Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Wenger warns on VAR as Benitez basks in the glory of Newcastle's safety

Newcastle United 2-1 Arsenal

By Damian Spellman

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has bemoaned the Premier League's decision not to implement VAR next season and warned it could cost them a generation of fans.

The Gunners boss spoke out after seeing his side lose 2-1 at Newcastle, during which Magpies midfielder Kenedy might have been fortunate to escape any more punishment than a free-kick for a challenge on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick saw a shot hit Jamaal Lascelles' hand.

Wenger said: "Unfortunately the Premier League has again decided not to go for VAR and personally I believe that is a very, very bad decision."

Asked if he wanted to see VAR used for the 2018-19 campaign, he added: "Yes, because the Premier League has been created by people who had a progressive mind and wanted to be in front of the rest in Europe. It worked.

"Overall, I believe that with that decision, we are behind the rest in the world and that every big game this season has been decided by mistakes that could have been avoided with VAR, especially in the Champions League with Manchester City and Liverpool.

"The young generation is used to (VAR) and worldwide, they might move away from us because they see that in other countries they do it."

Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, admitted he could not have dreamt Newcastle would smash through the Premier League's 40-point barrier with five games to spare.

"We were not expecting to be in the top 10, but at the same time I said we were dreaming, but we were awake and thinking that we could do it," said the Spaniard, who turns 58 today.

"If you see the way that the players were working for every single ball - and the fans and all the staff - everybody was pushing in the same direction and that is the key when you want to succeed in something."

A first victory in 12 against Arsenal, who had won the last 10 meetings, and a first home success over the Gunners since December 2005, was secured by Matt Ritchie's 68th-minute strike, although it came courtesy of a concerted fightback.

Alexandre Lacazette had fired the visitors, who have not collected a single point on the road since the turn of the year, into a richly deserved 14th-minute lead, only for Ayoze Perez to restore parity with his third goal in as many games 15 minutes later, if distinctly against the run of play.

The win effectively guaranteed Newcastle's top-flight status and - asked where that ranked in his career - Benitez said with a smile: "You want me to say that it's like the Champions League (with Liverpool) in 2005!

"It's a great achievement.

"It's a great achievement for everyone, not just for me - for everyone."

NEWCASTLE: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lejeune, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy, 85 mins), Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez, (Joselu, 79 mins), Gayle (Slimani, 63 mins). Unused subs: Darlow, Clark, Hayden, Manquillo

Arsenal: Cech, Chambers (Maitland-Niles, 78 mins), Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi (Nketiah, 86 mins), Willock 5 (Welbeck, 68 mins), Aubameyang, Lacazette. Unused subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Kolasinac, Nelson

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Man of the match: Jonjo Shelvey

Match rating: 7/10

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