Wenger slams Hazard penalty, blames media for poor officiating
LONDON -- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger blasted what he called another "farcical" penalty decision in Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Chelsea, and criticised the British media for allowing referees to get away with poor performances.
Wenger is already facing an FA charge for his criticism of Mike Dean after Sunday's 1-1 draw at West Brom, and was seething once again after Anthony Taylor awarded Chelsea a second-half penalty for Hector Bellerin's challenge on Eden Hazard in the area. Bellerin was going for the ball but kicked Hazard's leg instead, and the Chelsea forward went to the ground.
Hazard converted from the spot himself to make it 1-1 before Marcos Alonso put the visitors ahead, while Bellerin then fired in his own equaliser in injury time of a highly entertaining game.
Wenger again criticised the scheduling that gave Chelsea an extra day's rest before this game, and said he knew before the game that Arsenal would get a refereeing decision against them.
"It was a game where we have shown great mental resources. I knew before the game that the last 20 minutes could be difficult for us because we have a big disadvantage with the schedule. And we got again a farcical decision on the penalty, but we knew that as well before, so we have to deal with that," Wenger told a news conference.
Wenger served a four-game touchline ban for an altercation with Taylor last season, and could be slapped with another ban after being charged with verbally abusing Dean in his changing room after Sunday's game, when West Brom were given an 89th-minute penalty for a dubious handball decision.
Wenger has been on a crusade against the Premier League's refereeing standards this season, and extended his criticism to the media on Wednesday. As an example, he said none of the newspaper reports from Tuesday's Swansea-Tottenham game made an issue of Spurs' scoring an offside goal.
"The referees get away with you, with the English press, always no matter what they do," Wenger said. "You have watched the game last night, you couldn't read a line about it today. So nothing will change. So we have to deal with that and we have to live with that. ... A refereeing decision influenced the game, no? But nobody talks about it. So that means nothing will change."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had a slightly different view, and highlighted that some people thought Jack Wilshere should have been sent off with a second yellow for a dive in the second half.
"I must be honest, I didn't see the penalty. I didn't see the dive of Wilshere, because another journalist asked me if I thought it was fair for Wilshere to continue the game after a dive and a second yellow card," Conte said. "But I must be honest I didn't see this situation, and for this reason I don't want to comment.
"But at the same time I think we must have a great respect for the decisions of the referee. For sure, there is a lot of frustration for the coach during the game and after the game. But at the same time, I think we must try to accept every decision of the referee, even if some times we do not agree."
Wenger's latest comments probably won't help his standing with the FA ahead of their decision on possible disciplinary action, but the Frenchman was defiant and said he stood by his previous criticism "100 percent."
"You can listen to every interview I said, and I stick to everything I said without any problem," he said. "I'm 35 years in football, I know what I say after the game and I stand up for what I said, no problem. What I find terrible, is that we have just seen a great football game and we talk only about things that have nothing to do with football."
On a positive note, Wenger again praised Wilshere for the way he has come back to form this season, after the midfielder put Arsenal ahead 1-0 with a fierce strike from a difficult angle.
"He's at a level now where not many people expected him to be," Wenger said. "Everybody had given up on him. And today nobody would be surprised if he was selected [for England] again. So that means instead of us being criticised for that, I think first of all he deserves great credit for remarkable strength. And we as well.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.