The Independent London Newspaper
26th April 2019

Wenger questions referee as Arsenal's title hopes suffer a heavy blow at Chelsea

    ARSENE Wenger

    Arsene Wenger: 'Referees are much stricter with tackles on the ground, but they let elbows to the face go. I see that in many, many games'

    Published: 4 February, 2017 
    By PAUL COWLING at Stamford Bridge 

    Premier League 

    ARSENE Wenger was quick to criticise referee Martin Atkinson after watching his Arsenal side get resoundingly beaten by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this afternoon (Saturday).

    The blues took the lead in the 13th minute when Marcos Alonso headed home from close range after Diego Costa's initial header came back off the bar.

    Wenger was unhappy with Alonso's challenge on Hector Bellerin, a heavy blow to the head which forced the right-back's substitution.

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    "Of course it was a foul," snarled Wenger as soon as he sat down at the post-match press conference. "He (referee Martin Atkinson) allowed the goal to stand. Bellerin was knocked out.

    "Referees are much stricter with tackles on the ground, but they let elbows to the face go. I see that in many, many games."

    The 3-1 victory is one that will surely now see Chelsea run away with the Premier League title. Arsenal, meanwhile, find themselves 12 points behind, and it is hard to see a way back for them.

    "We were not at our best today, individually or as a team," admitted Wenger. "At 1-0 down, we paid for that. We were not good enough in possession.

    "I am disappointed and it is difficult to speak so soon after the game."

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    With Wenger marooned in with the home fans, as he continued to serve out his touchline ban, the Gunners' boss could only look on as Arsenal's afternoon - and title aspirations - unravelled.

    "We want you to stay," chanted the delighted home fans.

    Wenger hinted that the four-match ban he is currently serving after being charged with misconduct by the FA was ruining Arsenal's season. "It was frustrating to watch from upstairs, with people standing up and on their phones," he said.

    "It is very frustrating with the ban. I cannot do my job. But I had to pay for what I did, and I have to get on with it."

    Alonso's controversial opener was all that separated the sides until the 53rd minute, when a goal of sublime individual skill from Chelsea's Eden Hazard ended what was, in truth, a one-sided encounter.

    The Belgian left Francis Coquelin and Laurent Koscielny for dead, before calmly slotting past a helpless Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.

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    Cech's torrid return to the Bridge got worse in the 85th minute. His poor clearance fell to former Gunner Cesc Fabregas, who calmly returned the ball into an empty net from long range.

    Fabregas didn't celebrate out of respect for his former club, but his team-mates and the home crowd did. 

    Arsenal fans slumped away from their seats and headed home. They would have missed Olivier Giroud' s consolation at the death - the French striker heading in from a Nacho Monreal cross to make the final score 3-1. 

    ARSENAL: Cech; Bellerin (Gabriel, 13), Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin (Giroud '64); Walcott (Welbeck '69), Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez
    Subs not used: Ospina, Gibbs, Reine Adelaide, Maitland-Niles
    Attendance: 41,490



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