Arsene Wenger has refused to point the finger at Francis Coquelin following our 2-2 draw with Tottenham, despite the defensive midfielder putting us in real trouble after his recklessness saw us reduced to ten men, as reported by IBT.
Tottenham looked the better side in the opening exchanges, but after Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring we were unquestionably in control. We looked far and away the more likely of the two sides to score again, but when Coquelin was sent off early on in the second half things really changed. In a matter of minutes we went from a 1-0 lead to being 2-1 behind, and it looked as though we’d ruined any chances of getting anything out of the game.
Thankfully we salvaged a point thanks to an Alexis Sanchez goal, although we really needed to take all the points at this stage in the campaign.
The manager was pleased with the performance and our attitude following the sending off, and put the blame more on the referee rather than Coquelin himself. He had no qualms about the midfielder being sent off, but felt there was a lack of consistency with the decisions being thrown around by Michael Oliver.
“We showed good attitude and character and I’m happy and proud of our performance and attitude. We refused to lose the game,” Wenger said.
“We have as well big regrets because I could not see how 11 against 11 could have dropped points today. We made a mistake at 1-0 when it was 11 against 11 but even though we had a shock loss and it went to 2-1, we refused to lose the game. We always looked dangerous going forward.
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“I think the referee should come into the press room after the game as well. We are questioned, they should be questioned as well. Then he could give you an answer.
“I didn’t have to say a lot to [Coquelin] him after that tackle. He made a mistake and he knows he made a big mistake. At halftime, we warned him as well and it was a mistake. He wanted to do well and mistimed his tackle and got sent off. You cannot complain about it. I can complain that [Eric] Dier was not sent off. I couldn’t understand that.
“No [Coquelin didn’t let down us]. Let down is a big word. He made a mistake and he has to quickly learn from that because at a top level it is full commitment and 100% in all the duels in a controlled way. He got a yellow card because he made a mistake to go down on the tackle.”
While Arsenal fans may see things a little differently and will understandably be disappointed with Coquelin, it’s hard to deny Wenger has a point with his comments about the referee. Dier most certainly should have been sent off for his shirt tug on Olivier Giroud, with the midfielder preventing a counter-attack at a crucial point in the game. The referee doled out bookings for similar offenses throughout the game, so how Dier wasn’t given a second yellow is a mystery.
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Wenger is known for his unwillingness to criticise his players, and usually stands by them through thick and thin. Sometimes it seems like the team could do with a bit of criticism, but that’s just not Wenger’s philosophy.