Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has scrutinised Mikel Arteta’s role in Arsenal’s third goal against Watford on Sunday, claiming the fourth official could have done more to prevent the Spaniard’s involvement.
The Gunners‘ manager stepped outside his technical area to receive the ball on the touchline, quickly passing it to Bukayo Saka for a quick throw-in.
The England international did just that, sparking a counterattack that found its way to Gabriel Martinelli, who blasted his shot past a helpless Ben Foster in the Hornets’ net.
While at the time it looked like a two-goal cushion for a lead that could have stretched further in the game, the finish proved vital as the home side scored late to turn up the pressure.
Goals from Martin Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli wrapped up all three points in a devastating attacking display from the visitors, though an overhead kick from Cucho Hernandez and a goal from former Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko gave the game a tense finish.
Arteta refused to take credit for the part he played in the goal, though he claimed that it is good when everyone can help the team.
After the game, he said: “If it helped the team a little bit to get what we wanted, that’s exactly what we need. Everybody can contribute somehow and I had the opportunity to do that, so it’s good.”
The win meant that the Gunners leapfrogged Manchester United into fourth, putting them firmly in the driving seat for the Champions League spot with games in hand still to play.
However, despite their performance and the victory, former referee Gallagher has brought light to Arteta’s sideline antics and has suggested that the goal could have been prevented by the officials.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, he said: “The fourth official is the sole judge of the technical area, he’s meant to monitor the manager inside, he’s meant to stop him going outside and encroaching onto the pitch.
“He’s allowed him to go out, whether he’s been too slow to go out and stop him I don’t know.
“He hasn’t really committed an offence because he’s become almost a ball-boy hasn’t he, he’s retrieved the ball.
“It’s come to him, he’s thrown it back, you wouldn’t expect him to let the ball go past him, you’d have moaned even more then.
“But we talk about this because it actually resulted in a goal, but that’s all he’s done, he’s guilty of coming out his technical area.”
For Arteta, he will be seeking any advantage possible to help his side get over the line come the end of the season and seeing as he didn’t break any rules, the Spaniard may lose little sleep over the fact that fourth official Simon Hooper could have stopped him if he wished.
Rather, attention will now shift towards Leicester City up next, with the clash in the Premier League on Sunday providing the chance to extend a great run of form the side are on.