'Surprised and shocked' Wenger stands by referee criticism

Arsene Wenger is in trouble with the Football Association due to comments about referees but he is not backing down from his stance.

Arsene Wenger believes his team has been at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions over the last week.   -  Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stood by his criticism of Premier League referees and claimed he was "surprised and shocked" to be charged for approaching Mike Dean after the 1-1 draw with West Brom.

Wenger has been particularly critical of officials in the last week, starting on Sunday when he was left frustrated by Dean's decision to award West Brom a late penalty, as a Kieran Gibbs cross appeared to strike the arm of Calum Chambers.

The Frenchman confronted Dean after the game and entered the referee's changing room, with the subsequent charge - which he has until 18:00 GMT on Friday to answer - relating to his language and conduct.

Wenger then risked further aggravating the authorities by slamming the "farcical" penalty awarded to Eden Hazard in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

Read: Wenger asked by FA to explain referee comments

It was put to Wenger in Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of the FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest that Jack Wilshere also "dived" to win a penalty for Arsenal in the same game, though he insisted that was not entirely relevant.

"Yes, maybe he did," he said to reporters. "But why should that change my opinion on the penalty?

"That has nothing to do to with it. Every situation is different and has to be assessed by the referee. I have my opinion, you have yours.

"I've nothing to add, I maintain what I said. We can spend all day talking about things that aren't important, but we want to see big games, with important players and see them refereed by top professionals.

"I try to serve this game with honestly and integrity. When I have something to say, I say it. I had a huge influence on them [referees] becoming professional, so that's why I think I am allowed to be demanding.

"Imagine, I am 21 years in the game and what I've seen and heard in corridors – I'm surprised and shocked to be charged."

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be tested in the FA Cup clash between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace on Monday, the first time it has been used in a competitive English match.

And Wenger is broadly supportive of the initiative, though he wants to ensure use of technology is implemented correctly.

"I have fought for the video technology for over 10 years, so I can only be positive," Wenger said. "It can create jobs too for former referees, allowing them to continue.

"But I believe it's like every new technology, I can be positive and I'm in favour of moving forward, even if it creates problems. It can get rid of things that have happened before. It can get many mistakes out the game, especially the offsides. After that, it depends how we use it."

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