Ex-Premier League referee: Bukayo Saka may receive special treatment after 'horrible' Arsenal reveal
Bukayo Saka may be more protected by referees at Arsenal after Ian Wright called for him to be defended, according to Keith Hackett.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Fifa and Premier League referee suggested Saka has been the victim of the “lighter touch” applied by officials this season.
Wright said on the Wrighty’s House podcast earlier this month (8 November) that the “horrible” treatment of the 21-year-old has left him “worried” while watching Arsenal.
Only one player has received a booking for a foul on the winger this season and he is only fouled 1.5 times every 90 minutes.
“the debate should centre around the fact the Premier League and the PGMOL have said very clearly that they are going to apply a lighter touch,” Hackett told Football Insider‘s Connor Whitley.
“I’ve got to say that the lighter touch has seen a number of pretty heavy challenges that should have at least been a free-kick and in some a yellow cards because I deem them reckless. They weren’t managed effectively by the referee.
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“I always think of the Mohamed Salah one where Jurgen Klopp went apoplectic on the sidelines and got a red card. That was all about the fact there was a foul on Salah that wasn’t given because of the lighter touch.
“It’s a fine balance because the Premier League and managers want the game to flow, unless you are trying to bring every tactic into play to stop the game.
“Saka often receives the ball with his back to his opponent and gets the nudge or knock.
“I’m sure Ian Wright will be making his comments based on his own past. I remember refereeing Wrighty and him taking a few hits and me applying advantage and him having a quiet word.
“This is one of the benefits of players of his quality making a comment.
“I remember watching back the first game of my FA Cup final and thought Ossie Ardiles got some rough treatment. I came out for the replay and after a few minutes, I cautioned Gerry Gow because I thought he was going to look after Ardiles. I missed it in the first game but responded by doing my homework.
“On Saka, this is where the stats don’t give you the full facts because he could be fouled but the referee hasn’t given him the free-kick, he might have applied advantage.
“At times, he takes the ball and becomes a target. Referees have got to be aware.
“The comments by Ian Wright, who is well respected in the game, will have not called on deaf ears.”