LONDON — Arsene Wenger looked a little dumbfounded as to how his Arsenal side had lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United on Saturday.
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The Gunners had 75 percent of the possession and 33 shots (15 of which were on target) but they came up against an inspired display from David De Gea who equaled a Premier League record for single saves in a game with 14.
Yet three catastrophic defensive errors saw his side lose for the first time in 18 home games in all competitions and end a winning-streak of 12 league games at the Emirates.
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Speaking to reporters after the game, Wenger criticized the referees after Arsenal were denied penalty kick appeals in either half with Alexandre Lacazette hauled down by Marcos Rojo in the first half, then Danny Welbeck felled by Matteo Darmian late on.
Was he upset about not being awarded at least two penalty kicks?
“I am,” Wenger said, before giving his opinion on if they were penalties and then intimating that United would have been awarded penalty kicks had they been playing at home. “I don’t know, I have to watch it again, but I thought it was. Yes. We will see. I hope that at Old Trafford it will be the same…”
Wenger wasn’t finished though. Oh no.
Asked if his own player, Laurent Koscielny, should have been sent off for hauling down Romelu Lukaku as the last man late on, the Frenchman was far from complimentary about referee Andre Marriner and his officiating crew.
“Maybe I don’t know every situation in the game. Last night I watched Napoli v Juventus on television. You have seen a top class referees. You want to analyze well? Watch that and the difference between them and us and then you see,” Wenger added.
Arsenal were the better team for vast swathes of this game but failed to covert their dominance and chances into goals and were hit three times on the counter by a ruthless United attacking unit.
The defeat leaves Arsenal possibly 15 points behind PL leaders Manchester City (if they beat West Ham tomorrow) and the Gunners’ title hopes are all but over before the festive period has even begun.
Wenger rued their wasteful nature.
“When you have 33 shots on goal in a game of that stature, it means our dominance was top class but I am angry and disappointed because at the end you have nothing to show for it,” Wenger said. “Even at 2-1 you make another mistake at that back that made the game even more difficult… I felt that at the back our concentration at the back was not sharp enough from the start and not dominant enough.
“We have produced an excellent performance but we have conceded three goals. We had at least 10 chances and we were not efficient enough in the box. That is the reality. I feel sorry for the players because our spirit was outstanding, the quality of the performance was outstanding but we were not efficient enough in areas where it mattered.”