LONDON, August 25 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger railed against the decision to disallow a goal by Aaron Ramsey for offside after his side drew 0-0 in a lively home game with Liverpool.
Liverpool largely controlled the first half at the Emirates Stadium, twice hitting the woodwork, but Arsenal thought they had gone ahead when Ramsey finished off a glorious through ball from Santi Cazorla.
However, the goal was ruled out — incorrectly, as television replays would prove — and with Liverpool having already benefited from a beneficial offside call in their 1-0 win over Bournemouth last week, Wenger felt that luck had shone on them again.
“It was a regular goal. Even though it was a period of the game where we had the most problems defensively, I can’t see why it was cancelled,” he said.
“It’s clear and on that front, you cannot say that Liverpool can complain in the last week.”
Wenger, notoriously myopic when it comes to contentious incidents involving his players, claimed that he could see “live” that Ramsey “could not be offside”, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers did not dispute the claim.
Asked for his thoughts on the incident, the Northern Irishman smiled and said: “His shirt looked offside.”
Having lost 2-0 at home to West Ham United on the opening weekend, Arsenal have now gone two home games without scoring, but Wenger admitted to feeling relieved that none of Liverpool’s first-half chances had gone in.
“I believe the West Ham game left a trace in our heads,” said the Frenchman, whose side hit the post through Alexis Sanchez in the second half.
“It was important tonight (Monday) not to lose, because you could see that was a shock for us and it was important to get that game out of the system.”
No Arsenal player demonstrated that sense of vulnerability more than Calum Chambers, who was pressed into action at centre-back alongside Gabriel after Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were ruled out.
– Rodgers pleased with ‘cohesion’ –
The former Southampton man gave the ball away several times in the first half and Wenger admitted he had been “tempted” to take him off at the interval.
But the Arsenal manager added: “He responded well. He will come out of that stronger.”
Mertesacker had been taken ill and Koscielny has sustained what the club described as a “mild” back problem, but Wenger was unable to say how long they were likely to be out for.
That Arsenal were still in the game at half-time was thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Pilloried for two errors of judgement on his debut against West Ham, the former Chelsea player pulled off a breath-taking close-range stop to thwart Christian Benteke and touched a drive from Philippe Coutinho onto the post.
Though unbeaten, Liverpool, who trail leaders Manchester City by two points, have scored only two goals in their three games to date, but having seen his side struggle defensively towards the end of last season, Rodgers was pleased with a third consecutive clean sheet.
“With my teams, the focus is always very much on the football element, but anyone who’s followed my career (will know) it’s very much about the intensity of how we press and that cohesion as a team,” he said.
“That was something that drifted last season, for sure. So it was very important, especially with the number of new players coming in, that our defensive organisation was super organised.
“That will be the platform for us, with all our creative talent.”
Liverpool were without captain Jordan Henderson and attacking midfielder Adam Lallana due to foot and thigh problems respectively and Rodgers said both players would be assessed over the course of the week.
On the transfer front, Rodgers said he knew “nothing” about reports Mario Balotelli is to be loaned back to former club AC Milan, while Wenger concurred when it was put to him that the club’s reported interest in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was dead.