Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos believes he would not have been sent off in Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Rennes had video assistant referee technology been used.
The Gunners slumped to a 3-1 loss in the first leg of their round of 16 clash, with Sokratis dismissed for two first-half yellow cards.
The visitors had impressed until his 41st-minute dismissal and led through an early Alex Iwobi strike.
But Unai Emery’s side could not deal with Rennes, cheered on by a boisterous record crowd at Roazhon Park, and eventually lost 3-1 as Benjamin Bourigeaud levelled with a stunning strike before a Nacho Monreal own goal and a late Ismaila Sarr header sealed a memorable win for the Ligue 1 outfit.
Less than 24 hours before Arsenal’s defeat, Premier League rivals Manchester United had benefited from the use of VAR as they were awarded an injury-time penalty to leave France with a famous Champions League victory over Paris St Germain.
Sokratis has backed his team-mates to get the job done in the second leg as he misses out through suspension.
We're down to 10 in Rennes...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 7, 2019
Sokratis receives a second yellow for pulling down Sarr
🏆 #UEL 0-1 (41)
But the 30-year-old felt hard done by to have been given his marching orders by referee Ivan Kruzliak, insisting VAR – which will only be used in the final of the Europa League this season – would have saved him.
“Of course we are disappointed because the first half we started to play good, we had control of the game but after the decision of the referee changed the game,” he said.
“It is difficult to play with 10 players. I think the referee gave me two easy yellow cards. Both were too easy.
“The first, I didn’t touch him and the second is too easy, you know? In the end, 3-1, we need to score two goals at home and I think we can do it.
“He (Kruzliak) has to explain to us. For this, sometimes it is better if they put in VAR and this helps the referee a little bit more. The decision was very bad. Both of these two were not a
“Of course, with the VAR there, yes, (I wouldn’t have been sent off). I don’t criticise the referee but maybe if the VAR is coming, it can help. He can make mistakes, like we can.”
United, fresh from that 3-1 victory over PSG which sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men through to the quarter-finals, are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsenal have already lost at home to the Red Devils this season in the FA Cup but, as the battle for a place in the top-four heats up, Sokratis feels the hosts can get the right result this time and is not worried by United’s win in Paris.
Asked if the PSG result will make Sunday a more difficult task, the Greece international replied: “No. We play in our home.
“We know what we can do. We will play with confidence and everything will be good. It is a game that we know is very important for us but we will be ready.
“Of course we watched (the PSG match). Everybody watched. But we will be ready, everybody is thinking about Sunday’s game already and we will give 100 per cent.”