Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has claimed that refereeing has improved in the Premier League since his infamous postgame rant back in November. The Gunners suffered their first defeat of the season against Newcastle at the time in controversial fashion. Both the match official and VAR allowed a late goal by the Magpies despite multiple apparent issues with the score.

Following the match, Arteta criticized the decision and labeled the league’s officiating as “embarrassing” and a “disgrace” during the rant. The Football Association charged the Spaniard for the comments. However, Arteta avoided any punishment.

Manager says statistics show officiating has improved

Arsenal will now look to get some revenge on the Magpies ahead of their rematch on Saturday. With the previous fixture fresh on the mind, reporters asked Arteta if VAR in the Premier League has improved recently.

“That’s what we all wanted, that at the end the decisions are better,” stated Arteta. “The last stats that came across showed that it was a significant improvement, and a lot of decisions were getting right, so hopefully that’s the case and we continue to do that.”

The statistics that Arteta is referring to are regarding a recent claim by a key figure in the Premier League. Tony Scholes, the division’s Chief Football Officer, proclaimed that 96% of refereeing decisions this season have been correct.

This massive approval rating for refereeing in the league came directly from an independent panel. Members of the panel give their thoughts on key in-game decisions to both the league and the Professional Match Game Officials Limited (PGMOL).

According to this panel, there have been just 20 total VAR errors during the current campaign. Nevertheless, 85% of these apparent mistakes occurred when VAR officials failed to intervene in an original refereeing error.

Coaches should critique on-field decisions

Arteta discussed whether his rant directly helped the conversation surrounding VAR’s effectiveness. “I don’t know, I talked the way I felt, and I was very straight,” admitted the Arsenal manager. “I did it in a way that was pretty strong but within the law, because I didn’t get charged for that, so that tells the story.”

Although Arteta faced heat from Premier League officials, coaches and players should be allowed to freely give their opinions regarding the game. This is, of course, assuming that they do not put referees in any real danger. The Arsenal manager’s previous comments did not overstep any boundaries in this department.

Putting a microphone in front of coaches or players directly after a heated match can also be a sticky situation. Arteta would have had the same opinion regardless of the postgame interview. However, the Spaniard would have most likely voiced his concerns regarding refereeing the Premier League differently.

It is certainly debatable if Arteta’s comments directly positively affected the league’s use of VAR. Nevertheless, criticism can help bring change in some cases. For instance, referees tweaked their VAR communications following the fiasco involving Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season.