Chris Sutton believes that it is ‘ridiculous’ that Arsenal made a complaint to PGMOL over the treatment of Bukayo Saka this season. The Gunners called for the Premier League’s refereeing body to protect their pacey winger more after it emerged that he was one of the most fouled players in the top flight.
Arsenal have enjoyed another strong start to the season and, once again, staked their claim as title contenders. The additions of Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and David Raya have ensured that there is no room for complacency in the squad, with further signings this month anticipated despite their limited budget.
The Gunners have won 12 of their opening 20 matches to put themselves in fourth place in the Premier League, just five points behind league leaders Liverpool. With the title race wide open at present, Mikel Arteta’s side are keen to ensure that they are capable of pushing for silverware by keeping their most important stars fit and healthy.
Saka is their biggest concern and it has emerged that Arsenal recently contacted PGMOL to discuss how they believe officials should be intervening sooner to protect the England international. The Gunners are said to have told the officiating body that opponents believe their first challenge on the No. 7 is a free hit which is rarely reprimanded, but they would like that to change and for early challenges to result in bookings which would therefore deter further fouls.
Former Chelsea and Aston Villa star Sutton does not believe that Arsenal have truly helped their academy graduate, and have instead ‘embarrassed’ him. He told the It’s All Kicking Off podcast: “I think Bukayo Saka will be a bit embarrassed about the situation.
“It’s a compliment, isn’t it, that players want to get close to you and kick you? I don’t think Arsenal, I don’t know what they’re thinking of there and where they’re going with that. Ridiculous.”
Arteta has spoken previously about how Saka must expect tough tackles and warned the 22-year-old that he must learn how to deal with the rougher treatment to ensure that he does not pick up an injury as a result. He said: “He needs to learn when to take certain balls, what to do with that ball, how to use his body, when to jump.
“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.”