Wenger applauds 'honest' Halsey

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger yesterday admitted that his players did influence the referee Mark Halsey into changing his mind over a penalty awarded for Fulham against Arsenal on Saturday.

"We did, I don't deny that," Wenger said before adding "I think overall the referee came out in an honest way." The Arsenal manager denied that Halsey was setting a dangerous precedent. "On every penalty that is given, you always have a reaction from the team trying to change the referee's mind," Wenger said. "That's quite automatic. I don't believe it will change a lot. But most of the time, 99 per cent of the time, the referee will stick to his decision."

The match - which Arsenal won 3-0 - was one of three dogged by refereeing controversy. Chelsea were denied a clear penalty in the goalless draw against Aston Villa. Their striker Didier Drogba was booked for diving and yesterday his yellow card was rescinded by the referee Rob Styles - an admission that he had got his decision wrong.

Furthermore, Keith Hackett, the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, which supervises the referees, said yesterday that he had sympathy for the Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho who had protested vociferously about Styles' decision. Mourinho said the referee had "cost us the points". Hackett said: "When referees get it wrong we do get disappointed so I have some sympathy with people who manage teams and walk a tight-rope when making comments."

The third incident involved Everton's Tim Cahill who received a second caution - and was sent off - for pulling his shirt over his head after scoring the winner against Manchester City. The action, by the referee Steve Bennett, was in accordance with Fifa regulations to prevent crowd incitement. Fifa's president Sepp Blatter, said yesterday that Cahill should merely have been warned. "That's contrary to the law," said Hackett.

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