Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes referee Mike Dean “did not see” the incident that led him to award a late penalty to West Brom in the Gunners’ 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.
The visitors were on course for three points after Alexis Sanchez’s 83rd-minute free-kick beat Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster via a big deflection off James McClean in the wall.
But, with a minute of normal time remaining, Calum Chambers was judged to have handled as Kieran Gibbs tried to nudge the ball past him in the area.
Jay Rodriguez fired the resulting spot-kick past Petr Cech to earn the struggling hosts a point.
Wenger said: “Many years ago [former Arsenal vice-chairman] David Dein and myself fought hard for referees to become professional and they do a good job, but don’t work enough.
“We have a very difficult schedule and I believe we fought hard to win the game, but didn’t because of a bad decision.
“[Dean] didn’t see it. There was a player in front of him. That’s why I questioned his decision, he didn’t see it.”
Match of the Day 2 pundits Shay Given and Leon Osman disagreed – saying Dean had a clear view – but both described the decision as “generous”.
West Brom counterpart Alan Pardew acknowledged it was a “fortunate penalty”.
He added: “If I was the opposing manager then I might not have thought it was a penalty.”
Both goals came in a dramatic final 10 minutes of a largely uninspiring game with few clear-cut chances.
Arsenal move three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool while West Brom climb off the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Was it a penalty?
Arsenal’s players protested both at the time of the decision and after the final whistle, when Cech was booked and Wenger spoke to Dean.
The incident came a day after Southampton defender Maya Yoshida was deemed not to be at fault when he handled the ball against Manchester United, but there was no such good fortune for Chambers.
With Arsenal just moments away from securing victory, former Gunners full-back Gibbs’ attempt to push the ball past Chambers struck the arm of the defender. Chambers had little time to move his arm out of the way, but the referee judged it to be intentional.
That left Wenger and his players aggrieved just minutes after they had taken the lead rather fortuitously when Sanchez’s free-kick took a big deflection off McClean to wrong-foot Foster.
Before that, the visitors rarely troubled the Baggies backline, though Alexandre Lacazette went close twice.
And the late controversy meant they missed the chance to really close on the Champions League places, with a match against second-placed Chelsea to come on Wednesday.
Baggies earn point but lack bounce
West Brom were fortunate to come away with anything from a display that appeared focused on defending.
Before the penalty, only Rodriguez’s second-half strike that stung the palms of Cech had the home crowd off their seats.
It is now no wins in 19 matches for Pardew’s side, equalling the longest such run in the Premier League since Aston Villa’s sequence ended in January 2016.
The Baggies will have another chance to end that run on Tuesday when they play West Ham.
Man of the match – Gareth Barry (West Brom)
‘We will get the break’ – the reaction
West Brom boss Alan Pardew: “It is a tough decision on Arsenal, but we deserved a break.
“If we keep going with that level of commitment, we will get the breaks to win. Liverpool was better, Everton was better, but we went toe-to-toe at times with Arsenal as much as we could, and they have got their rewards.
“We need to win a game, but we have not won, we have another point on the board but we need to turn them into wins by getting a second and third goal.”
Blank Cech – the stats
- Arsenal have scored in all 24 of their Premier League games against West Brom – the best 100% record in the competition.
- Cech has failed to save any of the 13 penalties he has faced in all competitions for Arsenal – only two keepers have faced more at a single club without saving one (Brad Friedel at Aston Villa, Craig Gordon at Sunderland – both 15).
- Wenger took charge of his 811th Premier League game – more than any other manager in the competition (W468 D198 L145).
- This was the first point West Brom had won from a losing position in the Premier League this season.
- Rodriguez has played more Premier League games against Arsenal than he has any other opponent (eight) though this was his first goal against them.
West Brom are at the Hammers’ London Stadium on Tuesday, and the Gunners host London rivals Chelsea on Wednesday.