Mikel Arteta and Eddie Howe squared off in a furious touchline confrontation during the closing stages of Tuesday’s goalless draw between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners missed a golden opportunity to go 10 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, with Newcastle holding firm to keep the scores level and ensure the spoils were shared in north London after the full-time whistle.
Arsenal were denied a last-gasp penalty appeal when the ball appeared to strike the arm of Jacob Murphy with just seconds of stoppage time remaining, with a brief VAR check seeing referee Andy Madley stick with his original decision. Arteta launched into a typically animated tirade on the touchline in response to Madley’s verdict, sprinting out of his technical area and flailing his arms around in protest at his side not being awarded a late spot-kick.
The Spaniard then raced towards the fourth official to make his feelings clear in a move which appeared to irk Howe, who quickly ventured over to have a pop at his opposite number. Both managers went on to exchange words in a furious manner and needed to be kept apart at the edge of the pitch before the match finally resumed, with the full-time whistle blowing to put an end to proceedings shortly afterwards.
Howe insisted in his post-match interview that there were no hard feelings between himself and Arteta, with tensions simply boiling over at a crucial point in the match in the heat of the moment. He told Sky Sports: “At that stage of the game you’re thinking: ‘Please, no’. The lads have given so much to the game.
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“It would have been a travesty for us. I didn’t think it was a penalty just because of the proximity but you never know, but I’m delighted. With me and Mikel, it’s all fine.
“I think it was a very, very good defensive display. The mentality from the group, I think you saw real teamwork today. We weren’t defending in ones, it was twos and threes, very much a collective effort all around the pitch. I think Arsenal are very, very good, they pose you different problems and really stretch you, and we knew defensively we needed to be rock-solid.”
Arteta, meanwhile, was visibly seething as he offered his assessment of the referee’s performance but gave plenty of credit to his players for avoiding defeat in what could have been a potential banana skin in their surprise Premier League title bid.
“We had so many chances to finish those situations better and then we had two scandalous penalties [denied],” said the Arsenal boss. “It’s not about which [claim] is stronger, they are two penalties, it’s that simple. I’m talking about what I’ve seen now and it’s two scandalous penalties.
“I don’t know [why they weren’t given by VAR]. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done in a team that plays the way they did today again. I think we generated a lot of superiority in the game but we lacked an extra touch, an extra pass or an extra movement.”
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