| 5.3°C Dublin

Martinez slams referees over 'double standards'

Roberto Martinez dislikes criticising officials. Throughout his playing career, and now as Wigan manager, he has avoided stirring controversy, concentrating steadfastly on the action.

As an ardent student of the game, a respected television pundit and one of the sharpest minds in the Premier League, you know that when he speaks out, it is unlikely to be an empty soundbite or impulsive rant.

Martinez claimed after his team's controversial defeat at Stamford Bridge that a double standard operates in the Premier League with regard to officiating, where smaller teams such as his own -- "little Wigan", as he referred to them in his post-match press conference -- have decisions given against them that would not be given against bigger sides.

He also said that officials were more likely to make mistakes when refereeing Wigan games because there were "no repercussions".

Both Chelsea scorers, Branislav Ivanovic and Juan Mata, who may face Fuham tonight, were in offside positions when the ball reached them.

In the desperate scrap to cling onto the Premier League carousel, every decision, every marginal call, every error multiplies in importance and Martinez fears that the errors made by assistant referee Dave Bryan could ultimately prove the difference between survival and relegation.

Chelsea's win denied Wigan a point that would have lifted them out of the relegation zone for the first time since December.

Instead, they remain 19th, still hovering above the trap door with games leaking away. Next up is a home date with Manchester United on Wednesday night.

Wigan's indignation at officials did not start at Stamford Bridge. In December, forward Conor Sammon was given a straight red card by Phil Dowd against Manchester United for a perfectly fair challenge on Michael Carrick. The previous month, Blackburn's Junior Hoilett scored in a 3-3 draw after referee Andre Marriner failed to spot that Morten Gamst Pedersen had dribbled the ball straight from a corner.

Martinez claimed that both Dowd and Marriner had later apologised to him, but joked: "I would swap the three apologies for one point."

Wigan's proud record of being the only club to have played in the top flight and never been relegated from it is under threat.

"I'm not going to blame those decisions for the position we're in," Martinez said. "We have to take responsibility for where we are, but small margins are very important.

"All I want is to have strong referees. I just feel it's a lot easier to make mistakes against us because there are no repercussions. There is not going to be a backlash against your decision."

After Ivanovic had turned home Raul Meireles's cross to put Chelsea ahead on the hour, substitute Mohamed Diame's superb left-footed strike looked to have condemned Chelsea to a disappointing home draw.

However, Mata, also clearly offside , scored in the third minute of injury time to give Chelsea the points.

Chelsea's John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole are all in contention to return tonight against Fulham. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Fulham v Chelsea,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent