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Mikel Arteta repeats 'clear and obvious' when asked about Kai Havertz handball in Arsenal draw at Aston Villa

Aston Villa moved to within two points of the Premier League summit with 1-0 home win over Arsenal; Gunners had late Kai Havertz goal ruled out for handball, as well as a penalty for a challenge on Gabriel Jesus not given; Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on incident: "I prefer not to comment"

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Jamie Redknapp says the decision to disallow Arsenal's late goal was ridiculous as they lost at Aston Villa

Mikel Arteta gave a cryptic response to the two decisions that denied Arsenal a penalty and a late goal in their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, repeating the phrase "clear and obvious" when asked for his views.

In an event-filled second half, referee Jared Gillett and the VAR both chose not to give Arsenal a penalty on 47 minutes when Gabriel Jesus went down under Douglas Luiz's challenge in the box.

Then, in virtually the last kick of the game, Kai Havertz bundled the ball over the line to seemingly make the score 1-1, only for referee Gillett to immediately penalise the Arsenal midfielder for handball. Replays appeared to show the ball grazing Havertz's hand before he poked it into the net.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Arteta simply said: "I prefer not to comment" though did admit the penalty decision was "even clearer" than the Havertz handball. When pushed on his response to the two incidents in his post-match press conference, Arteta simply said: "Clear and obvious. Clear and obvious. That's what I mean.

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Highlights from Aston Villa's match against Arsenal in the Premier League

"That's my opinion. That's all I can say."

Arteta is already in hot water with the FA for his outspoken criticism of the decision to award Anthony Gordon's winner for Newcastle against Arsenal last month.

The Arsenal manager was also serving a touchline ban at Villa Park after picking up his third yellow card of the season away at Luton in midweek.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (centre) watches from the stands during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Picture date: Saturday December 9, 2023.
Image: Arteta looks on in anguish at Villa Park

The incidents in question

Gabriel Jesus appeals for a penalty after going down under Douglas Luiz's challenge
Image: Gabriel Jesus appeals for a penalty after going down under Douglas Luiz's challenge

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Kai Havertz's late equaliser for Arsenal at Aston Villa was disallowed for a marginal handball

Redknapp: Havertz goal ruled out due to 'rubbish rule'

Speaking on Sky Sports about the disallowed Havertz goal, Jamie Redknapp admitted Gillett and the VAR officials - who spent several minutes checking the incident before agreeing with the on-field call - made the correct decision. However, he hit out at the handball rules themselves.

FA rules state "it is an offence if a player scores immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental." But Arsenal's goal would have stood had Eddie Nketiah - stood directly behind Havertz and also primed to tap the ball in the net - put it in instead of Havertz.

Redknapp said: "Unfortunately it's the rule. It's a terrible rule that if the ball touches a player's hand and then a goal occurs after it, it then becomes a handball - which is ridiculous when you think about it.

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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta decided against giving any response on the two big decisions that went against his side in their defeat to Aston Villa

"It's a rubbish rule. How can that be handball? It looks like it could hit Matty Cash, it's just rebounding around.

"Go back to handball, ball to hand. I think that we're getting ourselves in such a mess with these rules all the time.

"How on earth can that be handball? He's not meant to do it. It's a rubbish law.

"It's the rule at the moment, but if we're trying to help football and trying to improve it and make it a better spectacle with more goals, then the powers that be have to look at that and go, 'It's a rubbish rule'.

"It's grazed his arm. He's not meant to do it. If he sticks his arm out and it hits his hand, that would be handball anyway.

"But whoever's decided to come up with that as the law, I think it's ridiculous because it's cost Arsenal a goal."

Pundits: Jesus incident wasn't a penalty

However, Redknapp and Karen Carney had less sympathy for Arteta when it came to the Luiz tackle on Jesus.

Gillett decided not to award Arsenal a penalty after the duo collided and VAR agreed after a short check.

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Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery reflects on their win over Arsenal and discusses whether they can continue challenging at the top of the table

"Arsenal fans will be saying there's contact but when I first saw it, for me it wasn't enough," Carney said on Sky Sports.

"The threshold wasn't high enough to give a penalty.

"He does slightly hook his leg but for me it's not enough, so I don't think it is a penalty."

Redknapp added: "We saw one today with Crystal Palace and Liverpool and people are trying to compare that, but I don't think they're the same.

"I don't think that one is a penalty."

However, speaking on co-commentary duty, Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher felt the penalty should have been given.

"I think this is going to be a penalty," he said, looking at the incident in real-time. "It's almost identical to the Crystal Palace one against Liverpool [on Saturday]."

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