Belfast Telegraph

Wenger stands by his man after Arsenal beat Burnley with late penalty

Arsene Wenger insisted Aaron Ramsey was focused on playing the ball, not the percentages, when he earned Arsenal's match-winning penalty at Burnley.

The Gunners were heading for a goalless draw at Turf Moor when James Tarkowski tussled with the Wales international, whose tumble to the floor could hardly fail to catch referee Lee Mason's eye.

Alexis Sanchez stroked home the penalty, remarkably the third time in a row Arsenal have beaten the Clarets in added-time - but there were mixed opinions on Ramsey's contribution.

His manager saw nothing but a straightforward penalty, claiming the midfielder was unable to keep his footing.

"It looked from the outside like a clear penalty," said the Frenchman, after seeing his side leapfrog rivals Tottenham to regain a top-four slot in the Premier League.

"When you speak to him he didn't throw himself on the ground. He said he wanted to go back and flick on the ball. He was pushed in the back and he had a problem in his neck from the push. He said it was a very strong push.

"I can understand if they (Burnley) are disappointed with it but from the outside it looked a penalty."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche, whose side were comfortably superior for 45 minutes, did not take issue with the penalty decision but was at pains to present it as part of a trend that counts against so-called 'small clubs'.

"It probably is a penalty but my point is we were never not going to get that given, I can assure you," he said.

"With those calls you have to be 100%, which I assume the referee was.

"We've had a lot not given when it's been similar. People have been talking about it way beyond my time as a manager, that the bigger clubs seem to get the decisions. Managers for years have been promoting this, that they do."

Burnley's two previous last-gasp defeats in the fixture came after another Sanchez penalty at the Emirates and a Laurent Koscielny handball that went unseen at Turf Moor last year.

"I don't know if anyone's into stats but I'd be interested to see what someone has to say about that happening three times, home and away. Three times involving referee moments," said Dyche.

"It's a strange one but c'est la vie. We look forward to going there and getting another one this season, making it four. That'd be brilliant."

Dyche had the final word on Ramsey, absolving him of any guilt.

"Have you seen this division? That was an absolute smash in the back compared to what most people go down with in this division."

Arsenal will check on Mesut Ozil before Wednesday's game against Huddersfield after the midfielder became unwell on Saturday morning, forcing Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make a late dash north to fill up the away bench.

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