Belfast Telegraph

Ref didn't see handball: Wenger

West Brom 1 Arsenal 1

By Sean Taylor

Angry Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes the referee did not see the incident which saw a controversial penalty deny his side victory at West Brom.

The Gunners were on course for three points after Alexis Sanchez's deflected free-kick put them ahead with seven minutes remaining, but they were made to settle for a point after Calum Chambers was adjudged to have handled a cross by former Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs.

The incident was similar to one on Saturday at Old Trafford when the ball struck the arm of Southampton's Maya Yoshida, but Manchester United were not awarded a penalty.

However, referee Mike Dean did point to the penalty spot and Jay Rodriguez held his nerve to convert the spot-kick.

"I think the referee has not even seen it, he's not seen it," said Wenger.

"That's my opinion, but he will tell you he has seen it. But we have to live with the decision and deal with it and swallow it and go for the next game.

"It wasn't a penalty. It was not a deliberate handball. The arm was not up. You can not play football when you are as close as that. It is impossible. Where do you put you arms when you move, in your pocket? There are no pockets in the shorts.

"I'm angry because we see the same things again. We fought very hard years ago for the referees to become professional and yet we see no improvement."

Sanchez had a quiet match but it was his shot which brought the Arsenal goal. The Chile international had been in the spotlight after Thierry Henry suggested there was a dressing-room rift at the Gunners after not all the team celebrated his first goal at Crystal Palace on Thursday.

But, aside from goalkeeper Petr Cech, the entire team ran to Sanchez this time before Rodriguez struck.

Out of contract in the summer and with the transfer window set to open again in a few hours, Sanchez is likely to remain in the spotlight as speculation regarding his future mounts.

Asked if Sanchez had played his last game for the club, Wenger said: "He will play on Wednesday against Chelsea.

"I have spoken many times about it and I'm not ready to speak about it any more. I have given my answer many times in the Press conferences and I don't see why I should come back on a topic I have spoken about 155 times."

Meanwhile, West Brom boss Alan Pardew sympathised with Wenger over the penalty decision but felt it was time Albion had some good fortune.

"I would have been very upset if it had been given against me," he said.

"It was a tough penalty in terms of the decision, but the ball has hit his arm.

"We are all a little bit in the dark about what is handball and what isn't handball.

"What's intentional and what isn't intentional, I don't know. But I can understand Arsene being angry about it.

"But we deserved it. We've had three or four games where we haven't had a break at all.

"There was a lot of pressure on us today. All the other teams down near the bottom of the league had won and we were playing Arsenal, and we had to deal with that pressure and get something and we did."

WEST BROM: Foster, Dawson, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Phillips (McClean, 72 mins), Livermore, Barry, Brunt (Krychowiak, 72 mins), Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu (Nyom, 75 mins). Unused subs: Yacob, Myhill, Burke, McAuley.

Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny (Mertesacker, 72 mins), Chambers, Mustafi, Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles, 37 mins), Sanchez, Iwobi (Welbeck, 74 mins), Lacazette. Unused subs: Ospina, Walcott, Coquelin, Elneny.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Man of the match: Ahmed Hegazi

Match rating: 7/10

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