January 5, 2018 / 12:05 PM / 18 days ago

Soccer: Wenger defends referee criticisms in face of FA investigation

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stood by comments criticising refereeing decisions during the club’s last two Premier League matches after the Football Association (FA) asked the Frenchman to explain himself.

Wenger criticised referee Mike Dean’s decision to award West Bromwich Albion a late penalty during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns last Sunday, telling a press conference on Tuesday that the official “saw what he wanted to see”.

Following Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Wednesday, Wenger again complained about the “farcical” decision by Anthony Taylor to award Chelsea a penalty in 67th minute, leading the FA to ask for the manager’s observations.

“I believe that yes I have been asked and I maintain what I said in the press conference 100 per cent and there is nothing to change in that,” Wenger told a news conference on Friday.

“Basically, nothing has changed. I have been in England for 21 years and I try to serve this game with honesty, integrity and when I have something to say, I say it and on that front nothing will change ever.”

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard appeared to be caught by Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin in the area to win the penalty but Wenger believes that Hazard should have received a yellow card for deceiving the referee instead.

“100 per cent. I respect everybody’s opinion, I think it was a yellow card for Hazard, 100 per cent,” Wenger added when asked if he stood by his view.

“I have a right to have my opinion and I respect everybody’s opinion.”

Minutes before the spot-kick, Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere went down under minimal contact near Chelsea’s box but Wenger says Wilshere’s incident does not change his view of the penalty as each incident is different.

The FA charged Wenger on Tuesday for using questionable language or behaviour towards match officials in their changing room after the West Brom match and the Frenchman could face another charge if his comments are deemed inappropriate.

Wenger also said he would like Theo Walcott to remain at the club amidst media reports linking the winger with a return to Southampton.

Arsenal travel to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir

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