Man charged after Arsenal vs. Manchester United pitch invasion

A spectator who ran onto the pitch at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Sunday and appeared to push Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has been charged with common assault.

The man ran onto the pitch after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from the penalty spot to put Arsenal 2-0 in front against United in the second half of their 2-0 win.

He then ran towards the celebrating Arsenal players before being removed from the playing area by stewards.

A Metropolitan Police statement read: "A man has been charged after an incident at the Emirates Stadium.

"Gary Cooper, 30 (10.07.1988) of Styventon Place, Chertsey, Surrey, was arrested on Sunday, March 10, during a football match between Arsenal and Manchester United.

"He has been charged with common assault and going on to the playing area.He was bailed to Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Friday, March 26."

An Arsenal spokesman said the club condemned the behaviour of the pitch invader and apologised to Smalling and United.

"We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation," the spokesman added. "The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches, home and away."

The incident was one of several that has damaged the reputation of British football in the last week. Birmingham City are also being investigated after a fan attacked Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish in their local derby.

"This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour," said a spokesperson for the FA.

"On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

"Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

"This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

"We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

"In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place."

"I didn't see exactly what happened but there shouldn't be a place in the game where someone runs on to the pitch," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. "It's not nice to see. It's one of those thing that we don't want."

"I don't want that, but it's not in my control," Arsenal manager Unai Emery added. "I think we can enjoy this with every supporter and today I'm very proud of every supporter who helped us, but I think we need to do this with respect.

Earlier on Sunday, Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was punched in the back of the head by a spectator who ran onto the pitch during Villa's derby match at Birmingham City.

Villa's 1-0 win at St. Andrews was barely 10 minutes old when a fan came onto the field of play and approached Grealish.

The fan swung a punch from behind and caught the Villa player, who fell to the ground. A steward managed to restrain the supporter and marched him off the pitch.

West Midlands police later confirmed the supporter had been arrested, while Grealish went on to score the decisive goal as Villa won 1-0.