Mauricio Pochettino questioned the officiating in Tottenham’s north London derby draw with Arsenal – but insists his side were better than the Gunners in “all aspects” of the game.
Aaron Ramsey had given Arsenal a half-time lead at Wembley in his final derby appearance before his summer move to Juventus.
Harry Kane levelled from the penalty spot after he had been nudged over by Shkodran Mustafi, and there was more drama as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a last-minute spot-kick before Lucas Torreira was sent off for the visitors as the game finished 1-1.
In a derby where the performance of referee Anthony Taylor and his assistants came under the microscope, Pochettino was less than impressed.
He felt Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka should have been punished for an early challenge on Kane, with other decisions also going against his side in recent weeks.
“I think if you assess the game I think we were better than Arsenal in all the aspects,” said Pochettino.
“Sometimes we focus on a few actions. But I think that the action that changed the game was after 12 minutes. The action from Xhaka to Harry Kane that wasn’t even a foul.
“That was the action that afterwards changed everything in the dynamic of the game. This season we are so unlucky, decisions that affect us in a negative way.
I think if you assess the game I think we were better than Arsenal in all the aspects. Mauricio Pochettino
“Like (against) Manchester United, Paul Pogba should be sent off, Harry Kane got an injury when it was a clear foul on the edge of the box but no foul.
“We keep on going in many, many, many situations but you know, hope that we get to the end of the season and next season change maybe and we have more luck in the future.”
With video assistant referees being introduced to the Premier League next season, many will feel contentious decisions should be a thing of the past.
But Pochettino does not feel the use of VAR will be the solution to all such issues.
“Yes, of course, although from the beginning I wasn’t too clear in the way that they are using it in different leagues,” he said when asked if introducing VAR will help.
“It’s a massive experience for us to watch. I am following different leagues like France or Spain and the problems are happening the same.
“Nothing’s changed too much. Some situations that are so difficult for the referee to handle or manage we cannot believe that it’s going to the key, that football is going to be fair.
“Football never was fair and it never will be. But of course in the way that we are going to use the VAR is going to be key.
“I think with all the experience in the World Cup and the different leagues this season it’s such important work to do now for the future, to be sure that it’s going to be a massive help for the decisions of the referee. It’s going to try to be in some situations fair decisions for each.”
Arsenal could have closed within a point of third-placed Tottenham with a win that their display – and the tactics of head coach Unai Emery – arguably deserved.
The Spaniard said he was “proud” of the performance from his team after he opted to leave Mesut Ozil, Aubameyang and Torreira on the bench.
"I am proud of the players and of their work. Then you can win, you can lose, or you can draw like we did.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 2, 2019
"But above all, we played like a team, feeling together and pushing individually and collectively."
- @UnaiEmery_ 👔#NLD #TOTARS pic.twitter.com/nfOMI7qTCd
“I am proud of the players, of our work,” he said.
“Then you can win, you can lose, you can draw like we did. But above all, we played like a team, feeling together and pushing individually and collectively.”
Emery also felt Taylor made some mistakes during the game and backed the introduction of VAR.
“The personality of the referee today was good – after, he made mistakes,” he added.
“That can come because it’s very difficult for them to watch in the moments, an action like that. VAR is coming to help them and to be fair for these decisions and I think it’s positive for football in England.”