Koeman mocks Wenger over ref

Everton's Ashley Williams (No. 5) heading home to complete a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Arsenal on Tuesday. Everton manager Ronald Koeman said of the turnaround: "We showed big personality."
Everton's Ashley Williams (No. 5) heading home to complete a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Arsenal on Tuesday. Everton manager Ronald Koeman said of the turnaround: "We showed big personality."PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Dutchman cites his rival's pattern of blame as Gunners squander chance to overhaul Blues

LONDON • Ronald Koeman ridiculed Arsene Wenger for claiming referee Mark Clattenburg was responsible for Arsenal's 2-1 defeat by Everton as the visitors missed the chance to overtake Chelsea as Premier League leaders on Tuesday.

Arsenal's 14-game unbeaten run was ended at a raucous Goodison Park, where Everton recovered from Alexis Sanchez's deflected opener to win through headers from Seamus Coleman and Ashley Williams.

Williams struck in the 86th minute from a Ross Barkley corner, the second in quick succession.

However, Wenger claimed the first corner should not have been awarded when a header by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton's 19-year-old debutant, appeared to have been deflected wide.

"Of course it was no corner. You can see it was no corner but we have to live with the wrong decision," the Arsenal manager said. "The referee made his decision but that does not explain why we did not head the ball. I am really disappointed in Mr Clattenburg.

"He is in a really good position to see it and it is not the first time we are really unlucky with his decisions."

Clattenburg awarded what Wenger labelled "a soft penalty" against Arsenal in last month's 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.

His complaint on Tuesday drew a sarcastic response from Koeman, who was involved in a tunnel bust-up with the Arsenal manager while in charge of Southampton last season and was delighted in Everton's first win in six matches.

"I am not surprised about Wenger and his comments," the Everton manager said. "It is the third time in a row I won at home against Arsenal as a manager, and three times in a row it was about the referee. I'm sorry, Arsenal - we won through the referee's decision. I'm sorry."

The defeat was Arsenal's first on the road in the Premier League since losing at Manchester United on Feb 28 and Wenger admitted his side struggled after a confident start in the face of Everton's determined display.

"We have to look at ourselves," he said. "We lost the game. We started well and after that lost a bit of urgency. We were maybe a bit too comfortable and Everton made it very physical. I believe they disturbed our game and we created less. In the end, unfortunately, we didn't take our chance or two."

Koeman shared Wenger's assessment that Everton's aggression after a poor start was responsible for turning the game in their favour.

"The key was how we played after 20 minutes," he said. "That was the team what we like to see, what the fans like to see - you go face to face, aggression, pressing, playing football and go for it."

The high stakes, with Everton looking to end a five-game winless run and Arsenal seeking a win that would have taken them to the top of the table, spilt over at half-time.

Rival players exchanged words and traded pushes, with James McCarthy seeming to accost Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil.

Wenger also insisted his players had not frozen on a big occasion.

"No," he said. "We were a little bit less fresh and maybe we lost a little bit of urgency when we were 1-0 up and perfectly in control of the game... They made the game physical, they defended well."

Koeman said the victory was perfect preparation for Everton's next game, the home Merseyside derby with Liverpool on Monday.

"It is a totally different situation to go into (on) Monday," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Koeman mocks Wenger over ref'. Print Edition | Subscribe