Arsene Wenger calls Mike Dean penalty decision 'a farce' in new attack on refs
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has launched another attack on Premier League refereeing, calling Mike Dean's penalty decision against West Brom "a farce" and saying match officials should be demoted to the Championship after making big mistakes.
Wenger is facing an FA charge of verbally abusing Dean after Sunday's game when West Brom snatched a 1-1 draw in the 89th minute at the Hawthorns after Dean awarded a spot kick when Kieran Gibbs' cross hit Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on the arm at point-blank range.
Wenger remained angry after incident, telling reporters on Tuesday that Premier League referees themselves do not seem to have a clear view on what the rules are and are living in "the dark ages" when it comes to showing authority on the pitch.
"This one is a bit of a farce, honestly, because that is not serious," Wenger said about Dean's decision. "You do not give in the last minute of a game a penalty like that. When you see how he [Dean] shows his arm, it has nothing to do with what happened. So he sees what he wants to see."
Wenger said Dean raised his arm up in the air to indicate that Chambers had done the same on the pitch. Replays showed that while the defender's arm did twitch, it remained in front of his body when it was struck by the ball.
Wenger insisted such decisions must become more consistent, and pointed to an incident in Manchester United's 0-0 draw against Southampton on Saturday when referee Craig Pawson waved away United's claims when the ball struck Maya Yoshida's arm.
"It was much more a penalty than the [Chambers handball]," Wenger said. "They don't look to have the same rule book. They will not sort that problem out, I've said that many times, as long as they do not give clear indications on what is a penalty and not a penalty."
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech also hit out at Dean after the West Brom game, saying players had been told in meetings with refereeing officials before the season that such incidents would not be considered deliberate handballs.
Wenger said those meetings are pointless when the standards seem to change during the season.
"They should spare that visit. They could stay at home, because they never respect what they say," Wenger said in comments made before he was charged by the FA. "That changes always during the season, because they must watch the television and see, 'Oh he's given a penalty. Maybe next time I do it as well.' They need a clear guidance."
Wenger has highlighted the fact that no English referees will work at this summer's World Cup as proof that the Premier League's standards have slipped -- an argument that is misleading as Mark Clattenburg had already been selected to represent England before retiring.
Wenger also said the FA is not able to hold Premier League referees properly accountable because there is a shortage of officials at the top level.
"I think the system of promoting young referees does not work, and they do not give enough chances maybe to young referees to go up," he said. "They should have a bigger [pool] and the guys who have a bad patch [should] go down to the second division."
Wenger has criticised a number of refereeing decisions this season, including after away losses at Stoke, Watford and Manchester City. He could face another sanction following the latest FA charge, having served a four-match touchline ban last season for an altercation with fourth official Anthony Taylor after another late penalty decision.
Taylor will be in charge of Arsenal's crucial home game against Chelsea on Wednesday, but Wenger said he never goes into a game worrying about who is officiating.
"Honestly, I never know who is the referee of the next game," Wenger said. "You just told me [it is Taylor]. I didn't know, I never look at the referee. I think at the start [of the game] the guy tries to do a good job and I have no preconceived ideas."
Earlier this season, Wenger praised what he called "a top-class referee" in the Serie A game between Juventus and Napoli as an example of what he would like to see in England.
When asked what the Italian referee did differently in that game, Wenger said: "He made quick, clear decisions and has shown authority to get the game respected.
"Sometimes, when after five minutes the goalkeeper starts to waste time, I say to the fourth official, 'Look up there [in the stands], you have people who pay a lot of money to watch football, and you are responsible for making sure that football happens on the pitch.'
"They have to serve the game like we have to serve game and try to give positive emotions to people who love football in the stands. That's what they have to do."
Wenger said that referees in England are still prone to calling players over and speaking to them for "half a minute or a minute," and settling for a warning before actually sanctioning them.
"That is not the rhythm of modern society. People want crisp, sharp action and for the referees to make sure that that happens," Wenger said. "That was 1950 when the guy talks to him [and says]: 'If you're not nice, next time I might punish you.'
"Come on, let's not waste time -- what does it help the game? Nothing happens. People who sit in the stands, they don't want to see that. They want to see, 'Come on, let's get on with it and play' -- and that's their responsibility.
"We don't live in the dark ages."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.