Ronald Koeman in war of words with Arsene Wenger after Arsenal manager takes swipe at referee Mark Clattenburg
Everton manager Ronald Koeman accused Arsène Wenger of being a sore loser after ending Arsenal’s 14-match unbeaten run.
Wenger said he was disappointed in the performance of referee Mark Clattenburg as his side succumbed to a late Ashley Williams header.
The Arsenal manager said the corner leading to the 86th-minute winner should not have been given, suggesting his side has fallen foul of Clattenburg’s calls in earlier fixtures. “Of course, it was no corner. You can see it was no corner,” said Wenger. “I am really disappointed in Mr Clattenburg. He is in a really good position to see it and it is not the first time we are really unlucky with his decisions.”
Those remarks riled Koeman, who pointedly argued his sides are never given any credit from his opposite number when they beat Arsenal. “I am not surprised about Wenger and his comments,” Koeman responded. “It is the third time in a row I won at home against Arsenal and three times in a row it was about the referee.”
Koeman then added sarcastically: “Sorry Arsenal. We won through the ref.”
Wenger did acknowledge his side buckled under the physical pressure after surrendering their early lead. “We have to look at ourselves. Everton made it very physical,” said Wenger. “From then on they disturbed our game. We didn’t take our chances although we didn’t have too many.
“We lost a bit of urgency when we were 1-0 up and in control. We started to lose some balls. They made the game physical. They played a cup game. That is a big difference from what I saw recently from them. I don’t think they can repeat that in every game.”
The Arsenal manager rejected suggestions the performance was an extension of the trend of recent seasons, his players struggling to match the physicality of opponents over the course of a season.
“We have been nine months unbeaten away from home,” he countered. “You can lose a game, especially in an atmosphere like that. We played five or six games away from home. We played the Champions League. We had a difficult game on Saturday.”
For Koeman, victory provided much-needed respite after a difficult period, his side responding to his demand to play with more intensity. He said: “The key was how we played after 20 minutes. That was the team we like and the fans like – with aggression, pressing, playing football and going for it. But how we started? It was really poor at the beginning. There was no aggression. We had no pressing on the ball.
“You need to win battles, to run, to go – and you need a bit of luck like what happened in the last 30 seconds. It was a fantastic atmosphere today and, if you show that, it is difficult to beat Everton at Goodison. I hope the players learn what happened in this game.”
After restoring Ross Barkley, Koeman was rewarded with the youngster’s finest performance since the Dutchman took over.
“Everybody knows Ross can be a fantastic player. He was strong, aggressive, kept the ball in midfield and like that normally he will start,” Koeman said.
The only sour note for the hosts was an injury-time sending off for captain Phil Jagielka, ruling him out of Monday’s Merseyside derby.