Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has apologised after Santi Cazorla looked to dive to win a penalty in his side’s 2-0 win over West Brom.
The Spaniard darted down the left flank before cutting inside Steven Reid and falling to the floor. Mikel Arteta converted the resultant spot-kick to break the deadlock in Arsenal’s favour.
Replays have since shown that Reid did not make contact with Cazorla and Wenger has apologised ‘if it was not a penalty’.
“I am sorry if it was not a penalty,” Wenger told reporters.
“I have spoken to Santi and he said he has been touched and lost his balance. Maybe he made more of it, I don’t know.
“It’s a difficult decision, it can go against you, it went for us today. That’s what it is. What I mean is, when he [a player] is touched, he goes down, the referee can give or not give the penalty. Of course [I will speak to Santi if he has not been touched]. I will look at it, don’t worry.”
Two penalty kicks converted by Arteta proved to be the difference between Arsenal and their visiting counterparts, but Wenger was confident that his side deserved the victory due to their dominance in attack.
“We were a bit lucky maybe on the first penalty because he could have given it or not given it,” Wenger added.
“For the rest we created many chances, kept a clean sheet and have shown a great spirit, which many people questioned after our last game. That’s all we could do, we did our job very well.
“I feel overall we played well. They tried to stop us playing, they are physically strong and they played deep.
“Their keeper started very early in the game to gain time, and we were a bit nervous. I think that showed in the way we took our chances. But you could feel that we were ready for a fight and we knew we absolutely had to win this game.
“We did it and somewhere, with top-level sportsmen, when you have to win, you win. To deal with the nerves and be serious and resolute, that is what we have shown today.”
West Brom manager Steve Clarke hit out at the decision to award Arsenal the first-half penalty.
“Zero contact on the first goal. Zero. Not even close,” Clarke told reporters after the game.
“I’m not sure what the referee saw there. It was a bad decision for us and obviously changed the shape of the afternoon.
“Before the second penalty was given – which was a clear penalty, no complaints, Chris Brunt fouled [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box – but before that, Goran Popov was fouled in the lead up to it and for some reason the referee, who’d been giving soft free-kicks all afternoon, decided not to give that one.
“It was another poor decision for us, and you can add the [Per] Mertesacker handball in the first half.”
Clarke refused to comment further on Cazorla’s dive, but pulled no punches in his assessment of referee Jones’ performance.
He continued: “I think the culture in the game now is that if there is a contact, players will go down probably easier than they did a number of years ago.
“In that one there was no contact. Cazorla might have thought there was contact coming but Steven pulled out of the challenge, there was no contact, and the referee should be able to see that. From where he was, he should see that.”
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