Arsene Wenger ‘revolted’ by referee but proud of side despite thrashing

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Arsene Wenger said he was “revolted” by the referee after his “brave” Arsenal side suffered a last-16 Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich.

Referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos denied the hosts a penalty when 1-0 up before later awarding one for a Laurent Koscielny foul on Robert Lewandowski.

Koscielny was sent off as Arsenal lost 5-1 on Tuesday and 10-2 on aggregate.

“The penalty and red card are absolutely unexplainable and scandalous,” Gunners boss Wenger said.

“It’s irresponsible from the referee. It leaves me very angry and very frustrated.”

Arsenal faced an uphill struggle going into Tuesday’s second leg having suffered a 5-1 defeat in Germany three weeks ago.

Theo Walcott’s first-half strike gave them a sliver of hope, but that diminished when Lewandowski scored from the spot shortly after the restart and defender Koscielny was sent off for the foul that led to the penalty.

Arsenal lost any momentum and conceded four goals in 17 minutes but, despite suffering the biggest aggregate defeat of an English side in the Champions League, Wenger said the result did not “reflect the courage of the performance”.

“Overall it’s difficult to understand what’s happened,” he told BT Sport. “I still must say my team has produced a huge effort and played very well.”

Wenger added he thought Xabi Alonso’s challenge on Theo Walcott in the first half was “100% a penalty”, and also claimed Bayern striker Lewandowski was offside in the build-up to the foul by Koscielny that resulted in the French defender’s dismissal.

He was also critical of Sidiropoulos’ decision to upgrade Koscielny’s initial yellow card to a red after consulting with the additional assistant referee behind the goal.

“It’s just not serious,” Wenger said.

“When you see the importance of the games and you see an attitude like that I am absolutely revolted and sorry for people who come and pay a lot of money to watch this kind of game.”

The 67-year-old Frenchman was also the subject of protests from fans before the game at Emirates Stadium, asking for him to step down.

When asked about the demonstration, Wenger said: “I’ve nothing to add to that.”

Arsenal fans
Arsenal fans protested before the game and also held banners inside Emirates Stadium calling for Arsene Wenger to leave the club

‘There needs to be a cleansing’

The Gunners have now been knocked out at this stage of the Champions League for seven successive seasons.

And it would be the “right decision for the club” if Wenger was to leave after 21 years in charge, says former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas.

“Changes seem inevitable,” Jenas told BBC Radio 5 live. “This is a pivotal moment in Arsenal’s history, a moment to look on. There needs to be a cleansing.”

Neil Lennon echoed that sentiment, calling Arsenal “a team of spoiled brats, who throw in the towel too easily at times”.

“What I don’t want is for Arsene to tarnish his legacy,” said the Hibernian manager.

“Since they reached the Champions League final in 2006, there’s been a steady decline and there comes a point where people switch off to it and that point has come.”

Arsenal’s best chance of silverware this season is in the FA Cup and they host non-league Lincoln City in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

They are fifth in the Premier League, 16 points behind leaders Chelsea and two points adrift of fourth-place Liverpool, although they have a game in hand.

“It will be a tough ask to get into the top four,” said Jenas. “You have seen over the last two games… the way they fell apart has not been great for Wenger.”

‘He can’t seem to find an answer’

There was also reaction from other former professionals, including ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

He told BT Sport: “The first game was more upsetting than this, but it’s a sad day because we’ve gone out again at this stage. We’re going through a period in our history that’s the worst.

“It will take some sort of monumental effort to turn it around in terms of the drive and determination of the players. It feels like something is coming to an end.”

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand added: “The last 10 years in terms of league trophies and the Champions League, it’s been a disappointing time.

“It’s disappointing to see Wenger go out on this note after all he’s done. At this moment in time things are not going right and he can’t seem to find the answer.”

How bad was it? The stats

  • The 10-2 aggregate defeat is the worst suffered by an English side in the Champions League
  • It was Arsenal’s biggest home loss at Emirates Stadium, the biggest since November 1998 (5-0 against Chelsea in the League Cup)
  • Only one Champions League tie has seen a greater margin of victory for a team – Bayern Munich v Sporting Lisbon (12-1, 2009)

‘Shame Again’ – How the papers reacted

Express
‘Shame Again’ – The Express
I
‘Wenger Out…’ – i
Times
‘Wenger hits all-time low’ – Times
Sun
‘Wenger Out’ – The Sun

What did the fans say?

James Holness: Wenger points the finger of blame elsewhere for Arsenal’s failings, but ultimately he MUST take responsibility. He has to go.

Grumpy Expat: I love Arsene Wenger. Given me many happy memories. I loved my ex-girlfriend too. As difficult as it was, that had to end too.

Craig Smith: Sad day for Arsenal as Wenger’s legacy is going down in flames. Hope he quits early so can be given a positive send off.

Tim: Wenger shouldn’t be given the option of turning down new deal. No one is bigger than the club. Sack him. Now.

Johnny Magrinho: Wenger to blame? Ridiculous. The success he’s brought to this club is astronomical. This? Not his fault. Blame the players.

RobroyMan: Arsenal need a serious rebuild from the board down. Mentality is marshmallow. Bellerin, Ozil and Sanchez gone. Manager is responsible for the character of his team, full stop. Bring In Allegri.

Rewstep: Well now go, Walk out the door, Just turn around now, you’re not manager any more…

Selected from user comments and tweets sent to #bbcfootball