Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said that Per Mertesacker’s dismissal changed the game as his side lost 0-1 against Chelsea.
The Gunners lost the chance to go top of the table, with Mertesacker dismissed after 18 minutes for a last man tackle on Diego Costa.
Five minutes later, the Chelsea striker turned in Branislav Ivanovic’s cross to score the winner.
On Mertesacker red card:
“I think it was quick and harsh, but I have to watch it again. What can I change? It doesn’t change anything. The referee made the decision and we have to get on with it. I didn’t speak to Per Mertesacker [about it].
Asked if there was contact with Diego Costa:
“We have 35 journalists here, I am sure you have all seen it again and analysed it and know much more about that situation that I do. I can’t comment because I didn’t know if Costa was offside or not or if Per touched him or not. I don’t know. It was of course frustrating but it is a decision and we had to get on with our job, which we did.
On Arsenal performance:
“The team [after the red card] was focused and fought until the last second. Despite the disappointing result, we should have even more belief in ourselves after the game, when I see how it went.
On Giroud‘s substitution:
“You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what? I made the decision and for me it was quite normal. We had to go for long distances and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.
Again, he spoke about Costa’s role in Mertesacker’s red card:
“You want me to say things I am not interested in. I said Costa got two of our players sent off in the last two games against Chelsea. Those are facts. Was the decision right or wrong, I don’t know but those are facts. Without accusing him of anything.
On Walcott’s captaincy, that probably was a distraction to him
“No, you can find many reasons but you never really know. We are frustrated after the game because we could not play with our real assets. I don’t think that is down to Mertesacker giving the captaincy to Walcott.
On whether Giroud was fit:
“I think yes, but it was a bit in my mind if he gets injured, with his ankle, he was a doubt, he didn’t practice yesterday and today we declared him fit. It was on my mind. But I had to change a player and I thought that was the most rational decision with all the factors.
On Alexis Sanchez’s performance:
“He came on quite well. It took him a while to get into the game but in the last 20 minutes he was sharp.
On the recent record against Chelsea…
“Today was a special game. We were down to 10 men and we were 1-0 down straight away. Normally you lose a game like that 3-0 or 4-0 when you have to chase it – there is nothing more dangerous when you are down to 10 men. Overall we come out with a lot of regrets because we couldn’t play with our team and looking at Chelsea today there wa s a lot of room to beat them if we had 11 players.
On the disciplinary record against Chelsea…
“I would not compare today’s situation [with last time]. It was not a confrontational situation like at Chelsea, it was a fact of the game and the decision of the referee. I don’t think it was linked with bad behaviour or attitude.