Arsene Wenger declared Arsenal’s latest stoppage-time winner against Burnley ‘a clear penalty’ but the decision left opposite number Sean Dyche with a bitter case of deja vu at Turf Moor.
Arsenal have now won their last three games against the Clarets in added time, with another Alexis Sanchez spot-kick settling matters at the Emirates in January and a Laurent Koscielny handball breaking Burnley hearts three months earlier.
It was far from a stonewall verdict, with clear contact between James Tarkowski and Aaron Ramsey but question marks over the extent of the Welshman’s tumble.
For Wenger there was no controversy as his side returned to the top four in the Premier League and leapfrogged rivals Tottenham.
‘It looked from the outside like a clear penalty,’ said the Frenchman.
‘I will have to watch it again but I think there was one of (Hector) Bellerin as well. I can understand if they are disappointed with it but from the outside it looked a penalty.’
Wenger was quick to stand firm in defence of Ramsey too, insisting the player’s instinct was to play the ball, not the percentages.
‘When you speak to him he didn’t throw himself on the ground. He said he wanted to go back and flick on the ball. He was pushed in the back and he had a problem in his neck from the push.’
Dyche, whose side were clearly superior for the first 45 minutes but only managed to strike a post through Johann Berg Gudmundsson, had no qualms about Ramsey’s conduct but could not hide his frustrations.
The Burnley boss accepted it was a spot-kick but seemed keen to draw in wider, historical grievances.
‘It probably is a penalty but my point is we were never not going to get that given, I can assure you,’ he said.
‘With those calls you have to be 100 per cent, which I assume the referee was.
‘I don’t know if anyone’s into stats but I’d be interested to see what someone has to say about that happening three times, home and away. Three times involving referee moments.
‘It’s a strange one but c’est la vie. We look forward to going there and getting another one this season, making it four. That’d be brilliant.’
‘We’ve had a lot not given when it’s been similar. People have been talking about it way beyond my time as a manager, that the bigger clubs seem to get the decisions. Managers for years have been promoting this, though, that they do.’
Wenger, meanwhile, revealed the club were forced into a late change when Mesut Ozil became unwell, sending him back and whisking Ainsley Maitland-Niles up the motorway for an unexpected appearance on the substitute’s bench.
‘I haven’t seen him (Ozil), but the doctor came and said we had to travel him back,’ explained Wenger.
‘We brought Maitland-Niles and he arrived at 1pm (an hour before kick-off) because we only had 17.’