Dragao, with 36 fouls awarded a Champions League record this season before Galeno hit a last-gasp winner. Speaking after the game, Declan Rice said that Arsenal need to improve their “savviness” while Arteta admits his players need to develop their level of streetwise.

“Yes, we certainly can develop a lot of things and those experiences are really relevant to judge whether we were or we weren’t,” he replied when asked if the team needed to improve their dark arts. “I believed that they did a lot of things right. But managing games and things like that, we can still improve.

“But in a year’s time for sure we can still improve and we can improve in our build-up phase and we can improve in our restarts. We can improve in many areas. I don’t know if it is about (being) a bad guy but you have to be tricky, you have to be smart, you have to be streetwise and you have to try to take advantage in every situation. They know that.

“That’s a thing that has to be developed you don’t have it, that’s for sure. The best teams, the best players, they have that.” Arteta revealed that Thomas Partey could return on Saturday evening, with a number of other recent injury absentees pushing to be in contention.

Partey has been off the pitch since he got a thigh injury in October, but there’s good news because Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko might play again soon. Sadly, Takehiro Tomiyasu is still not ready.

Arteta is also happy to say that Jurrien Timber, who joined the team in the summer and hurt his knee badly in his first Premier League game in August, is getting better.

When asked if Timber could play this season, Arteta said: “I really hope so. He’s doing really well. He’s been with some players on the pitch. He’s going to start to do some bits with us on the pitch in the next week or so.

“Then we’ll have to see how he’s doing, his confidence level, his fitness level. Hopefully the answer will be yes.”

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