Ferguson fears referees could hand the title back to Chelsea

Manchester United manager attacks officials in the wake of leaders' 1-0 defeat to Arsenal

Sir Alex Ferguson raised the temperature ahead of next weekend's crucial contest with Chelsea at Old Trafford when he claimed referees could be handing the Premier League title to the holders.

United's lead over Chelsea is now just three points, and should the Londoners win Sunday's match they would go top on goal difference.

With one eye on that game, Ferguson launched a trademark tirade at referees in general after yesterday's 1-0 defeat by Arsenal, and said he feared Chelsea will get a soft decision in next weekend's potential title decider.

Ferguson also noted that Chelsea were awarded a "ghost goal" against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday even though Frank Lampard's shot did not cross the line, and Salomon Kalou also appeared to be offside before he scored their winner.

The abrasive Manchester United manager said: "Obviously, it gives Chelsea a major chance now and that's what happens. They got great decisions [on Saturday] for them. We never seem to get these kind of decisions. They seem to be getting them. They got one to win the league at Old Trafford last season so that's a worry."

His claims of a conspiracy theory made him sound like Jose Mourinho, who moaned that Barcelona get all the refereeing decisions following Real Madrid's 2-0 defeat last week. But Ferguson needs to be careful after he was given a five-match touchline ban in March for disparaging claims about referee Martin Atkinson.

For more than a year now Ferguson has been complaining that Chelsea get the big decisions when the two teams meet. He was unhappy about John Terry's winner at Stamford Bridge in November 2009, claimed Didier Drogba was offside before he scored the decisive goal in Chelsea's 2-1 victory at Old Trafford last April; and he incurred the five-game ban for questioning the integrity of Atkinson after he failed to dismiss Chelsea's David Luiz in their 2-1 victory in March. One oversight, however, is a blatant penalty that should have gone Chelsea's way when Ramires was fouled by Patrice Evra in last month's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The United manager was disgruntled his team had not been awarded a late penalty yesterday when Michael Owen was caught by Gaël Clichy, but he played down the blatant handball in the first half by Nemanja Vidic that was also missed by the match officials.

"I've seen the two incidents. The first one was a definite flick of the hand from Vidic but it's very difficult to see that one," Ferguson told Sky. "But we all had a clear view of the second one. It was a clear penalty kick. We're not going to get decisions like that in a major game. They are too big a game. We don't seem to get these decisions.

"It balances out in that respect but I think it was difficult to see that one [Vidic's handball] – [Robin] Van Persie was the only one who complained. But the one at the end, Clichy knew, he put his hands up in horror."

Aaron Ramsey decided the match when he applied a simple finish to a flowing counter-attack in the 56th minute, with his first goal for Arsenal since his leg was broken in two places in February 2010 by Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross.

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said: "I am very happy for Ramsey, when you think his incident happened 14 months ago and only now he looks just to be back to his best."

Van Persie rubbed salt in United's wounds by questioning their desire. "In the end I think we played better. We wanted it more. They played just on the counter-attack so in the end, I think, a fair result," he said.

Arsenal were without captain Cesc Fabregas, who was ruled out with a thigh injury he had picked up during a training session on Saturday. In addition Samir Nasri, with a hamstring injury, did not return for the second half.

Wenger said: "Samir has a small hamstring problem, Cesc has a kick on his thigh that disrupted some fibres. We will know on Tuesday if he can practise again. Cesc has a chance to play on Sunday."

Schalke crash to Bayern

* Schalke prepared for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg trip to Manchester United with a 4-1 defeat at Bayern Munich on Saturday. Arjen Robben's sixth-minute opener was cancelled out by a Holger Badstuber own goal before goals from Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez put Bayern 3-1 ahead after 19 minutes, Müller later adding his second.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?