Football

'Refs are protected like lions in the zoo'

Wenger criticises official Atkinson for allowing City's two 'offside' goals to stand

Arsene Wenger's at it again.

The Arsenal boss complained about referee Martin Atkinson after his side surrendered a lead to lose 2-1 at Manchester City in the Premier League yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Gunners surrendered a lead for the second time in a week as second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling transformed a tight clash after Theo Walcott had struck early.

Wenger, who was criticised by Everton manager Ronald Koeman for airing gripes about officials after a 2-1 loss last week, felt offsides were missed in the moves for both City's goals at the Etihad Stadium.

Replays suggested Leroy Sane might have been marginally offside before scoring the equaliser, and Wenger also raised question marks over the positioning of David Silva as Raheem Sterling struck the winner.

I want them to be safe but, if they could make the right decisions, it would be even better.Arsene Wenger on referees, particularly Martin Atkinson who officiated the match

FURY

Wenger said: "We conceded two offside goals which is very difficult to accept in a game of that stature but, as it is well known, the referees are protected very well like the lions in the zoo, so we have to live with those decisions."

Asked for clarification on his remarks, Wenger said: "I want them to be very well protected, I want them to be safe but, if they could make the right decisions, it would be even better.

"But it is too long a subject. I do not want to make referees the subject of the press conference."

Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech, who was beaten at his near post as Sterling cut inside from the right to strike the winner, was also unhappy about the winning goal.

Cech told Sky Sports: "There were players in front of the goal so I didn't see the shot and there were people running across.

"I don't know if one of them was David Silva or not but, as I said, I didn't see the ball because it was behind the players."

SETBACK

The result left Arsenal in fourth, nine points behind leaders Chelsea, while City moved two points ahead of the Gunners and up to second in the table.

Wenger bemoaned his players' performance as well, with the defeat coming after a similar reverse at Goodison Park.

The Frenchman said: "I felt we were in control and it didn't look like we could lose the game.

"We stopped them from creating chances and they looked a bit short of ideas to create chances.

"But we were caught cold in the second half and we dropped physically. Maybe we dropped a bit mentally when they equalised.

"They killed the game well, they have experience. They slowed it down and it was difficult to create the flow."

Wenger confirmed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came on in the second half only to be taken off again 13 minutes later, had suffered a "muscular injury". - PA SPORT

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