Barely 24 hours after the Gunners boss was charged for his furious reaction to a late penalty against his side at West Brom, another spot-kick proved the turning point as Chelsea held Arsenal at the Emirates.
It was a game that had everything in it – two goalkeepers in excellent form, Jack Wilshere scoring a cracking goal when he arguably shouldn’t have still been on the pitch, numerous mistakes in both teams’ defences that went unpunished and a controversial penalty call.
It was the first of a trilogy of matches to be played between London’s top brass in January and it served up superb entertainment for supporters and neutrals alike.
One man who didn’t enjoy it as much was Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
‘Farcical’ decision to award Hazard penalty
The Premier League’s longest-serving manager saw his team’s advantage nullified in contentious circumstances at a crucial stage in the game. Barely four minutes after Wilshere had given Gunners the lead, Hector Bellerin appeared to catch Eden Hazard on the heel when the pair challenged for a ball in the Arsenal box, leaving the Belgian sprawled on the ground in apparent agony.
Replays showed that Bellerin had only made contact with the sole of Hazard’s boot but referee Anthony Taylor, after a moment’s hesitation, pointed to the spot. The Chelsea number 10 converted with aplomb, and although Arsenal ultimately rallied to a draw, the penalty had a telling impact on the outcome.
Wenger, who has until Friday to respond to a charge of misconduct towards match officials during Arsenal’s stalemate against West Brom, couldn’t hide his anger this time either, describing the decision to award Chelsea the penalty as “farcical”.
“We were first on the scoresheet and after that we again got a farcical decision,” the Frenchman ranted to Sky Sports. It looked like, mentally, we were shot and we could have lost the game but we had the resources to come back to 2-2. In the end, maybe it’s a fair result.
“We know what we get. Look since the start of the season; it is what we have to take. We cannot influence that. You ask me if it’s a penalty, I say it’s a farcical decision. You can give ten penalties like that per game.
“You can only do one thing – to continue to play the way we want to play and hope that, at some stage, things will go for us.”
FA may come down hard on veteran manager
The laws of the game clearly state that a manager shouldn’t publicly question the integrity of match officials no matter how aggrieved they may feel about match decisions.
As highly respected as Wenger is in England, this latest verbal tirade, along with his similar transgression at West Brom, means that the FA will have no choice but to impose the toughest possible sanctions on the veteran Arsenal manager.