Arsene Wenger Slams 'Scandalous' Referee After Arsenal's 5-1 Defeat to Bayern

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2017

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger looks on during the UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg football match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at The Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES / Ian KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger railed against "scandalous" refereeing after his side were hammered 5-1 by Bayern Munich and knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

The Gunners were winning their last-16 second leg 1-0 as they looked to overturn the 5-1 deficit from the first leg before Laurent Koscielny was sent off early in the second half. Referee Tasos Sidiropoulos initially only gave the French centre-back a yellow card for felling Robert Lewandowski in the penalty area, but he then changed it to red after consulting with one of his assistants.

Arsenal goalscorer Theo Walcott arguably should have won his own penalty in the first half and Wenger was not impressed following the defeat, per Mattias Karen of ESPN FC:

It leaves me very angry, very frustrated. And I think at the moment, because we are in a different period, even more so. I think it's absolutely inexplainable and scandalous.

You look at what happened really, the guy behind the line gives a penalty and on top of that the red card. When the ref had given a yellow, OK we have to take it on the chin—I have to stand up for it.

I will take a lot of criticism, but it doesn't change my mind. I think in the game we have to deal with these kinds of situations, but that doesn't make them right.

The night ended in humiliation again for Arsenal as they capitulated following Koscielny's dismissal; Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa netted before Arturo Vidal's double finished the hosts off.

The north London outfit now hold the ignominious honour of having suffered the worst-ever aggregate defeat by an English side in the Champions League, per Sky Sports Statto:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Arsenal have suffered the biggest agg defeat by an English club in EC/CL history, previous worst was Wolves’ 9-2 agg loss v Barcelona, 1960 https://t.co/jV3sNdg22h

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Remarkably, despite the loss to Bayern being Arsenal's fifth defeat in seven matches in all competitions—a run that has seen them drop out of the Premier League's top four—Wenger was positive about the state of the club afterwards:

The French manager also felt Arsenal produced the performance they wanted against Bayern and blamed the referee for ruining the game, per Karen:

I felt that we produced a performance with the spirit and the pride that we wanted. And after that of course the story finishes badly. We put Bayern under pressure, and we were really unlucky tonight because it was 100 percent a penalty at 1-0 in the first half on Walcott. Check it on television. And in the second half the referee killed the game. After that it was very difficult, but the referee I think was very, very powerful for Bayern tonight.

Lewandowski, not only was it not a penalty, he was offside. And on top it was not a penalty. On top of that he gives us a red card that killed us completely.

Arsenal have now been knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage in seven consecutive seasons.

Since 2011, European minnows Apoel Nicosia have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League more times than Arsenal—the Cypriot outfit lost 8-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the last eight in 2012.

As noted by the Manchester Evening News' James Robson, more often than not Arsenal have been knocked out by some of Europe's biggest clubs—since 2011 they have been ousted three times by Bayern, twice by Barcelona, once by Monaco and once by AC Milan:

James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN

As bad as Arsenal’s Champions League record is - they generally lose to teams you’d expect them to. Is that underachieving?

But that is unlikely to placate disgruntled Arsenal fans, a small minority of whom took part in a protest against Wenger ahead of Tuesday's match at the Emirates:

B/R Football @brfootball

A group of Arsenal fans protest against Arsene Wenger outside the Emirates Stadium ahead of tonight's game vs. Bayern Munich. #AFC https://t.co/hefiQMnVNt

The 67-year-old has rarely, if ever, been under as much pressure in his job since taking the reins at Arsenal in 1996.

Per BBC Sport's Phil McNulty, there was a feeling after Tuesday's defeat that Wenger "may be contemplating the end of the road."

Arsenal returning to the Champions League next season for another shot is far from a certainty given they are fifth in the Premier League.

And, though Arsenal have suffered disappointment in the last 16 many times, nothing has matched the humiliation of 2016-17, even if Wenger felt the referee gave his side little chance. 

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