LONDON • Arsene Wenger made the extraordinary claim that he knew beforehand his Arsenal team would be the victim of a "farcical" refereeing decision as he continued to rage against perceived injustice at the hands of officials.
The Arsenal manager watched his team draw 2-2 with Chelsea in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday after a last-gasp Hector Bellerin equaliser.
But he was fuming when referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty to the visitors, even though there was contact from Bellerin on Eden Hazard. The Chelsea forward scored from the spot to make it 1-1 after Jack Wilshere had put the Gunners ahead. Marcos Alonso scored the Blues' second goal, but Bellerin made sure Arsenal salvaged a draw in the 92nd minute.
Wenger has been raging since a controversial penalty was awarded against his team during the 1-1 draw at West Brom last Saturday, which effectively cost them two points.
The Frenchman has been charged by the Football Association for a post-match bust-up with referee Mike Dean - he faces a touchline or stadium ban - but the 68-year-old has vowed to contest that and filed a fresh complaint.
"We got again a farcical decision on a penalty but we knew that, as well, before," he said. "So we have to deal with that. It is very frustrating that we are still sixth. Our recent performances have been top quality but you have to say we have not been gifted with luck.
We got again a farcical decision on a penalty but we knew that, as well, before. So we have to deal with that. It is very frustrating that we are still sixth.
ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, blaming his team's second consecutive league draw on referee's decision going against them.
"I will contest my charge 100 per cent. You can listen to every interview I did (after West Brom) and I stick to everything I said.
"I have been in football for 35 years, I know what I said and I stand up for what I said."
His tone turned conspiratorial when he highlighted how Tottenham Hotspur's opener in their 2-0 win at Swansea on Tuesday had been offside while they might have had Davinson Sanchez sent off.
"The referees get away with you, with the English press, always, no matter what they do," Wenger added after his side closed to within a point of their north London rivals, who faced West Ham this morning (Singapore time).
"You have watched the (Spurs) game last night. You couldn't read a line about it today. So nothing will change. So we have to deal with that and to live with that."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, however, jumped to the defence of referees.
"I must be honest, I didn't see the penalty. There's frustration for coaches but we must accept the referee's decisions," the Italian said.
MATCH OFFICIALS HAVE FINAL WORD
I must be honest, I didn't see the penalty. There's frustration for coaches but we must accept the referee's decisions.
ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, admitting that coaches have no choice but to respect the calls officials make.
He also defended his striker Alvaro Morata after the Spaniard missed three one-on-one chances.
He twice fired off target when clean through and then at Petr Cech in stoppage time.
"It is not a lucky period for him," Conte said. "Today, he had chances but this is football. I'm happy with his commitment, he worked hard for the team and they are the most important things for me."
Davide Zappacosta should have also given Chelsea a last-minute winner but he crashed a shot against the crossbar. Wenger was asked how he would have felt if that effort had gone in and Chelsea had clinched all three points, on top of the penalty decision.
"Maybe I would have gone home and committed suicide," the Frenchman said in jest. "I was so close to that."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS