Arsene Wenger relieved to see Arsenal beat West Brom but denies away side should have had a penalty

With the score at 0-0 in the eighth minute of the game, Shkodran Mustafi brought down Jay Rodriguez in the box, only for the striker to immediately get up and attempt a shot

Miguel Delaney
Emirates Stadium
Monday 25 September 2017 23:40
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Perhaps unsurprisingly Wenger defended the referee's decision
Perhaps unsurprisingly Wenger defended the referee's decision

Arsene Wenger has said referee Bobby Madley’s decision to deny West Brom what seemed a clear penalty was “defendable” either way, on what he admitted was a “nervy” 2-0 win for Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday.

With the score at 0-0 in the eighth minute of the game, Shkodran Mustafi brought down Jay Rodriguez in the box, only for the striker to immediately get up and attempt a shot that Petr Cech touched onto the post - a move that could be considered advantage played. Wenger said he could have understood if a penalty was given, just as he could understand the fact it wasn’t.

“The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that and they hit the post,” the Arsenal manager said. “The decision is defendable on both sides.”

West Brom boss Tony Pulis meanwhile refused to directly criticise Madley or the decisions, but did stress that he felt Alexis Sanchez should have been booked for a dive in the opening few minutes that it was “lovely that people got to watch” the decisions on television to make up their own minds.

“Nah, I’m not here to talk about the referee,” Pulis said when asked. “The decisions were made tonight. It’s ovely that people can watch them. Sanchez could get booked first few minutes, for diving on the edge of the box.”

While he also felt a penalty should have been given for the Rodriguez moment, he didn’t blame the player for not staying down.

“People say Rodriguez is too honest. Is honesty the thing to do? We haven’t had a penalty in over a year now… What he did he did, and that’s finished. I’m not going to get myself in trouble by talking about the referee.”

Pulis was finally asked what most irritated about the game and merely walked away laughing loudly. Wenger did admit that West Brom had made it very tense for Arsenal.

“It was difficult because they are very strong, mobile. In the second half they dropped in their intensity, became more comfortable for us. We finished in comfortable way but it was a bit nervy.

“What is important is we are strong at home. We had three difficult away games - Stoke City, Liverpool and Chelsea. It’s important to keep our home strength. What is important for us tonight is to get three points because everyone else [of last season’s top six] won. There was a pressure on us tonight.”

Wenger also praised Alexandre Lacazette’s composure in scoring twice and standing up to the physical challenge of West Brom, and said he only took him off and denied him a hat-trick because he was tired.

“He is not only a goalscorer, his link-up play is good, he fights as well, and is not phased by physical challenges West Brom gave us today. He looks to adapt very well.

“I took him off because he was tired. He had an opportunity to score a hat-trick. I gave him the penalty. I observed him a bit on that in training.”

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