LONDON (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger surpassed Alex Ferguson’s record for Premier League games managed in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and marked the achievement by voicing one of his favourite complaints.
Referee Mike Dean awarded a controversial late penalty that denied Arsenal victory and Wenger could not resist a dig at the official.
“It’s difficult to accept,” Wenger said. “It’s more than the decision that is involved in that and it is not the first time it has happened. But it’s best we don’t talk about. We know deeply what it is going on and we just have to deal with it.”
“I did not see it” became a familiar response from Wenger whenever decisions have gone in Arsenal’s favour, but as they have struggled to replicate the success they enjoyed in his early years, the Frenchman has cut a more frustrated figure when rulings have gone against his team.
The image of him looking lost in the stands at Old Trafford in 2011 after being sent from the touchline during Arsenal’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Manchester United has endured, but Wenger’s recent clashes with referees have become more confrontational.
He was handed a four-match ban in January for pushing the fourth official after his team’s 2-1 win over Burnley.
Then, unhappy about how Raheem Sterling had won Manchester City a penalty and scored a possibly offside goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat in November, Wenger really vented his anger.
“I feel the referees don’t work enough because their level drops every season at the moment,” Wenger said. “And overall it’s unacceptable.”
With Arsenal on course for their third win in seven league games at West Brom, in Wenger’s 811th game in charge, Calum Chambers was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.
Arsenal players Hector Bellerin, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech were cautioned for the protests and Jay Rodriguez dampened the visitors’ mood further by converting the penalty to snatch a point for West Brom.
The reaction sounded rather familiar.
“I did fight many years ago for referees to become professional, but unfortunately their levels do not go up,” said Wenger who has managed Arsenal for 21 years.
Wenger expressed his desire for VAR (Video Assistant Referees) to be introduced in the Premier League too, but until that happens, one of the fiercest critics of referees is not showing any sign of softening his stance.
Reporting by Peter Hall, Editing by Ed Osmond