Graeme Souness slams Arsenal and calls out Mikel Arteta’s side for cheating | Football

Mikel Arteta’s side have been prolific from set-pieces this season (Picture: Getty)

Graeme Souness has launched a scathing attack on set-piece kings Arsenal and accused the Premier League leaders of cheating.

The Gunners have scored 16 goals from corners and free-kicks this season, with specialist coach Nicolas Jover playing a key role in their improvement in that department.

Arsenal scored twice from corners in last weekend’s vital 3-2 north London derby victory over Tottenham, after which the antics of defender Ben White came under the microscope.

The Arsenal defender was critcised for trying to disturb Spurs goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario by attempting to take his glove off.

White has taken on the role of Arsenal’s agitator in chief at corners this season and was involved in an incident that drove Marc Cucurella to distraction during the recent 5-0 thrashing of Chelsea.

Souncess, however, believes it won’t be long before Arsenal’s tactics are rumbled by their opponents and called for match officials to punish their ‘dark arts’.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘I’ve heard a lot of talk about the ‘genius’ of Arsenal’s so-called set-piece ‘guru’ and the incredible work he’s played in the team’s push for the title.

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Arsenal star Ben White clashes with Vicario

Ben White attempted to loosen Vicario’s gloves just moments before Hojbjerg’s own goal (Picture: SuperSport)

‘Well, forgive me for bursting the bubble here, but amid all the excitement about the goals Tottenham conceded from corners last week, something very significant was somehow missed. Two of those goals should not have counted.

‘We are witnessing a stealthy, very deliberate, strategy from Arsenal – and Ben White in particular – to obstruct goalkeepers in a way which will avoid detection by the referees.”

Souness added: ‘Might I suggest the referees consult their own little FA rule books for a definition of that term?

‘Law 12 states, in black and white, that obstruction is ‘moving into the opponent’s path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction when the ball is not within playing distance of either player.’

‘Set-piece genius’? Call me old-fashioned but what we’re seeing here is cheating. This blocking by players from set-pieces is more prevalent than ever before, which presents a challenge for referees. But Arsenal do this every game and it’s always by White, so the penny should have dropped long ago.

‘Arsenal have been using this pattern of offending ever since the set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover, joined Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.

‘That was two seasons ago. Don’t even get me started on the fact that we also have the VAR officials, sitting in their warm booth, equipped with the camera capacity that ought to be pulling Arsenal up on this every time.’

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