Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening would appear to all but rule the Gunners out of a place in this season's Champions League quarterfinals, and Arsene Wenger was left fuming about the way in which their first leg was decided.
A game-changing decision in the round of 16 clash saw Wojciech Szczesny sent off in the 37th minute, with a penalty awarded to Arjen Robben as a result of the Pole's challenge inside the box.
The Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel says Wenger made a diving gesture following the incident and quotes the Arsenal boss saying that referee Nicola Rizzoli had been deceived by the Bavarian visitors:
The keeper touched him, but I told Robben he made more of it and it changed the game.
It doesn't just change the game, it kills the game. It was a top-quality game and in the second half it was one-way traffic.
Robben has enough experience to make more of it. They made the most of every contact and we are not used to it. We are not used to it in England. We are not used to that in the Premier League.
But we have to get used to it and accept it. I am not a good referee, the regret I have is that it is a decision that he made.
Wojciech misjudged the situation and there was no clear opportunity. You sit there and you cannot bring anyone on. I feel frustrated a bit as it was a great football game until half time. After, there was no game.
David Alaba would go on to miss the resulting spot kick, but that doesn't appear to have quelled Wenger's rage, Bayern proceeding to establish their two-goal aggregate lead through Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller.
The Times' Oliver Kay would seem to disagree with Wenger's anger at the red card, saying that Szczesny's sending off was the right call:
Forget about where it happened. Forget about goalscoring opportunity. Just look at Szczesny challenge on Robben. Dangerous play. Red card.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) February 19, 2014
The North Londoners' mood wasn't helped by the fact that in the opening phases of the match, out-of-form Mesut Ozil failed to capitalise upon a penalty of his own, Wenger holding some reservations over his playmaker's approach to the opportunity, per ESPN:
I prefer people run properly at the ball. Everybody has his own style and you have to respect there's not one way of penalty taking. It's his style.
I think he wanted to do so well tonight that it affected him. Missing penalties happens to everybody. You could see, five, ten minutes later, he was still shaking his head.
While Rizzoli's performance might be a case of some contention, Wenger is admirably still willing to admit when his own players are at fault.
The New York Times' Graham Ruthven has even suggested that the £42.5 million summer signing should be dropped as punishment for recent displays:
Ozil needs dropped. He has been a coward tonight. His teammates must be livid with him.— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) February 19, 2014
With that debilitating loss now behind them, Arsenal now face a mountainous challenge in turning the fixture at the Allianz Arena in three weeks' time.
Wenger's men are playing against arguably the best team in the world right now, deserved Champions League title holders for a reason.
The Arsenal boss may hope his criticism of the officials works in his side's favour in the second leg. Certainly Arsenal need all the help they can get.