Belfast Telegraph

Penalty call was harsh and Wanyama deserved red, insists angry Wenger

By Jack de Menezes

Arsene Wenger bemoaned Mark Clattenburg's decision to award Tottenham a penalty that saw Arsenal draw 1-1 yesterday afternoon and also insisted that midfielder Victor Wanyama was lucky to stay on the pitch having embraced the physicality of the north London derby.

The Gunners boss did concede that the two factors were not enough to take the blame from failing to win away from his own side, given that they were not able to add a second goal after Spurs defender Kevin Wimmer headed into his own net to gift the home side the lead.

But he did display a frustration with referee Clattenburg's decision to award Spurs a second-half penalty after Laurent Koscielny fouled Mousa Dembele, which allowed the returning Harry Kane to beat Petr Cech.

"The penalty was harsh," Wenger said, having described it earlier as "unlucky". "From where I sat, it looked harsh. It didn't look a deliberate foul or that he (Dembele) was dangerous to score. Even speaking to some referees, you can give it or not give it. As Arsenal manager, I wouldn't have given it."

Turning his attention to the robust Wanyama, Wenger was clear in his opinion that the Kenyan should not have seen the final whistle.

"He was very lucky to stay on the pitch," he said. "A few fouls, the elbow on (Theo) Walcott for example. We have to cope with that. The referee makes the decisions. Still, nobody stopped us from scoring a second goal."

Mauricio Pochettino sprung a major surprise, starting with a back three for just the second time in his Tottenham tenure. Spurs played a 3-4-1-2 system, a response to going five games since they last scored a goal in open play.

While that run continued, with Kane's equaliser coming from the penalty spot, this was Spurs' best performance for weeks.

"In football, you need to be flexible to find a better way to play," Pochettino said.

"In the last month we've had some small problems, and we always need to adapt our system and game. Today we worked a lot to try and find a better solution in the offensive situations and areas.

"We tried to play thinking about the opposite goal, with our full-backs higher, and with more strikers to try to win the game.

"We showed a strong performance and worked hard. The most important thing when the team shows that performance and the players know what they need to do in difference phases of the game, that always pleases us a lot."

Pochettino was very impressed with the performance of Dembele, who shook off an ankle injury sustained in the Champions League during the week.

"Dembele is a genius," Pochettino said of the Belgian midfielder. "He's a genius. He played only 20 minutes against Leverkusen and today he was one of the best."

Belfast Telegraph


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