Arsenal: Why Wenger Is Wrong to Complain About the Referee in the Fulham Loss

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Arsenal:  Why Wenger Is Wrong to Complain About the Referee in the Fulham Loss
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger could not hide his frustration towards referee Lee Probert, who reduced Arsenal to 10 men in the 78th minute of the Fulham-Arsenal match, the first for both team in the new year.

Fulham scored two goals after the dismissal of the Arsenal defender, a factor that Wenger feels affected the outcome of the match. In a reaction tinged with frustration, Wenger spoke out against Probert after the match. Mirror Football quickly reported Wenger as saying the following:

All the important decisions went against us—the penalty not given on Gervinho, the first yellow card was not a yellow, the second was a foul for us. They tried to get him [Djourou] the second yellow.

 As the Arsenal boss reflected on the implication of the loss to Fulham, he continued.

It’s difficult to lose a game like that because I felt all the important decisions today went against us.

And the moment you get the first yellow card they tried every time to get him the second yellow, and the referee was naive enough to give it.

I saw it coming because of the game when Frei came looking for the second yellow card on Djourou and in the end he got it.

I tell you the game I’ve seen; I don’t care about the rest.

The ref influenced the game in completely the wrong way in my opinion, and we cannot influence that.

Naturally, the Fulham manager, Martin Jol, disagreed.

Maybe he could accuse me of trying to do something, but I don’t think players can do that. He (Djourou) probably could have had a second booking before that to be fair.

Wenger, though, feels frustrated by a number of decisions that haven't gone Arsenal's way in recent games. After the incidents in the Fulham game, he couldn't contain the frustration any longer.

We had a penalty in the last game that was a clear handball, a penalty at Man City and a penalty at Villa Park, but we didn’t get them. You should not ask me what do we have to do to get one. I don’t know.

There was too much at stake today, and we needed absolutely everything to go for us and to be right. We are guilty because we still gave two stupid goals away. I felt it was a stupid way and we didn’t take our chances.

It was a massive missed opportunity. We have consistent problems to face and we do it with heart, and it’s very difficult defeat to swallow the defeat as I feel it wasn’t deserved.

There will be many who agree with Wenger. For example, Charlie Melman, an Arsenal fan and B/R columnist writes:

Arsenal were denied a clear penalty when our old pal, Philippe Senderos, tripped Gervinho in the box, countless free kicks were not given and in one instance, John Arne Riise actually pushed Johan Djourou off the pitch with both hands in order to win a ball back.

And this happens in almost every game.

But the biggest decision that went against Arsenal was Djourou's second yellow card, which was given after the Swiss barely put his hand on Bobby Zamora, causing the latter to tumble to the ground like he had been shot.

Arsenal are good, but when the other team constantly gets the help of the officials, it's like playing against a team with 14 or 15 men—in other words, completely unfair.

On the other end of the spectrum, John Hartson, a former Arsenal striker blames Arsenal's indiscipline for Djourou's red card and lambasts Wenger for blaming the referee in an interview with Talksport.

People are sick of it. You want Wenger to come out and say, ‘Look, my players were ill-disciplined.’

Over the years at Arsenal, the discipline has been woeful under Wenger. You want him to take it [the blame] on the chin.We all know Arsenal should have won the game, they go 1-0 up but that’s a dangerous score line, they needed that second goal.

Fulham are always thinking, one more goal and we’re back in this. I’m getting sick of excuses [from Wenger]. I don’t know how you can defend his comments really.

I genuinely feel Djourou deserved to get sent off.The first tackle on Dembele was a definite booking, and a rash referee could have sent him off.

Then he gets away with another one on Frei that could have been a booking and then the third one on Zamora. Zamora's a very clever player and if you’re clean through and then pulled back, clever players go down.

You’ve seen Arsenal players like Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Robert Pires all go down under Wenger. This is was what clever players do. If they are touched, if they’ve felt a little bit on the shoulder, they go down. It’s not cheating, it’s clever.

However you may react to the two opinions given here—the typical whine of an Arsenal fan or the rant of an angry, erstwhile Gunner who attacks his own rather than blaming someone else for the team's travails—what is clear immediately is the subject's contentious nature.

It is one of the reasons I believe Wenger is wrong in complaining about the referee however aggrieved he felt about Lee Probert's performance. 

I give six other reasons in the following slides.

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