| 2.5°C Dublin

Angry Wenger lays blame for defeat at referee's door

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger last night hit out at referee Lee Probert for changing the course of the game at Fulham.

Wenger was furious after the match, arguing that neither of Johan Djourou's challenges were worthy of a yellow card and that his side should have been awarded a penalty for Philippe Senderos' first-half challenge on Gervinho.

"The referee influenced the game in completely the wrong way, in my opinion," Wenger said. "We cannot influence that. We had a good first half and in the second half we were tired in the last 10 minutes. We lost the game because we were down to 10 men.

"The first yellow card was not a yellow card. The second yellow card was a foul for us. There was a 100pc penalty for us in the first half and that is that.

"In the end, I think it was very unlucky to lose a game with 10 men. That makes a massive difference when you played 48 hours before. It is too difficult."


Wenger also apportioned some blame on Fulham, whom he claimed had attempted to get Djourou sent off.

"After Djourou got the first card, every time he intervened they went down to get him a second yellow and he did nothing at all," he said.

"I saw it coming, you know. When they brought on (Kerim) Frei they looked for a second yellow card on Djourou and they got it."

Wenger added: "I do not need to make stories for newspapers. I tell you the game I have seen. I don't care about the rest."

Fulham boss Martin Jol laughed off Wenger's comments.

"All I did was put Kerim Frei on the flank and he is an exciting player. He wanted to go one-v-one all the time and that was probably the problem for Djourou. He probably could have had a second booking before that, to be fair.

"I am relieved after any game when we get the points on the board -- all the more against a top side like Arsenal.

"We did it before against Liverpool and Chelsea, so we have some players with excellent quality who can make the difference, as you saw.

"We didn't play particularly well in the first 25 minutes. We played a bit differently in central midfield, we tried to screen and play zonally.

"After that, we matched them up in midfield and that gave them a problem."

Jol was quick to praise Zamora's part in the performance after the match, the striker having recovered from an Achilles problem to volley home the winner.

The pair's relationship has come under scrutiny over recent months, but Jol was pleased to see him hit the headlines for the right reasons.

"It's always the same," the Dutchman said. "If you are number nine at any club and can make the difference, I'm very happy. I love my players, especially when they score goals."

Irish Independent