Farcical penalty or prejudiced Wenger?

After Wenger's latest tirade, former ref Poll believes Frenchman has an agenda against match officials

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described the decision to award Eden Hazard a penalty during his side's 2-2 English Premier League draw with Chelsea yesterday morning (Singapore time) as "farcical".

Hazard's foot was caught by defender Hector Bellerin in the area and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.

The Belgian playmaker converted to level the match at 1-1 four minutes after Jack Wilshere's 63rd-minute opener. Marcos Alonso put Chelsea ahead on 84 minutes before Bellerin equalised in injury time.

Wenger bemoaned the penalty decision, which came after West Bromwich Albion were given a controversial late spot-kick against Arsenal last Sunday that helped them secure a draw.

He said: "We showed great mental resources (to draw) and got a farcical decision again on the penalty, but we knew that (could happen) as well before (the game), so we have to deal with that.

"At some stage in football, you have to stand up to the referee's decisions."

Bellerin, himself, was less sure than his manager that it wasn't a penalty, saying: "Hazard is very quick in the box and the ball was in the air and I went to challenge for it, but we both got there at the same time and the referee thought it was a penalty.

"We will have to see the replay to see what it was like."

Hazard, meanwhile, replied: "We don't need a replay, yes it's a penalty."

Wenger was charged by the Football Association for comments he made to the officials after the draw at West Brom and plans to contest the decision, reported Reuters.

"I have been in football for 35 years, I know what I said after the game, I stand up for what I said," he said.

Despite Wenger's conviction that referee Taylor made the wrong call, English football pundits Gary Neville, Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher, as well as former referees Graham Poll and Dermot Gallagher, unanimously backed Taylor's penalty award.

Gunners legend Henry told Sky Sports: "He (Bellerin) doesn't touch the ball, he connects with him (Hazard), so it's a penalty."

Former EPL and Fifa referee Poll agreed with the Frenchman, adding that Wenger has "got it in for referees".

He wrote in his column for The Daily Mail: "(It) was the right call.


"It was a clumsy tackle and I wondered if Arsene Wenger would criticise his defender.

"But clearly he's still got it in for referees."

Fellow former EPL and Fifa referee Dermot Gallagher had a similar assessment, telling Sky Sports: " When you see the incident, the clue is the ball: Bellerin doesn't get the ball, and once you don't get the ball in that situation, he's caught Hazard on the inside of the boot and therefore he's duty bound to give a penalty.

"Does Hazard exaggerate? I don't think he has time."

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville initially sided with Wenger, but on second viewing conceded the referee had made the right call. He told Sky Sports: "If you go for a challenge like that as a defender and don't make contact with the ball, you're asking for trouble."

Neville, Carragher and Poll were also unequivocal in opining that instead of berating Taylor, Wenger should be thankful he did not send off Wilshere for a dive around 10 minutes before he scored.

The Englishman was already on a yellow when he went down on the edge of the Chelsea box following a coming together with Andreas Christensen, but the referee waved play on.

Said Neville: "It's quite theatrical from Jack Wilshere. It did look like a dive."

Carragher agreed, telling Sky Sports: "He should have been sent off... He's fortunate that the referee is blocked by (Cesc) Fabregas, he hasn't seen the foul or the dive."

Poll shared that view, writing: "Wilshere should have been sent off for an outrageous dive, but luckily for him, referee Anthony Taylor's view was blocked by a number of players...

"Knowing he was on a yellow card, he was stupid to dive over Andreas Christensen in the second half... With the spotlight on diving, it was a foolish act."