Wenger blasts ref over ‘ridiculous’ penalty

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said a “ridiculous” penalty decision and his team’s lack of killer instinct were to blame for their defeat at Watford on Saturday.

Arsenal led through Per Mertesacker’s first-half header, but were left disappointed thanks to Troy Deeney’s equaliser and Tom Cleverley’s stoppage-time winner.

Referee Neil Swarbrick gave the Hornets a penalty after Richarlison went down in the box under pressure from Héctor Bellerín, although Wenger said there was minimal contact.

“The decision on the penalty is a bit ridiculous and then we panicked a bit for their second goal and in the end we stand with a defeat,” the Frenchman said.

“It is a scandalous decision, but what can we do about it? Nothing. We can talk and talk and talk. At the end of the day they scored. It was not a penalty, it was a creation of the referee. The decision is wrong and that’s it. And it came at an absolutely important time for them. No penalty, no goal.”

His opposite number Marco Silva said he understood Wenger’s frustration, but added that Richarlison did not dive. “It is not an easy decision,” he said.

“But he did not dive. He is always fair. It is very important to understand what a dive is. This was 50-50. There was short contact.

“After the match at West Brom I called for skilful players to be given more protection. Richarlison, a young boy of 20, is the most fouled player in the Premier League. All the greatest players in the world attract fouls.”

Despite his anger over the penalty, Wenger said that his team were also at fault.

“[The penalty] was not the only major factor in the game,” he added. “With a bit more killing instinct in front of goal, we should have won the game. That’s where we’re guilty.

“We played very well in the first half but I’m not so happy with the second. Our level dropped. We missed many chances. The number two and number three goals should have been scored. And after the 1-1 there was no need to panic. For their second goal, we can only look at ourselves.”

Fans, though, were not so forgiving.