Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta called the video assistant referee’s decision to allow Newcastle’s goal in their 1-0 win “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”.
Anthony Gordon bundled in the only goal with three VAR checks – to see if the ball went out of play, if there was a foul and if there was an offside – all coming back in Newcastle’s favour.
The result ended Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League start .
“I have to be here now to say it is not acceptable,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We didn’t deserve to lose the match. We lose the match because of the clear and obvious decisions. It’s embarrassing. A disgrace. That’s what it is – a disgrace.
“You cannot imagine the amount of messages I got saying this cannot continue. I am wasting my time. We are wasting our time. I don’t want to be in the hands of people.”
The Spaniard continued to BBC Sport: “It’s embarrassing what happened – how this goal stands, in the Premier League – this league we say is the best in the world. I’ve been 20 years in this country and now I feel ashamed. It’s a disgrace and there’s too much at stake here. We are trying to do incredible things and be at the highest level each week.
“The outcome is nowhere near the level this league needs to have. It’s not good enough. I feel embarrassed to be part of this.”
In his post-match media conference, Arteta’s fury continued and he added he felt “sick”.
“For many reasons it’s not a goal,” he said.
On the fact there were three checks, he said: “That makes it worse – you need to see one image to say ‘OK, finished’. Then if in doubt you check the second one and then they’re saying this is a goal. OK then.”
When asked which decision he thought was wrong, he said: “This is really the question. It’s not a goal – it’s simple. For a goal to be allowed there are certain things prior to that that are not allowed in football – here and in China, in Japan, in Italy, in Portugal, and Spain. That’s what happens.”
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe, unsurprisingly, felt differently.
“It looked a good goal to me,” he said. “We’re in the dark, we’re stood by the side of the pitch seeing VAR on the screen but with no pictures. With every VAR check that was going on we thought one would cost us in the end.”
It came at the end of a day when another Premier League manager, Wolves boss Gary O’Neil, claimed “we’re in a crazy place” with referees after Sheffield United were given a last-minute penalty which they scored to beat his team 2-1.
Joe Willock tried to keep a wayward shot from Jacob Murphy in play near the corner flag before steadying himself and swinging in a cross. Joelinton beat Gabriel in the air before knocking the ball down into the path of Gordon.
With goalkeeper David Raya off his line, Gordon smashed into the net from close range.
Referee Stuart Attwell awarded the goal – and then the VAR checks began. Just over four minutes of them.
Former Newcastle winger Chris Waddle, watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, initially said “there’s no way that this is a goal”.
“I think there will be a VAR check on this because a lot of things happened throughout that move,” he said. “There were pushes, the ball looked like it may have gone out of play from Murphy’s shot, then the challenge into the back of Gabriel from Joelinton almost on the goalline.”
So first there was a check to see if Willock had kept the ball in play. “That’s tight. The curve of the ball, how can you even check that? I’m not sure,” said pundit Gary Neville on Sky Sports. Andrew Madley, the VAR, decided there was no conclusive evidence that the ball was out of play. That check lasted 33 seconds.
Then a check to see if Joelinton had fouled his fellow Brazilian Gabriel to reach the ball first. This one lasted 50 seconds and Madley deemed there was not sufficient contact to award a foul.
And then the final question. Was Gordon offside when Joelinton played the ball? Exactly 90 seconds later the decision was made – there was no conclusive evidence of offside. They could not find an available camera angle for the VAR to draw the line.
So the goal stood. Three tight decisions, but the officials could not be sure any of them were offences.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown felt it was a foul on Gabriel – but thought Arteta should have waited until he calmed down to speak to the media.
“He was very emotional. He might have been better placed taking a bit longer before his interviews,” Keown said on BBC Match of the Day. “There were some decisions I was getting angry with myself.
“I was screaming that’s a foul on Gabriel. That’s two hands. Anywhere else on the pitch that’s a foul. Two hands on his back, off the ground. Gabriel is stooping because he can’t get off the ground. There might have been handball. Virtually everything is wrong with that goal.”
Former Magpies defender Steve Watson, watching the game for BBC Radio Newcastle, felt the first incident was the main risk.
“Once the ball was deemed to be in play that was the end of it for me,” he said. “I wasn’t really that worried about it. When it takes that long you always try to second guess things.
“I didn’t see anything regarding the foul and it certainly wasn’t offside. They came to the right decision eventually, but they put you through the mill by doing it.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, on Sky, said: “The big thing is the ball going out. I don’t think it is a foul. The problem is the camera angle we have is not conclusive so I am glad it has been given.
“People will be criticising VAR. Three looks at different things – how did they get to a goal? People have been very critical of VAR saying it is looking for ways to disallow goals, but you can’t have the argument both ways. If there is not enough evidence to disallow a goal then that should be given a goal.”