Arsene Wenger is continuing his all out war on referees as Arsenal conceded yet another penalty against Chelsea, which Wenger has declared was ‘farcical’, even though the video clearly shows Hector Bellerin’s kick hitting Eden Hazard’s leg. Even Thierry Henry admitted that if there is contact then it is clear. “He doesn’t touch the ball, he connects with him, so it’s a penalty,”
Bellerin himself did not deny the charge: “He’s always very quick in the box,” Bellerin admitted. “I saw the ball in the air and I tried to challenge for it. We both went for the ball at the same time and the referee thought it was a penalty, so we’ll have to see the replay.”
Some people may think that Hazard made a meal of it, but the fact remains that the Belgian was kicked, with the ball nowhere near the defender, and it was clearly in the penalty area. I don’t think it could be considered even a 50/50 decision where Wenger could ‘call the ref’s integrity into question’ and it certainly could not be called ‘farcical’ and be used as evidence of a vendetta against Arsenal by the officials.
But the penalty given to West Brom last week is a different matter, where Wenger is totally right to complain about Mike Dean’s decision, and the boss was adamant that he will defend himself against the FA Charge when asked. “Sorry? 100 per cent.” Wenger replied. “You can listen to every interview I said, and I stick to everything I said without any problem. I am 35 years in football, I know what I say after the game and I stand up for what I said. No problem.”
Wenger is right to contest that, but calling every single penalty decision against us as proof that there is a hidden agenda is surely taking conspiracy theories just a bit too far. If anything it is Wenger’s over-the-top reaction to last night’s decision could be considered farcical by many people.