Arsene Wenger says Chelsea's Ramires dived to win penalty
Published 21/01/2013 | 10:39
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger accused Ramires of diving to win Chelsea’s crucial first-half penalty on Sunday.
Ramires was brought down by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny inside the area in the 15th minute here, but replays showed that his right foot had made contact with Szczesny’s leg rather than the other way around.
Frank Lampard’s penalty proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Asked whether Szczesny was lucky only to receive a yellow card for the challenge from referee Martin Atkinson, Wenger replied: “Yes, I was surprised. But he [Atkinson] could have given Ramires a yellow card as well.”
Indeed, Wenger was displeased by both Chelsea goals, pointing out that a foul on Francis Coquelin by Ramires in the build-up to Juan Mata’s opener was not spotted.
“We were unlucky because there was a free kick for the first goal, and it wasn’t a penalty [for the second goal],” he said.
“I don’t understand. The referee gave a lot of free kicks today, and some much less [serious] than the Coquelin one. It’s frustrating. It doesn’t mean we should have conceded the goal, but in the big games these decisions have big implications.”
Ramires suggested to Sky Sports after the game that the challenge on Coquelin had been a foul, but added: “Today was very important for us, firstly to keep going and try to reduce the gap to Manchester United and Manchester City.
"The other thing is to play well in front of our supporters. They were nervous, and after the last game [a 2-2 draw at home to Southampton] I think they were very happy today.”
Wenger was left to rue another poor start, following last Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City. Just two of their last 12 league goals have come in the first half, and he warned that Arsenal would miss out on Champions League qualification for the first time under his leadership if they continued to drop points.
“We have lost two big games in the last week, and that’s very damaging for us,” he said. “We cannot afford to drop points any more if we want to be in the top four. That’s a concern. It was similar to last week. In the big games, once you start 2-0 down, it’s very difficult.
“First of all, Chelsea played well. I feel we were not well-positioned on the pitch. We were stretched, gave them too much room to play, and didn’t defend tightly enough. We were always allowing them to play wherever they wanted.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benítez claimed that his side were finally back on track after a mixed run of results.
“We were creating a lot of chances at home in the last few games, but not winning,” he said. “We were controlling the games and doing well. But today we had a lot of chances in the first half, were on top of them, controlling the game. Even in the second half we had situations on the counter-attack where we could have scored another.”
Fernando Torres struggled again, and Benítez suggested that new signing Demba Ba would be given opportunities to start up front. “When you have one striker for a month and a half and can’t change, it’s very difficult,” he said. “When you have two, you can manage.”