Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock may have played crucial role in Mikel Arteta being cleared of charges

Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock may have played an important role after an independent regulatory commission found the charge against Mikel Arteta for an alleged breach of FA rules to be not proven.

Arteta was charged following various comments in media interviews after Arsenal’s Premier League clash against Newcastle on November 4th.

The Gunners fell to a first Premier League defeat of the season at St James’ Park after Anthony Gordon’s game-winning goal in the 64th minute was given.

VAR checked three separate incidents, including the ball potentially going out of play in the build-up, a foul on Gabriel and a potential offside call in the melee that led to Gordon’s goal.

It was eventually deemed there was no clear angle to show whether or not the ball went out before Joe Willock’s cross.

After the full-time whistle, a furious Arteta gave his thoughts on the incident, saying it was “an absolute disgrace” that the goal was allowed.

And days later, it was alleged that his comments constituted misconduct in that they were insulting towards match officials and/or detrimental to the game and/or brought the game into disrepute.

Over a month later and a regulatory commission made their decision following a hearing and the full written reasons were publishedin a 37-page report.

Here, in section seven of the document, it is stated that Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock had expressed the view that the ball had gone out of play before he crossed it into the penalty area.

Arsenal academy product Willock, of course, was the player involved in keeping the ball in play before Gordon gave Newcastle the lead.

Image credit: Sky Sports

Here is the section in full:

7) MA [Mikel Arteta] remained in that emotional state following the Match; indeed, his frustration at Arsenal having lost the Match (and having lost it in what he considered to be highly controversial circumstances) was heightened when, immediately following the Match:

a) review of video footage reinforced his belief that that the Goal should not have been allowed to stand in light of either or both of the First and Second Incidents;

b) he was told by certain Arsenal players that Willock (a former Arsenal player) had expressed the view that the ball had gone out of play before he crossed into the penalty area. Those matters increased what MA described as his ‘sense of injustice and frustration’ that the Goal had been allowed to stand.”

A day after last month’s controversial incident, Arsenal backed Arteta’s comments in a strongly-worded statement on theclub’s official website.

It read: “Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors on Saturday evening.

“We’d also like to acknowledge the huge effort and performance from our players and travelling supporters at St James’ Park.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world with the best players, coaches and supporters, all of whom deserve better. PGMOL urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.

“We support the ongoing efforts of Chief Refereeing Officer, Howard Webb and would welcome working together to achieve the world-class officiating standards our league demands.”

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