Friday 15 December 2017

Martinez 'let down' as key calls go against Wigan

Wigan 0
Arsenal 1

Steve Tongue

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is such a nice man that even his complaints are made in the most measured, almost apologetic terms.

Others may rage about perceived injustices inflicted by referees on smaller clubs – the name Pulis comes to mind – but Martinez treats it all merely as a fact of a hard-knock life.

His frustration was nevertheless clear after three key penalty decisions favoured Arsenal at the DW Stadium, condemning Wigan to a sixth defeat in eight games and a place in the bottom three for Christmas.

"We've been at the end of bad decisions," he said. "That happens. You need to get through it, you can't moan about it and we need to start picking points up and make sure we affect it as much as we can.

"I wouldn't like to be a referee – it's the worst job on the pitch. You'll always upset someone, but teams like ourselves don't get those 50-50 decisions. If it happens in the other box it should be given as well. That's when you feel a little bit let down."

What Martinez meant was that, if the attacking team are to be given the benefit of any doubt when Theo Walcott goes down under a challenge from Jean Beausejour, then the defending team should also be punished when Kieran Gibbs raises an arm and deflects away a shot by Jordi Gomez.

In other circumstances, Thomas Vermaelen could have been pulled up for blocking another shot by Gomez, who might then have gone down as the most influential 89th-minute substitute in history.

No referee was going to award two penalties in a minute for those near-identical incidents, but Wigan deserved a chance to equalise after Mikel Arteta's successful spot-kick.

Referee Jon Moss did commit one notable error against Arsenal by booking Jack Wilshere for a perfectly good tackle, the England midfielder having slid in on Shaun Maloney with the determination that Arsene Wenger characterised as having been crucial in winning a game in which his team were less fluent than usual.

"I like Wilshere," he said. "After 25 minutes you look at him and he is dirty from top to bottom."

It is not the quality most usually associated with any modern Arsenal player but perhaps there is a lesson there. (© Independent News Service)

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