Bolton Wanderers are furious at what they believe was a change of heart by referee Alan Wiley over William Gallas's studs-up lunge on the Bolton Wanderers midfielder Mark Davies at the Emirates on Wednesday.
Sources at Bolton claim that Wiley told them in the aftermath of the game that the reason he had not punished Gallas was because he had not seen the incident. However, Wiley yesterday told the Football Association that he had indeed seen it – albeit only as two players "stretching" for the ball – but at the time he had not realised the severity of the challenge.
By acknowledging that he had witnessed it, Wiley closed off any possibility of retrospective action against Gallas.
Bolton believe that was a different version of events to the one that the referee gave after the game to their manager, Owen Coyle, who described the Gallas tackle as "akin to assault". They allege that on Wednesday night the referee said he had not seen the tackle which meant that the FA could theoretically have taken action against Gallas.
Bolton are also unhappy at the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, urging his team to keep playing after the Gallas tackle when Davies lay stricken on the ground. Arsenal went up the pitch and scored through Cesc Fabregas to make it 2-2. They went on to win 4-2.
There is also a sense of grievance at Bolton that the general reaction of the Arsenal players and their manager contributed to the jeering that accompanied Davies as the player was taken from the pitch on a stretcher.
If they could, Bolton would challenge Wiley's decision, which effectively halts any FA disciplinary proceedings against Gallas. It is not thought there is any scope for them to go down this path. Davies himself will have further tests today. The damage to his right ankle is not thought to require an operation or a long-term absence from football.
Arsenal's injury problems have deepened with the news that Kieran Gibbs is to miss the rest of the season because he requires surgery on his left foot. The left-back, a graduate of the club's academy, had been very long odds to make England's World Cup squad. He broke his first metatarsal against Standard Liège in November and now requires a bone graft.
Arsenal are also concerned about the fitness of Abou Diaby, who came off late in the game against Bolton with a recurrence of his calf problems. They already have Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere and Robin van Persie out injured.
Wenger said yesterday that Diaby will miss the FA Cup match against Stoke City on Sunday and the league match at Aston Villa next Wednesday. He may be available again for the Manchester United match a week on Sunday. Bacary Sagna is also being troubled by a shoulder problem and is set to sit out the Stoke match.
Andrei Arshavin, who scored the fourth of Arsenal's goals, said that the slender nature of his club's lead at the top of the table – they are ahead of Chelsea on goals scored and have played one more game – made it difficult to think of the Gunners as the leaders. "I think that Chelsea are still top of the table," he said. "They have not played their game [in hand] yet. Let's see what happens then."
Tomas Rosicky said that the next four league games, in which Arsenal face Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool would decide their title credentials. "It's difficult to say [what has changed]," he said. "Since the loss against Chelsea [on 29 November] we started something new again and went on a run. You can see how quickly it can change in this league. Chelsea didn't win a few games after winning here. You have to be consistent and that's what we want to be. Everybody knows that the coming weeks are the critical ones in the whole season and I would say this win [against Bolton] came right on time for the team. For the confidence of the team, it is great."Reuse content