Martinez: Small clubs don't get 50-50 calls
Wigan Athletic 0 Arsenal 1
The Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is such a nice man that even his complaints are made in the most measured, almost apologetic terms. Others may rage about perceived injustices inflicted by referees on smaller clubs – the name Pulis comes to mind – but Martinez treats it all merely as a fact of a hard-knock life.
His frustration was nevertheless clear after three key penalty decisions favoured Arsenal in their 1-0 win at the DW Stadium on Saturday, condemning Wigan to a sixth defeat in eight games and a place in the bottom three for Christmas.
"We've been at the end of bad decisions," he said. "That happens. You need to get through it, you can't moan about it and we need to start picking points up and make sure we affect it as much as we can.
"I wouldn't like to be a referee, it's the worst job on the pitch. You'll always upset someone. When you have to make a 50-50 decision, it's a lot easier to be safe on teams like ourselves.
"I'm not saying [just] Wigan, but when you are a bottom 10 team it's not a problem when you get it wrong. That's human. It happens in the Bernabeu, the Nou Camp, in all the top arenas in world football.
"You don't get those 50-50 decisions and it happens to another 10 teams, not just Wigan. The consistency is important. If it happens in the other box it should be given as well. That's when you feel a little bit let down."
What he meant was that if the attacking team are to be given the benefit of any doubt when Theo Walcott goes down under challenge from Jean Beausejour, then the defending team should also be punished when Kieran Gibbs raises an arm and deflects away a shot by Jordi Gomez.
In other circumstances, Thomas Vermaelen could have been pulled up for blocking another shot by Gomez, who might then have gone down as the most influential 89th-minute substitute in history. No referee was going to award two penalties in a minute for those near-identical incidents but Wigan deserved an opportunity to equalise after Mikel Arteta's successful spot-kick.
The referee Jon Moss did commit one notable error against Arsenal by booking Jack Wilshere for a perfectly good tackle, the England midfielder having slid in on Shaun Maloney with the determination that Arsène Wenger characterised as having been crucial in winning a game in which his team were less fluent than usual. "I like Wilshere," he said. "After 25 minutes you look at him and he is dirty from top to bottom."
It is not the quality most usually associated with any modern Arsenal player but perhaps there is a lesson there. Wilshere himself said: "It is a good feeling when you do a good tackle and you get rewarded for it. I had that feeling – but then the ref booked me!"
Wigan: AL-HABSI 8/10, STAM 7, BOYCE 6, FIGUEROA 6, BEAUSEJOUR 6, McCARTHY 7, McARTHUR 7, JONES 7, MALONEY 6, DI SANTO 7 KONE 6
Arsenal: SZCZESNY 7, GIBBS 6, VERMAELEN 7, MERTESACKER 5, SAGNA 7, PODOLSKI 6, WILSHERE 7, CAZORLA 7, ARTETA 7, OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN 7, WALCOTT 7
Goal: Arsenal Arteta pen 59. Substitutes: Wigan Athletic McManaman (Di Santo, 76), Gomez (Maloney, 89). Arsenal Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 75), Coquelin (Podolski, 79). Booked: Wigan Maloney. Arsenal Wilshere. Man of the match Al Habsi. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Wigan 43% Arsenal 57%. Attempts on target: Wigan 5 Arsenal 8. Referee J Moss (West Yorkshire). Attendance 21,754.
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