Wenger blasts decisions after Leicester loss

Arsene Wenger blasted the officials on Wednesday following Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Leicester and said the Premier League’s decision not to use VAR was a big mistake.

The Frenchman was angered after two big calls went against the Gunners during their loss at the King Power Stadium.

The first came on 17 minutes when referee Graham Scott handed young defender Konstantinos Mavropanos a straight red for bringing down Kelechi Iheanacho just a minute after he had put the Foxes into the lead.

Then, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had equalised, Leicester were awarded a penalty when Scott adjudged Henrikh Mkhitaryan had tripped Demarai Gray. Jamie Vardy scored from the spot before Riyad Mahrez added another goal late on.

Wenger was left fuming by both incidents, which condemned Arsenal to a seventh consecutive away loss in 2018.

“I’m convinced what changed the game was the penalty,” he said.

“I have complaints about the red card as well but I think we dealt well with the situation. I would like to praise the team for the spirit they showed tonight.

“There is always a reason for the defeat, but if you isolate each game, it is unfortunate what happened tonight.

“I think the Premier League has voted against VAR and it is upsetting. It destroys me because we were in front of the rest of the world, and now we want to be behind.”

“I disagree with the red card because [Rob] Holding would have caught this ball. [Mavropanos] was not the last man,” Wenger said. “The penalty is a very creative, imaginative aspect from the referee. We watched it again. It’s a nice dive but it’s not a penalty.”

Wenger admitted the red card was a blow for Mavropanos, who had done well in his first two games for the club against Manchester United and Burnley.

He added that perhaps he shouldn’t have played the 20-year-old centre-back just three days after the Burnley match.

“I believe when games are very close, it takes so much mental energy at the start of your career that it takes sometimes a bit longer to recover,” Wenger said. “Tonight he was a bit surprised by the pace of the game at the start, because he had not completely recovered.

“I had a long thought about playing him straight away again or not. Sometimes you think ‘OK, it’s going well for him, keep him in.’ But I don’t think he had recovered.”

The 68-year old, who will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, added that he thought with a bit of luck the Gunners could challenge for the Premier League title next season.

“I feel that if you look at our season, at home we have had championship-winning form,” he said.
“Away from home we have had the consequence of many things: a lack of confidence because of a few bad results, and after that we neglected some games because we were in the Europa League.
“The quality is there, the spirit is exceptional. I think if the team has one or two good away results next year, they will play for the Premier League — I’m convinced because there’s something special in that team, which will come out next season. I’m convinced that Arsenal will be one of the top contenders next year.”