Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: Referees are protected like lions

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Offside decisions difficult to accept – Wenger

Arsene Wenger has said referees are protected like “lions in the zoo” after saying that bad decisions cost Arsenal in their 2-1 defeat by Manchester City.

Wenger’s side led before Leroy Sane equalised, although replays showed he was offside by the finest of margins.

And David Silva was in an offside position when Raheem Sterling scored the winner, but it was unclear whether he hindered goalkeeper Petr Cech.

“It’s very difficult to accept in a game of that stature,” Wenger said.

“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.”

The Gunners took the lead at the Etihad Stadium thanks to Theo Walcott’s early breakaway goal before City fought back to triumph with two second-half strikes that sent them above Arsenal and into second place.

Asked to clarify his comments about the officials, Wenger said: “I want them to be very well protected, and I want them to be safe, but if they could make the right decisions it would be even better.”

He added: “I can understand City look very happy – I would be as well – but I think the goals are offside.”

Arsenal slipped to fourth, two points behind City and nine behind leaders Chelsea, after suffering their second defeat in six days.

Wenger had also blamed the first loss, at Everton on Tuesday, on the officials – leading Toffees manager Ronald Koeman to mock him for questioning referee Mark Clattenburg’s decision-making.

“It has been an absolutely horrible week,” added Wenger, whose side now have two home games in a row against West Brom on Boxing Day and Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day.

“What is worse is that out of two good performances we got zero points and, out of two leading positions, we lost two games.

“That of course is very disappointing. Before we think about being nine points behind Chelsea, we have to think about why we have not kept a clean sheet.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left)<!–

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “We were caught cold in the second half but I felt as well that we dropped physically in the second half.”

Arsenal had looked in assured form in the first half at the Etihad Stadium but, just like at Goodison Park, they were overpowered after the break.

“I felt we were in control before half-time and it did not look like we could lose the game,” Wenger explained.

“We were caught cold in the second half but I felt as well that we dropped physically in the second half.

“I think that is because of the accumulation of games we have played recently, especially away from home – four of the past five have been away.

“We also had one day less recovery than everyone else before we played at Everton. I felt there was plenty of big teams who don’t play in Europe who could have played on Tuesday.”

‘Seven points is a huge distance’

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Man City still ‘far away’ from Guardiola’s target

City’s victory was a significant one for their manager Pep Guardiola, who was heavily criticised for his side’s performance in their 4-2 defeat by Leicester last weekend but has seen them respond with two successive home wins.

“The players have given a lot and it means a lot to beat one of the best teams after a good comeback,” Guardiola said. “We dominated, and the way we played was the way we have been looking for.

“Since 17 September (a 4-0 win over Bournemouth) we have won just one league game here, against Watford on Wednesday, when there have been games we have deserved more. This time we won and that is why we are so happy.

“Seven points is a huge distance, and when a team gets 11 victories in row you just have to say congratulations but at least we are up there to fight for the title in the last part of the season.”

City’s next games are both on the road, at Hull on Boxing Day and against Liverpool on New Year’s Eve.

Guardiola’s Indian sign over Wenger

  • City won a Premier League game they were losing at half-time for the first time since November 2012 (v Tottenham).
  • Arsenal have lost three games from leading positions this season, more than they did in the whole of 2015-16 (2).
  • The Gunners have lost back-to-back Premier League games having been leading for the first time since January 2012 (v Fulham and Swansea).
  • Guardiola has yet to lose a home game against Wenger in any competition (W4 D1).
  • Sane became the sixth German player to score a Premier League goal for City – more than any other club has provided.
  • Since joining Arsenal, Sanchez has had a hand in 59 Premier League goals (41 goals, 18 assists). Only Sergio Aguero (60 goals, 10 assists) has been involved in more in that time.
  • Sterling scored his first Premier League goal in nine games, since netting against Swansea in September.
  • Cech has gone eight Premier League games without a clean sheet for the first time in his career.

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