Mikel Arteta says he will fully back his players’ accounts of the altercation that clouded the latter stages of Arsenal’s win against Liverpool on Sunday.
The Football Association has been reviewing the heated dispute that broke out during added time, with Gabriel Magalhães and Jordan Henderson at its centre.
The referee, Michael Oliver, ran to the touchline to speak with both Arteta and Jürgen Klopp at the time; he took further observations from the players involved afterwards and the FA is believed to be reviewing his report.
When asked if he would support the version given from Arsenal’s side Arteta said “100%”, although he was reluctant to elaborate. “It’s something I don’t want to touch,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether the FA opts to launch a full-scale investigation into the incident. “It’s something that I don’t decide,” Arteta said when asked if he expected a drawn‑out process. “I think timings are really difficult to predict. The FA is in charge of the situation and we’ll have to wait and see.”
In the meantime Arteta will oversee his side’s attempt to secure a third successive Europa League group A win on Thursday against Bodø/Glimt, who were beaten 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium last week.
The match will be played on an artificial surface in Bodø, which lies inside the Arctic Circle, where Roma were humbled twice last season in the Conference League. José Mourinho’s side lost 6-1 in the group stage and 2-1 in the quarter-final first leg; their defender Gianluca Mancini sustained a knee injury during the latter and Mourinho said it was “something caused by playing on a plastic turf”.
Arsenal were greeted enthusiastically upon arrival at Aspmyra Stadion, which will be full to its 8,270 capacity, for their pre-match obligations and are keen not to turn the pitch into an issue. “The biggest mistake we can make is to talk too much about the pitch, the weather or whatever,” said Martin Ødegaard, who returns to his home country but is unlikely to start the game. “It’s a bit different and we have to adjust a little bit, but it’s still football, still the same rules.
Ødegaard, who said he is playing the best football of his career for the Premier League leaders, made the journey from London on Wednesday but the captain was not joined by Gabriel Jesus. The in-form striker is being rested and his absence is not related to a head injury he sustained against Liverpool in a collision with Kostas Tsimikas. Oleksandr Zinchenko, who missed the Liverpool game with a muscle injury, has also stayed at home.”