Luiz Felipe Scolari appeared to imply last night that Robin van Persie's equalising goal at Stamford Bridge – which was clearly offside – was the result of a conspiracy theory to keep Arsenal in the Premier League title race.
Having broken his vow never to criticise match officials, the Chelsea manager went on to claim that the controversial nature of the goal had "killed my team" and demanded an apology from the referee, Mike Dean.
At first Scolari backed up his claim that the goal – and another offside he fiercely queried, against Salomon Kalou – was somehow the result of wanting to make sure Arsenal's did not fall further behind – "maybe. Two times the same mistake?" he said when asked if it had been intentional before eventually stating that they may have been "two honest mistakes. I think so. Not deliberate. I don't think they [the match officials] came here deliberately to make mistakes to us".
For a while it seemed that Scolari had turned into Jose Mourinho. This was his first response in his press conference: "Look. You listen, the people here listen to me speak about the referee any time? Never. Fifteen times in the Premier League, four or five games in the Champions League, the Carling Cup. I don't say nothing. But today. It's different. I don't want the referee to make something different, but only for him to look in the television and see it was wrong and say sorry. Only this. No more. Because they are not good. They made a mistake. They're not bad. I understand. I don't want three points. I just want 'sorry' because they made a mistake."
Scolari stated that the nature of the goal had also led to his team losing "concentration" but the hard facts are that they have now taken just one point at home against the other so-called Big Four. "I need to say to my players: when we play away, we need to win," he said while admitting he did not know why Chelsea had suffered such an alarming dip. "The training is normal. It's not tiredness," he said.
In terms of a conspiracy, Scolari said: "If we win, we'd have been 13 points ahead of them and the title would have been finished for them. Ok? I want to see this tomorrow about this. If we win, if Arsenal were beaten..." He then tailed off before adding: "If we win, Arsenal is how many points?" Whatever the true intent of his meaning, his anger was clear, even if Scolari said he knew referees were not "God".
He had justification, of course, because the goal should have been ruled out and Scolari should also be applauded because he has, indeed, shown restraint and dignity no matter what the result of the game – and there was a warm embrace yesterday for Arsène Wenger.
The Arsenal manager is his friend, of course, but nevertheless Scolari was generous. "When I lost before is not the problem," he said. "I lost today because one goal is not a goal. Give me more one goal. It's 2-0. Give me one. They [the officials] give one to this team."
Wenger was, understandably, delighted, hailing a "massive win" when his team had appeared beaten and out of the title race. "We had just lost two games unexpectedly and to lose today would have put us 13 points adrift of Chelsea, and that would have been too much," he said.
"It was as well a test of character. We came here with a needed level of confidence, but we showed from the start we have character. We've beaten Manchester United in a convincing way and Chelsea. Seven points [the gap between Arsenal and Chelsea this morning] is still far, but not impossible."
At the end, at the final whistle, the Arsenal players walked over to their supporters, stripped off their shirts and threw them into the crowd. It was an echo of when Chelsea had done the same, away to Blackburn Rovers, in their march to the title in Mourinho's first season in charge – except there were more vests and singlets than waxed chests although one of those who was bare was William Gallas, who stared down the rebukes of the home supporters after a formidable performance.
"William was outstanding today," Wenger, who had raged himself at some of the refereeing decisions, said of the man who has been at the centre of so much controversy, who he stripped of the captaincy and who was returning to the club he left in such fractious circumstances two years ago. "Absolutely amazing. He came out of that period with a lot of credit, for me. His commitment is fantastic. He was outstanding today, just as he was against Kiev. Instead of giving up, he's a fighter."Reuse content