LONDON: Arsene Wenger apologised after he was sent off and then shoved the fourth official during Arsenal’s dramatic 2-1 win over Burnley but could still face a significant ban.
Having taken the lead through Shkodran Mustafi’s first goal for the club on Sunday, Arsenal saw Granit Xhaka dismissed for a needless foul and then nearly imploded as Andre Gray struck from the spot following Francis Coquelin’s foul on Ashley Barnes.
With their Premier League title hopes facing another major setback and the clock ticking down, Wenger was sent off for rowing with fourth official Anthony Taylor and the Frenchman then pushed Taylor, which will likely see him punished by the Football Association.
Arsenal went on to snatch the points as Alexis Sanchez scored a penalty with virtually the last kick when Laurent Koscielny was caught in the head by Ben Mee’s raised foot.
Wenger, who was furious Coquelin’s challenge was ruled a spot-kick, had calmed down by the time he faced the media.
“I regret everything. I should have shut up. I apologise for that,” Wenger said.
“I haven’t spoken to the fourth official yet because I had to do this press conference. Look, it was nothing bad, I said something you hear every day in football.
“Overall nine times out of 10 you are not sent to the stands for that, but if you are, you are. I should have shut up.”
Wenger, who saw his side move up to second place, eight points behind leaders Chelsea, was less forgiving about Xhaka’s second red card for Arsenal.
Blaming the Swiss for failing to follow instructions to stay on his feet, Wenger warned the midfielder to curb his over-zealous challenges.
“Xhaka has to control his game and not punish the team with a lack of control in his tackling,” said Wenger.
“We don’t encourage our midfielders to go down in their tackles and make this type of tackle.”
Arsenal have won four of their last five league games and with a trip to Stamford Bridge looming on February 4, Wenger challenged his players to keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea.
“We got an unlikely win, when it is 10 against 11 with two minutes to go it is difficult to win,” Wenger said, hailing his side’s resolve.
“It was a tense game against a team that made it uncomfortable for us. We are a team that keeps going no matter what happens and that is a good thing.”
– ‘Bad taste’ –
Wenger revealed he was surprised to see Sanchez take the decisive penalty.
The Chilean doesn’t usually have penalty duties, but he avoided a tongue lashing from Wenger with a cheeky chipped finish for his 15th league goal of the season and Wenger said: “He was too cool.
“He was the second penalty taker today, but as long as he scores you have to say well done.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was in a less sanguine mood after his team were condemned to their ninth defeat in 10 away league games this season.
Blaming the officials’ failure to rule Koscielny offside before he was fouled for the penalty, Dyche fumed: “You can’t believe the decision.
“He had just put his flag up because he thinks he’s offside, then the ref gives the penalty and now the linesman has to be brave.
“He’s offside, simple as that. It’s really disappointing.
“You need the officials to do well. I don’t think at this level you can get that wrong.
“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”