After the 1-0 win over Aston Villa, much was said about Bukayo Saka’s post-game comments in which explained a conversation he’d had with referee Andy Madley following a challenge from Tyrone Mings which left him writhing in pain.
The 20 year old explained, “I wasn’t complaining but I wanted to let him know that that’s my game, I’m going to run at players and sometimes I need more protection when players are purposefully trying to kick me.
“That’s all I was letting him know.”
It prompted a response from Steven Gerrard which was so antiquated it would have its own pen at Jurassic Park, as the Villa boss said, “I’m sitting here now with screws in my hips, I’ve had about 16 operations, I’m struggling to go to the gym at the moment.
“That’s all on the back of earning a living in English football. He’ll learn and he’ll learn quick.”
The topic resurfaced at Arteta’s press conference on Thursday, and while the Arsenal boss backed his player, he refused to get into a war of words, insisting that it’s up the officials to protect players via their refereeing.
“I think Bukayo said he was not going to complain,” said Arteta, “but he wanted some consistency in the refereeing.
“The only person who can protect the players is the referee because he guides the level of the game and the level of the contact and physicality that is allowed or not allowed in a football match.
“I think we have to protect our best players and that’s in the hands of the referee, that’s all.”
Arteta was confident that Saka would be available for the trip to Crystal Palace, saying the player was ‘feeling good’ after his bout of Covid-19.
In the game at home earlier in the season, the winger was booted by James McArthur, who only received a yellow card. Let’s hope there’s nothing like that at Selhurst Park on Monday.