Arsene Wenger Questions Referee After Arsenal vs. Everton Thriller

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal and Olympique de Marseille at Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has more than partly blamed his side's 1-1 draw with Everton on the officials, claiming that several key aspects of the game went against his Arsenal team.

According to the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel, Wenger claimed Romelu Lukaku was offside in the buildup to Everton's 84th-minute equaliser, barely four minutes after Mesut Ozil had put the hosts in front.

Per the report, the Frenchman said:

I think he was offside and he made a foul before the goal but the referee didn't give it. But it doesn't mean that we have to concede the goal because of it. Deulofeu, you have to give him credit. He took his goal very well. You have to accept it.

It wasn't the only complaint Wenger had to make, however, as the Gunners boss also noted that the Toffees' high line of pressing meant their foul rate increased.

In order to not be caught on the break, Wenger suggests Everton, who picked up four yellow cards to Arsenal's none, were guilty of tactical fouling: 

I believe the disadvantage of applying high pressure is that if you are not winning the ball back, you can be outnumbered. To make a foul without being punished by the referee is a huge advantage because after that you play ten against ten in one half again.

I feel overall that’s maybe a new problem for the referees because everybody puts pressure on the opponents high up (the field) and, of course, on the condition that if they don’t win the ball back they foul.

The North Londoners did in fact finish the game having given away more fouls than their visitors, per BBC Sport, showing that Everton's tendencies to work outside the laws of the game weren't quite at extraordinary levels.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Theo Walcott of Arsenal and Gareth Barry of Everton battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on December 8, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Rega
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's not the first time this season that Wenger has been caught up in refereeing controversy. His rivalry with the now-retired Sir Alex Ferguson was temporarily reignited by the Mirror's John Cross in November, when the Arsenal manager stated that the former Manchester United figure benefited from officials' decisions at Old Trafford.

Arsenal's draw with Everton means their lead at the top of the Premier League table has been cut to just five points, with Liverpool second on 30 points while Everton are on 28.

The concern for Wenger will be that Everton may have shown how to counter Arsenal's slick style of football. By pressing the ball high up the pitch the Toffees dominated their hosts for long periods.

Wenger knows his team are good enough to overcome such tactics, but not if referees allow teams to support their approach with niggling fouls to break up play. His latest comments on Sunday's officials are aimed at ensuring his team are protected during a crucial Christmas period.