Arsene Wenger: Referees stuck in the 1950s

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has criticised Premier League referees by claiming they are stuck in the 1950s in the way they still mollycoddle players.

Wenger also called on the game’s authorities to simplify the handball rule after the late penalty Arsenal conceded to West Brom on Sunday when the ball struck Calum Chambers on his arm.

The FA has charged Wenger following his conduct in the referees’ changing room after the match and he now has until 6pm on Friday to respond.

Wenger pointedly said Mike Dean “saw what he wanted to see” at the Hawthorns and believes referees in England need to sharpen up.

“For me, they have to serve the game like we have to serve the game, and to try to give positive emotions to people who love football in the stand,” Wenger said.

“It’s not [appropriate] any more, in 2018, that the guy calls a player, speaks half a minute, or a minute to him, to say, ‘Look, you have to behave properly.’ That is gone.

“That is not the rhythm of a modern society. People want crisp, sharp action, and the referee has to make sure that that happens.

“This is the 1950s, where the guy talks to him - ‘If you’re not nice, I might punish you’. Come on, let’s not waste time.

“What does it help for the game? Nothing. Nothing happens. People who sit in the stand don’t want to see that. They want to see, ‘Come on, let’s get on with it and play’. That’s our responsibility. We don’t live in the dark ages.”

Handballs have become increasingly problematic for Premier League referees, with Jose Mourinho lamenting Craig Pawson’s decision not to give Manchester United a penalty on Saturday against Southampton’s Maya Yoshida.

FA rules state a handball must be a “deliberate act” and the distance between the opponent and ball should also be considered.

Wenger said: “FA rules change always during the season because they must watch the television and say ‘oh, he has given penalty — maybe next time I do it as well’.

“They need a clear guidance. I personally think you have to make the rules as simple as possible.”

A feisty Wenger also pledged to bring in top-class replacements if Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil decide to leave Arsenal.

Wenger said they are yet to be contacted by any interested clubs but insisted the Gunners will not suffer if the duo depart.

Sanchez and Ozil are yet to extend their contracts, which expire in the summer, and are now free to speak to foreign clubs.

Wenger will be on the lookout for new signings too this month, but admitted he will adjust his plans depending on Sanchez and Ozil’s situation.

“We are out there and look of course to do some things. We will do but when is very difficult to say because that does not depend only on us. We are open to any position for the exceptional player that can give us a plus. It depends a little bit on the injuries as well.

“On the other hand it depends if we manage to extend the contracts of the players who are at the end of their contracts in June.

“It will depend on that as well. We have to take the consequences of those decisions and respond to it.

“How we cope with that, first of all we have not lost them yet, and secondly we will respond to that by bringing in players of top quality.

“This club has lost many, many big players and has always responded well. Massive players have left this club and the club will always be in a strong position on that front.”

Wenger, however, dismissed speculation linking Arsenal with moves for Chelsea defender David Luiz and Monaco forward Thomas Lemar.

He said: “I don’t want to think about any special names, but these reports are wrong.”

Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday as they attempt to regain momentum following the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns.

Sead Kolasinac limped off against West Brom after taking a knock to his ankle and the defender is now expected to be out for a minimum of two weeks.

Laurent Koscielny is also still struggling with an Achilles injury, with Wenger rating the Frenchman’s chances of facing Chelsea at 30 per cent. Ozil, who has a knee problem, has a “small chance” and will be assessed.

Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are both out with hamstring injuries, along with Nacho Monreal who has an ankle problem.

ARSENAL V CHELSEA

Tonight: Emirates Stadium, 7.45pm

Referee: Anthony Taylor

TV: Sky Sports

Bet: Arsenal 15/8 Chelsea 8/5 Draw 5/2


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