• Premier League What They Said

What They Said: Wenger: Wilshere red 'harsh'

ESPN staff
November 3, 2012 « Lambert denies Bent rift | Chartbeat test »
A rough day for Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger was left to rue a sluggish start by Arsenal as they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford. Arsenal were always on the back foot after Robin van Persie's third-minute strike against his former club, but Wenger believes Jack Wilshere's sending off for a second bookable offence was costly.

"[It] looked harsh from the stand, the second yellow," Wenger said. "I think we were a bit unlucky, especially with the penalty decision, we always have a penalty against us when we play Manchester United, so we get used to it. We had the better chances but overall in a game like this you ought to not put yourself on the back foot when you are one down.

"I think [the start did not help us], it was important not to put ourselves in trouble, which is what we did. We had a lot of the ball after we conceded the first goal but we did not create a lot. Then, when we were 2-0 down and down to 10 men it became difficult, if it was 11 v 11 then we could have come back."

Robin van Persie, who admitted it was a "special day" to face his former club, believes his partnership with fellow striker Wayne Rooney is a unique one.

"We are both No. 9½," Van Persie said. "You have two positions, a nine and a ten and we are both 9½. We are just helping each other out, we both play a bit behind and a bit higher up and it seems to work very well. I am very happy with this man [Rooney] so hopefully we can keep it going."

Sir Alex Ferguson, who felt the scoreline flattered Arsenal, believes there is more to come from his frontmen.

"I think there's a flexibility there [between Van Persie and Rooney], there's movement and the courage to both play in these positions. They are both mobile players, both footballers with a great desire to play and win. I don't think you saw the best of them as a partnership."

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo praised the performance of referee Kevin Friend after Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Swansea, which saw Pablo Hernandez cancel out Victor Moses' opener.

"I have faith in the officials. Today was a very good performance by them," Di Matteo said. "I thought he [Friend] was terrific. The referee had a fantastic game today and let the game play. I told him after the game."

Ben Watson consigned Tottenham to defeat against Wigan © PA Photos
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Michael Laudrup was delighted to complete an impressive week for Swansea, who narrowly lost at Manchester City, before beating Liverpool in the Capital One Cup followed by the draw with Chelsea on Saturday.

"Very good, very important," Laudrup said. "The champions last Saturday, Liverpool at Anfield and then the European champions today. I think it was three really good performances."

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas labelled Spurs' 1-0 defeat to Wigan the worst performance of their season, after they slumped to a Ben Watson winner at White Hart Lane.

"I think they were the better team today," Villas-Boas said. "For sure it was our worst performance of the season. I think we have the right to have a bad day in the office and I think today was an example of that. Credit to the opponent, we had difficulties because we were always under pressure. We went through the first half where we did not have any chances at the goal and they had two good chances to go ahead before us. They were superior during the 90 minutes and we make a reflection on the mistakes we did as it is very important if you want to move on in the future."

Roberto Martinez explained that a high line was key to keeping a clean sheet at White Hart Lane.

"Many people watching will say Spurs had a bad day, but I wouldn't agree with that at all," Martinez said. "We had to work very hard today. We were brave, we stopped Spurs from playing and we played high up. That opened up space for players like Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon but the concentration and partnerships all over the park helped us to stop Spurs from having a say on the ball. To have that belief and that arrogance to go anywhere and be yourself makes you very proud of the team. We have that winning mentality now and I'm proud of the team."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis blamed the officials after Norwich's winning goal - scored by Bradley Johnson - at Carrow Road came from a free-kick that Pulis strongly disputed.

"It's very disappointing," Pulis said. "For the goal it is a free-kick on Charlie [Adam], and then down the other end their lad just falls over and is given a free-kick. There was a similar incident in the first half where Charlie is pushed in the back, and the referee has actually given them a free-kick and booked Charlie. It's very, very disappointing. Sometimes, because it is Stoke City, there is a perception about us. He has got decisions wrong."

Chris Hughton believes an improved defensive effort has boosted Norwich's results over recent weeks. The Canaries have now beaten both Arsenal and Stoke by the odd goal in recent home matches.

Bradley Johnson scored Norwich's winner © PA Photos
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"It was very hard fought. Stoke are an excellent side, you can see that," Hughton said. "You look at their bench at the players they can bring on, so this was a tough game.You need to make sure you have got players in the right places and that you defend well. You need that bit of fortune where the ball bounces in the right way for you. We went through games where we played well and didn't get points. Now we have tightened up a bit and we are not conceding goals."

David Moyes was stunned by Everton's failure to win despite overwhelming Fulham at Craven Cottage. They had to settle for a 2-2 draw after Marouane Fellaini's brace was sandwiched by a Tim Howard own goal and a Steve Sidwell strike.

"I can't believe we only got a draw out of that, it's incredible," the Everton boss said. "We've played really well this season but that one we should have won. We were terrific at times but couldn't get the goals. I'm really frustrated because if I really want to hang on to the boys at the top I need to win these games when they come along. To win away in the Premier League is really hard for any side and we should have won that comfortably but we didn't."

Martin Jol accepted that Fulham had been outplayed, but offered limited sympathy for Everton failing to claim the reward they deserved.

"It doesn't mean anything in football if you don't score the goals," Jol said. "They dominated us, all we could do was try to be positive. They are a very good footballing team. They are a settled team and know exactly what to do."

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert praised Christian Benteke after the powerful forward led the line in their 1-0 win over Sunderland, sealed by Gabriel Agbonlahor.

"He could be anything he wants," Lambert said. "He could be one hell of a player. I have always said he is playing in a Belgian national team at the minute that is top class, and he is in there on merit. He is playing extremely well and since he has come to this football club, he has been a revelation for us."

Martin O'Neill was still able to take positives despite hearing his players booed from the pitch for the second time in five days, but admitted the responsibility for finding a solution lies with him.

"It's me, I'm the manager, I'm the manager of the football club, absolutely. Yes, it's difficult, it's been a difficult week for us, obviously, losing against Middlesbrough and then not scoring here. It's been a difficult week, but we will come through. We threw just about everything at them to try to get on the scoresheet, but it eluded us today again. But it will turn."

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