image

English Premier League 2016-17

Referees ‘like lions in the zoo’, wails Arsene Wenger after Manchester City beat Arsenal

Gunners boss says both goals against his side were offside

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 December, 2016, 9:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 December, 2016, 9:45am

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suggested referees were over-protected after complaining “two offside goals” had accounted for his team in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester City.

Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a fifth-minute lead, but Leroy Sane equalised early in the second half, getting the benefit of the doubt in a tight offside call to run in and score from David Silva’s pass.

Raheem Sterling struck a 71st-minute winner, but Wenger felt Silva’s attempt to play the ball in front of goalkeeper Petr Cech should have seen the goal ruled out.

“We conceded two offside goals, which is very difficult to accept in a game of that stature,” Wenger told his post-match press conference.

“As it is well known, the referees are protected very well, that is right, like the lions in the zoo.

“So we have to live with those decisions. I want them to be safe. If they could make the right decision, it would be even better.”

Arsenal’s defeat was the second game in succession they had gone ahead, only to lose 2-1, having fallen to defeat in similar circumstances at Everton on Tuesday.

On that occasion, Wenger protested that Ashley Williams’s headed 86th-minute winner had stemmed from an erroneously awarded corner.

The result saw City leapfrog Arsenal into second place, leaving them seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Chelsea won 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago, but City manager Pep Guardiola felt there was not much difference between that display and his side’s performance against Arsenal.

“Arsenal were lucky in the first half,” Guardiola told the BBC.

“It was a Premier League game and a good game for everybody. It was similar to the game against Chelsea. Then we played well and lost and today we won.

“The guys give everything in every game. I’m happy to be City coach. In terms of spirit, it’s always there.”

Adding to Arsenal’s problems, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was forced off by injury in the second half just 13 minutes after coming on as a replacement for Alex Iwobi.

“It looks a hamstring,” Wenger said. “It is a muscular problem.”

Guardiola said his side will be ready to pounce if Chelsea falter.

Chelsea have streaked clear at the summit thanks to a storming run of 11 consecutive victories.

Asked if the win, secured by second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, would give City a psychological boost, Guardiola nodded and replied: “A lot.

“Seven points is a huge distance and when a team can make 11 victories in a row, you just can say congratulations.

“But at least to be there as much possible, and waiting if the opponent fails sometimes, and waiting until the last part of the season to be there, to fight for the title.”