Arsene Wenger Talks Francis Coquelin, Arsenal Regrets After 2-2 Draw with Spurs

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2016

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted Francis Coquelin deserved his marching orders when he was sent off for a second yellow card against Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane, but he said Eric Dier should have received the same treatment for Spurs. 

The Frenchman told BT Sport (h/t James Benge of the London Evening Standard) Arsenal have "big regrets" about the game after the Gunners led 1-0 in the second half:

We have big regrets because it looked while we were in control when we were down to 10 men... It’s difficult to take.

We told Coquelin at half-time because he already had a yellow. I think Dier deserves a second yellow as well, that could have changed the game.

But overall we have to look at ourselves on that.

Arsenal were steady in the first half of the encounter and snatched a lead through an audacious flick from Aaron Ramsey.

However, Coquelin slid through Harry Kane after the break, prompting a needless second yellow card that changed the destiny of the match.

Toby Alderweireld and Kane both scored in a two-minute period to flip the game on its head, but 10-man Arsenal grabbed a point after Alexis Sanchez scuffed his effort beyond goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 76th minute.

Dier controversially stayed on the pitch after hauling Olivier Giroud to the floor, but the referee refused Arsenal's claims for a second yellow.

The Daily Mail's Oliver Holt was not impressed by the Arsenal midfielder's red card, which turned the match in Spurs' favour:

Wenger was pleased with how his side saved themselves from defeat but said he is not sure where Arsenal's title challenge now stands, per BT Sport (h/t Benge).

“I never questioned the character of this team,” said Wenger. “When you don’t win and you lose you have to accept [those questions] and respond on the pitch. I think we did that today in a very convincing way. I don’t know what this means for the title race, we just have to win our games again.”

The draw leaves Arsenal three points behind their north London rivals and gives Leicester City the chance to pull eight points clear of the Gunners on Saturday evening. 

Arsenal fans will be relieved to have not suffered the indignation of a derby defeat, but their team were often second best at the Lane.

Spurs will be disappointed to have not ended the Gunners' title challenge on Saturday, as they edged the second half after Coquelin's dismissal and Kane's fine curling strike.

Wenger cannot be confident going into the final matches of the campaign, as his squad looks worn and tired. Both Spurs and Leicester appear more determined and focused, as the Gunners once again labour through the important phase of a title challenge.   

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