Monday 22 January 2018

Clattenburg blunder helps relieved Wenger stop the rot

Arsenal 2 Hull City 0

On the double: Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez Photo: Reuters
On the double: Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez Photo: Reuters

Arsene Wenger has intimated Arsenal finally got the "luck" they deserved, with the way Alexis Sanchez scored in the crisis-alleviating 2-0 home win over Hull City, as Andy Robertson revealed that referee Mark Clattenburg had apologised to Marco Silva's players for the incident.

In what had been an anxious Emirates Stadium after two successive defeats, to Watford and then Chelsea, Arsenal got back on track after a Hull clearance on the line cannoned off the Chilean's upward-pointing hand after 34 minutes to go in. That immediately set Arsenal on their way, and Sanchez then later sealed the win with a 90th-minute penalty, and ended what had been a tough fortnight for Wenger.

However, the reality is that Hull defended nowhere near as well as they have against other top-six sides, and Arsenal probably did enough to deserve a win, at least in the first half.

That is all the more impressive because this fixture seemed to have so many of the ingredients to really heighten that pressure on Wenger.

The Gunners boss was visibly elated after the game, but did get a little prickly with questions about the nature of the goal, pointing to how a referee decision benefiting them was the opposite of moments like Chelsea's opening goal in last week's 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Leroy Sane's strike in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

"I am responsible for enough, for many things, but not for the referee's decisions. So I feel sorry for Hull. I feel that we had as well to cope recently with some decisions where you didn't ask me this question. I am sorry. I want the right decisions to be made…"

When it was put to Wenger he had been asked about Chelsea's goal, where Hector Bellerin had to go off after scorer Marcos Alonso's elbow had collided with his head, he responded: "I am sorry for that, then.

"But there are some other goals that we conceded, like at Man City that nobody said it was offside."

Earlier on, Robertson had revealed that Clattenburg had apologised to Hull for the decision at half-time.

"Yeah, it was handball," Robertson said.

"When we came out at half-time, the referee's apologised to us and said there was handball so he's obviously looked at it at half-time and seen he was in the wrong.

"It happened so quick that it's a tough one for the ref, you've got to kind of feel sorry for him and that, but at the end of the day those decisions don't really go for you when you come to these big stadiums and that's killed us at the end of the day.

"If we go in 0-0 at half-time I think we would have come away with some points.

"He says he wasn't 100 per cent sure. Obviously we can argue then that he shouldn't have given the goal if he wasn't sure but I think he argued it the other way that if he wasn't sure then he had to give the goal.

"That's the explanation he gave us, obviously not many referees admit they're wrong so it's good but it doesn't make it any better."

Hull City manager Silva meanwhile said it was "the story" of the game, but was impressed with his side's second-half display and response to going behind.


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