Thursday, December 25, 2008

Arsene Wenger Blows a Fuse After "Villains" Visit the Ref at Halftime

Arsene Wenger was said to be furious following their encounter with Aston Villa last night. The Villains secured a 2-2 draw with almost the last kick of the game deep into injury time.

The Arsenal boss vented his fury in an outburst aimed at Aston Villa's management and the referee after it emerged that Martin O'Neill's assistant John Robertson visited the referee's dressing room at half-time to have a "chat" with the officials.

Robertson has proclaimed his innocence, saying he only went to the official's room to question a decision in the first half, but Wenger has gone public on what he feels may be some shenanigans on behalf of Villa.

Wenger said, "I know how it works here. At half-time the referee gets stick, and then in the second half every little 50-50 decision goes the other way.

"I waited at half-time to see what happened, and I was not disappointed"

He then added cryptically, "That's what happened, it's not only here..."

Asked if he was implying that someone from Villa influenced the referee, Wenger added: "I have nothing to explain more than that."

O'Neill said: "John, I think, spoke to the referee. I think John asked him to explain a decision that Gabby Agbonlahor didn't get, that was all. Simple as that.

"He only asked him to explain the decision, and the referee chose not to give an answer."

The Villa boss also played down talk of his side's Premier League progress after they came from two goals down to hold Arsenal.

"We were magnificent right from the first whistle," said a jubilant Martin O'Neill after the match.

"We're making progress, but talk of championships and top-fours has not emanated from this club.

"The ability in the side augurs well for us, but we have to keep our major players fit, and that's everyone who played today."

Zat Knight scored the equaliser in injury time. He has found himself on the sidelines since the start of the season.

He was only brought into the team after Laursen and Cuellar both failed to recover from injury, and the prognosis for Laursen looks bad, as he is now expected to miss Villa's next eight games.

O'Neill praised defender Knight, who made his first Premier League appearance of the season, for his clinical finish in stoppage time.

"He's had to wait a little while (we've got some outstanding centre-backs keeping him out of the side), and that was a big goal. He took it like a centre forward," he said.

Wenger was frustrated by his team's inability to hold on to their lead, despite weathering a first-half storm when Villa looked far more likely to score.

"In the first half, Villa created good chances and we were lucky, but in the second half, we were never in trouble," bemoaned the Gunners manager.

"It's frustrating, because I feel we tried very hard. It was an average football game, but with a little bit more composure, we could have scored five goals today.

"The spirit was fantastic. Spirit is needed, but not sufficient."

Wenger's excuses about Villa influencing the referee are feeble at best and a poor attempt at changing the topic of conversation from his team taking a lucky two-goal lead and losing it, to one where everyone and everything were against them.

Arsenal's problems this season are all self-made.

They sold two of their best midfielders without ever replacing them, and left the burden of the team on the back of a 21-year-old who has only had a break from football in over two years because of his knee injury.

The boardroom problems are all problems of internal strife, and that ball was started rolling by the much-heralded David Dein.

With debts of around £365million, missing out on the lucrative Champion's League positions could have catastrophic effects on the Gunners.

Could Arsenal be the next Leeds?

twitter / WillieGannon