Arsenal complain and ask for key player to be given more protection | Football

Arsenal feel Bukayo Saka is not being adequately protected by Premier League referees (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal have launched an official complaint to PGMOL amid concerns star player Bukayo Saka is not being adequately protected by referees.

The England international is currently the third most fouled player in the Premier League this season, but Gunners chiefs feel opposition defenders are not being punished severely enough.

Arsenal believe stronger deterrents should be in place to prevent Saka from being targeted and singled out for particularly rough treatment.

Mikel Arteta’s fears have been exacerbated by the calf injury the 22-year-old has been nursing over the last couple of months.

Saka has played through the pain barrier in the defeats against West Ham and Fulham that have derailed his side’s title bid, but a 13-day break that follow’s this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Liverpool should provide the England international with a much-needed opportunity to rest and recuperate.

Arsenal’s Saka-related concerns have been long-standing, with Arteta warning as far back as last February that the Hale End Academy graduate would need to learnhow to protect himself amid increasing attention from opponents.

The Spaniard said at the time: ‘He needs to learn when to take certain balls, what to do with that ball, how to use his body, when to jump.

Bukayo Saka has been nursing an Achilles injury in recent weeks

Bukayo Saka has been nursing an Achilles injury in recent weeks (Picture: Getty)

‘There are a lot of things we can train but obviously it is very difficult to understand what the opponent is going to do…

‘Wingers and talented players get kicked and fouled and get the demand to win games and that is the chance he has, that is his role in the team.’

Arsenal will hope to recover and rebuild some momentum following their recent setbacks when what will be an under-strength Liverpool travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Reds will be without Mohamed Salah, who has joined up with the Egypt squad ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, but regardless of his absence, Arsenal will need to improve on what Arteta described as the worst performance of the season at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Eve.

He said: ‘Painful, that’s how I’d sum it up. We had the opportunity to be top of the table after 20 games with the consistency that we’ve shown, and we haven’t managed to perform well enough to earn the right to win the game.

‘Three days ago we lost a game that we fully deserved to win, but today was a very different story.

We weren’t good enough, we simply weren’t good enough in ball possession – we gave so many balls away, we didn’t have enough rhythm, enough purpose, enough threat, and defensively we were second best.

‘We couldn’t control them directly, it was so easy for them to win that first or second ball and have the opportunity to run; we conceded two exact goals like we did against West Ham, and if you do that in this league, it becomes really difficult to win.’


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