Mikel Arteta responds to Michael Oliver referee appointment after Jose Mourinho dig

Mikel Arteta will face Jose Mourinho for the first time as a manager in Sunday's north London derby
Mikel Arteta will face Jose Mourinho for the first time as a manager in Sunday’s north London derby (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta is confident the referee for Sunday’s north London derby, Michael Oliver, will not be affected by Jose Mourinho’s criticisms of his recent performances as the VAR official during Tottenham’s two most recent matches.

Spurs were on the wrong end of controversial calls against Sheffield United, when Harry Kane’s goal was ruled out for an inadvertent handball by Lucas Moura, and were denied a penalty in Thursday’s stalemate at Bournemouth after Oliver saw no issue with Josh King’s challenge on the England striker.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game at the Vitality Stadium, Mourinho said: ‘I’m not saying that Harry Kane scores 100% of his penalties but I think his penalty efficiency rate is very, very high, so normally at minute five we would be winning 1-0 against a team physiologically in trouble.

‘I think the game would probably be completely different. So like against Sheffield United, the Man of the Match was not one of the players. But against Sheffield I had lots of my hands to blame myself and to blame my players, today I cannot do that.

‘The game has the most important moment, you know when, you know who and I don’t want to say anything more in relation to that because everybody knows and I don’t need to say much more in relation to that. Everybody knows. There is nothing to do in relation to that.’

Asked to clarify who he was referring to, Mourinho continued: ‘The same referee who was the VAR against Sheffield United.’

Arteta, meanwhile, was less than happy with the officiating at the Emirates on Tuesday when Eddie Nketiah was sent-off for a foul on James Justin, while Jamie Vardy avoided any punishment despite kicking out at Shkodran Mustafi and leaving the Arsenal defender with stud marks on his face.

The Spaniard was in a more measured mood, however, at his pre-match press conference and was confident Oliver’s ability to handle Sunday’s match would not be compromised by Mourinho’s comments.

‘I never have any concern about the decision of the referee,’ said Arteta when asked how Oliver might be affected by Mourinho’s pointed jibes. ‘Nowadays, everything’s so professional, dedicated and they’re under so much pressure and criticism.

‘I know they try their best with the decisions that they have to make. They’re getting more and more complicated because of the speed of the game and how quickly they have to react, and the pressure they have with the new VAR system as well. We’re here to support them, we need them, they’re a big part of that.

‘Now we complain that we don’t have the fans and we realise how important they are, maybe one day we won’t have referees and we’re going to say, ‘Wow, they were crucial for this game to work’. So we have to support them.’

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