'Arbeloa went to the ground as if I put a knife in him'

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Emmanuel Adebayor's red card provoked a furious response yesterday from the Arsenal striker who claimed that Alvaro Arbeloa had gone down "like he had a knife in him". It might have been an unfortunate comparison given that this day was dedicated to Arsenal's teenage charity but it did reflect the anger which the club felt at the decision. Arsène Wenger also described the decision as "unbelievable" despite the fact that Adebayor clearly went in studs-up on Arbeloa, leaving the referee Howard Webb with little option but to give him a second yellow card. The Arsenal man's stamp would have drawn comparisons with Julio Arca's dreadful challenge on Andy Johnson on Saturday had he made contact with Arbeloa's leg.

Adebayor said: "I hope when the referee watches it on the TV, he will see it was a foul but I didn't deserve a card. It was a mistake from him. He said it was for the leg [rather than a flailing arm that caught Arbeloa in the face] but if I don't put my body in there I would never score a goal in this league. We have to protect the ball, which is normal and that's what I tried to do.

"The defender threw himself on the floor as if I put a knife in him. Of course I'm annoyed. We are all here to play and if you win or lose you have to do it with 11. I cannot say he cheated but what he did wasn't fair play at all."

Adebayor will be suspended for Arsenal's crucial Boxing Day game against third-placed Aston Villa and Cesc Fabregas has injured medial ligaments in his knee. The Arsenal captain left the stadium on crutches and could miss up to four weeks. Enraged by Webb's decision, Wenger claimed that his side are treated more harshly than any other by referees. Wenger gave the impression that he thought the decision was for Adebayor catching Arbeloa with his arm rather than the studs-up part of the challenge. The Arsenal manager said sarcastically that he had seen Liverpool's Spanish defender after the game and that he was "black and blue in the face".

Wenger said: "It was a very soft sending-off. We had the 'Be a Gooner, Be a Giver' charity appeal and you cannot say that the referee was a Gooner but he was a giver because he gave us yellow cards we did not deserve. Every week I sit in front of you when we play away from home and you say, 'People get in your faces and you cannot cope with it'. Have you seen anybody sent off? Do you want me to show you our players [and the damage done to them] after the game? It's a joke. Neither booking was justified. It's unbelievable. If he sent off Adebayor, then he should have sent off Keane in the first minute or we have two different rules. It did not cost us the title but it cost us two points. I do not agree with the referee's decision and we would have won the game if the referee had not made those decisions."