Wenger critical of referee for giving Stoke match-winning penalty in 1-0 defeat
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was subtly critical of match referee Michael Jones after he gave away “a nice gift” to Stoke City in the form a match-winning penalty. The Gunners suffered a massive setback in their race for the Premier League title after losing 1-0 to Stoke City at Brittania Stadium on Saturday.
The defeat means Arsenal are now four points behind the Premier League leaders Chelsea. Jon Walters stepped for the spot kick after Arsenal center back Laurent Koscielny was booked for handling the ball inside the box late in the second half of the game.
Wenger believes Jones made a “generous penalty” decision in favor of Stoke City, a decision that took away crucial points from the Gunners. Wenger pointed out that Koscielny was too close to the ball, hence had no reaction time at all to move his arm out of the way.
“It was a nice gift from the referee,” Wenger said. “Koscielny is one yard away. He has no time. How can he take his hand away? He has no chance. It was a generous penalty. I can show you 10 videos of that situation when a penalty isn't given.”
Wenger also confessed that losing to Stoke City could cost Arsenal the title. The French boss called the defeat a “massive setback” as Chelsea had went further ahead on the Premier League table after picking up a 3-1 win over Fulham on the road.
“To win a title -- when you're expected to perform, you have to perform. It's as simple as that,” Wenger continued. “It is not a slight worry, it is a massive setback. We didn't create enough and they defended very well. Our performance today wasn't good enough. We are unlucky to lose this game, but our offensive game was poor.”
Mesut Ozil’s disappearance from the starting lineup was a concern for many Gunners. Wenger defended his decision to leave the out of form German midfielder on the bench suggesting that he needed time to rest.
Ozil didn’t come on the pitch till the 66th minute in the game when he replaced compatriot Lukas Podolski. Ozil was also left out from the squad for Arsenal’s victory against Sunderland last weekend.
The Germany international has been under scrutiny since missing the opportunity to score from the spot in the 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the last-16 of the Champions League.