Later News Oct 23

Mikel Arteta and Dean Smith disagree over penalty incident as Arsenal beat Aston Villa 3-1

VAR made up for their error in failing to recommend a sending off for James McArthur’s Kungfu kick on Bukayo Saka last week, by awarding Arsenal a contentious penalty in their 3-1 win against Aston Villa this morning (SGT).


As the saying goes, ‘The VAR taketh away, and the VAR giveth’.


WATCH: Behind the scenes as Arsenal get ready for Villa game


And granted, the only contention about the penalty came from Villa manager Dean Smith, who argued that referee Craig Pawson’s decision to award the spot-kick was too “frivolous”.


The Gunners were 1-0 up – courtesy of Thomas Partey’s first goal for the club – and about to head into the half-time break, when they were awarded a spot-kick after Alexandre Lacazette was deemed by VAR to have been fouled in the area by Matt Targett.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went on to miss the penalty, but then scored on the rebound...


It was a goal that not only gave Arsenal a comfortable 2-0 lead, but sent Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez into a dramatic downward spiral, to the delight of Manchester United fans everywhere.


“I saw it in real-time and my first instinct was it looked a penalty; I must admit that,” said Smith.


“When I see the same thing he (Pawson) sees (on the monitor), to me it is too frivolous, we are looking really closely to see if he touches the ball first, it is what we spoke about in the summer, about those kinds of decisions not going to VAR and staying with the referee.


“My understanding was we were walking off the pitch for half-time and then he gives the penalty after looking at VAR, so I don't think the referee has even thought about it but if it is a goal or he saves it, he should blow for half-time.”


WATCH: Arteta says Lacazette remains important for Arsenal this season


Arteta, however, insisted that the penalty decision was the right call, as he said: “I think it’s a penalty. The timing: you can discuss whether or not the time was right. But if you ask me to have a judgment on the action, for me, it’s a penalty.”


While Dean Smith was left fuming after the game, another Smith was busy celebrating the victory, a goal, and his man of the match award: Emile Smith Rowe.


The 21-year-old played an instrumental role in Arsenal’s success over Villa, and scored the decisive third goal for his side in the 56th minute to put the game beyond any doubt.


Arteta hailed Smith Rowe after the game, and hinted that certain lifestyle changes the England Under-21 international – who during the summer was subject to several bids from Villa that truly defined the meaning of ‘frivolous’ – made had contributed to his recent uptick in form.


“When you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a real important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority and every detail is important and relevant,” said Arteta.


WATCH: Smith Rowe's rise through Arsenal's ranks


“You have to make him aware of that, you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences and he has changed that.


“There is no complaining, he is just looking forwards, he is really determined, he has changed the way he is living as well a little bit and some of the habits that he had and he's been superb.”




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