Owen labels Arteta 'embarrassing' for criticism of referees

Michael Owen labels Mikel Arteta ’embarrassing’ and ‘disgraceful’ for criticising refereeing standards after his side’s 1-0 defeat by Newcastle – and slams ‘classless’ Arsenal for releasing a statement in support of their manager

  • Michael Owen has criticised Mikel Arteta for his comments on English refereeing
  • The Arsenal boss was furious about decisions in his side’s defeat to Newcastle
  • Big debates on Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal on It’s All Kicking Off podcast

Michael Owen has hit out at Mikel Arteta following the Arsenal manager’s scathing criticism of refereeing standards in the Premier League. 

Arteta was furious that a number of decisions did not go his side’s way in a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, with Anthony Gordon’s controversial winning goal particularly difficult for him to accept as he labelled the current level of officiating ’embarrassing’ and ‘disgraceful’.

Arsenal went on to release a statement on Sunday in support of Arteta’s comments, doubling down on them by suggesting players, coaches and supporters ‘deserve better’ than the current standard of refereeing.

Former England international Owen took issue with both Arteta and his club, suggesting such criticism of referees ‘damages the game’.

He posted on X (formerly Twitter): ‘The Newcastle v Arsenal game yesterday was a brilliant watch. Two top teams going at it. 

Arteta claimed the decision to award the goal made him ‘feel sick’ in his post match interviews

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‘The only (in his words) ‘embarrassing’ and ‘disgraceful’ thing about it was Arteta’s behaviour. A common occurrence that damages the game more than any incorrect decision. 

‘For his club to now release a statement moaning about the standard of officiating is poor and sadly for a team of Arsenals standing, totally classless.’

Sky pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have both criticised Arsenal for their statement, suggesting it was not the right approach to take. 

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Neville said: ‘Arsenal and Liverpool’s statements are wrong. Do it privately. Managers and players make far more mistakes than refs!’

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Liverpool’s game against Luton, Carragher said: ‘This is not a moment to jump on the bandwagon with VAR and just batter people at Stockley Park and the officials because that’s not right.’

Arsenal’s statement is the second time a Premier League club has felt the need to directly address PGMOL this season.

Last month, Liverpool formally requested the audio between the VAR officials and referee Simon Hooper after their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on September 30.

The Reds had a Luis Diaz goal ruled out for offside, a decision which PGMOL subsequently admitted was incorrect.

Arteta has little sympathy for referee Stuart Attwell and VAR official Andy Madley after the game at St.James’ Park, saying: ‘How the hell did this [Gordon’s] goal stand up? It’s incredible. I feel embarrassed. It’s an absolute disgrace that this was allowed. For many reasons it’s not a goal.

‘It’s so difficult to compete at this level. This is nowhere near the [refereeing] level to describe this as the best league in the world. I feel sick to be part of this.’

Arteta added in his post-match interview with Sky Sports: ‘The question is it’s not a goal, it’s simple. For a goal there are certainly things that are not allowed in football.

‘I have to stand here and explain, we lost three points. There’s too much at stake. It’s embarrassing.

‘It’s incredible how the players competed against this team, it makes me sick. I feel sick to be part of this.’

Officials had to assess three separate incidents before the decision to award Anthony Gordon’s winning goal against Arsenal

Gary Neville questioned Arteta’s comments and Arsenal’s decision to release a statement

The Arsenal statement in support of their head coach said: ‘Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors on Saturday evening.

‘We’d also like to acknowledge the huge effort and performance from our players and travelling supporters at St James’ Park.

‘The Premier League is the best league in the world with the best players, coaches and supporters, all of whom deserve better. PGMOL urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.

‘We support the ongoing efforts of Chief Refereeing Officer, Howard Webb and would welcome working together to achieve the world-class officiating standards our league demands.’


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It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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