Gunners’ Grievance with PGMOL
Arsenal has officially raised concerns with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) regarding what they perceive as the persistent rough treatment of star player Bukayo Saka by opposing Premier League teams. The club believes that the fouls against the England winger are not being adequately penalized by referees, with many culprits avoiding yellow cards.
Regular Dialogue Reveals Accumulated Incidents
The issue was highlighted during routine discussions with the Premier League’s refereeing body, a common practice among top-flight clubs. Arsenal presented evidence of multiple incidents to reinforce their stance, hoping for more stringent enforcement of the rules to protect players.
Saka’s Fouling Stats and Injury Concerns
Saka, aged 22, was the third-most fouled player in the Premier League in 2023, suffering 87 fouls. This statistic places him just behind Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew and Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes. The club’s concerns are amplified by Saka’s ongoing struggle with an Achilles injury, which has notably affected his performance and contributed to a dip in form.
Impact on Saka’s Performance and England’s Euro Hopes
The winger’s injury woes and the physicality he faces on the pitch have seen his goal tally decline, with only one goal in his last six league matches. This issue not only affects Arsenal but also England, as national team manager Gareth Southgate counts on Saka being in peak condition for the upcoming Euros in Germany.
Arteta’s Advice and Touchline Antics
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has publicly advised Saka on how to handle aggressive defending, emphasizing the need for the player to adapt and protect himself during games. Arteta’s own frustration boiled over in a recent match against Brighton, where he received a yellow card for his animated protests against the treatment of Saka on the field.
Previous Run-ins with FA Over Officiating
The complaint to PGMOL is not Arteta’s first expression of dissatisfaction with officiating this season. He previously avoided an FA charge despite harshly criticizing VAR officials after a contentious defeat at Newcastle. Arsenal’s stance is clear: they demand fair play and protection for their players as they navigate the competitive landscape of the Premier League.
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