So incensed was Martin Odegaard by the refereeing inconsistency during yesterday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City that Arsenal’s coaching staff had to stop him from confronting fourth official Kevin Friend following his substitution.
Replaced by Rob Holding on 63 minutes – four minutes after Gabriel’s second half red card – the Norway international couldn’t hide his disappointment as emotions boiled over on the pitch, the touchline and in the terraces.
By full time, our summer signing had calmed enough to face the beIN SPORTS cameras and did his best to emphasise the positives on a day when the Gunners push the league leaders to the limit before succumbing to late heartbreak.
“The feeling is of course not good,” said Odegaard. “I think we made a great match. We managed to play our game and put them under pressure, created lots of good situations and scored the first goal.
“I felt that we controlled the match quite well. Then come three situations that go against us. It is of course tough to take. But we made a good effort and did everything we could.
He added: “If you look at the development we’ve had since our first match against them this season, it is great.
“We are very close to being at their level and it showed in many situations today. With eleven players, we controlled the match and led.
“Even with ten players, we defended well and they did not create much before the last chance and goal. We need to take the good things with us and move on.”
Having had his own claim for a penalty dismissed in the first half – an incident that VAR didn’t instruct referee Stuart Atwell to review on the pitchside monitor – Odegaard, like the rest of us, was incensed that Bernardo Silva was awarded a spot-kick following an intervention from Stockley Park.
“It is a very cheap punishment,” said Odegaard. “It is clear from the replay that he falls and then Granit grabs his shirt. But then he is already on his way down. The ref stood right next to him and said that there was no punishment and that he had seen it clearly. It always looks worse on TV. But for me it is very soft. It’s frustrating.”
The Sun reports that Kevin Friend arrived at the Emirates as the designated fourth official but started the game as one of the linesmen after Constantine Hatzidakis dropped out just before kick off.
No fourth official was available for the first 30 minutes of the game before replacement Neil Davies arrived at the Emirates. He then took over running the line from Friend who reverted to his original role as fourth official.