Roberto Mancini claimed last night that referee Mark Clattenburg had got it wrong in his crucial decision to send off Dedryck Boyata in the fifth minute – the moment which turned a match that Arsenal won 3-0 against the 10 men of Manchester City.
Mancini said that Marouane Chamakh, brought down by Boyata with no further defender between him and goal, had knocked the ball on too far ahead for it to be classed as a goalscoring opportunity. "I don't agree with the referee," Mancini said. "You must respect the rules. Against Newcastle we had a clear chance to score because Carlos [Tevez] was in the box with a clear chance to score and it was a yellow card.
"[Yesterday] the striker touched the ball but it was probably going to the goalkeeper and the referee sent him off. I don't agree with the referee. This is my opinion. I thought that if there are rules, it's always the last man if there is a clear opportunity to score it's a red card. I think when Chamakh touched the ball it was going to the goalkeeper."
Without Boyata, the City manager was forced into a hasty re-organisation of his team, bringing Yaya Touré back into the centre of his side's defence.
"Against Arsenal it is difficult to play 11 against 11," Mancini said. "But ten against 11 is very hard. It is my opinion that if we had played 11 versus 11 we would have won this game and I am very proud of my players because I think they did very well."
Arsenal's goals from Samir Nasri, Alex Song and substitute Nicklas Bendtner meant that they went to second place in the Premier League, ahead of Manchester United and Manchester City on goal difference.
There was no reference to the Wayne Rooney saga at City yesterday – after a week in which the United striker took his club to the brink over contract negotiations, with his team's cross-city rival touted as his most likely destination. Only the banner proclaiming the ground to be a "Shrek-free zone" offered any dig at Rooney.
For Arsène Wenger yesterday's victory was the first in the last ten games against that group of title rivals comprising City, United and current leaders Chelsea. The Arsenal manager said that the performance demonstrated that his team had "matured".
"I mean that in terms of negotiating the difficulties of the game which means not getting a red card and keeping the ball under control," Wenger said.
"I cannot explain why [they have not beaten one of that group of three in the last ten] but it is true. In some games we were close to winning and lost. At Chelsea we lost 2-0 and watching the game again it was difficult to understand how we lost. I hope this result will give us belief and confidence."
There were six bookings – four of them for Arsenal – as well as Boyata's red card and Wenger said he warned his players at half-time not to get sent off. It was Arsenal's first clean sheet away from home in the Premier League since 27 January.Reuse content