Arsene Wenger slammed Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling for “diving” and gave a scathing assessment of the standard of officiating in the Premier League, claiming it “drops every season” after Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
Arsenal felt aggrieved by the awarding of a second-half penalty, with Nacho Monreal penalised for bringing down Sterling.
City’s third goal frustrated Arsenal even more, as David Silva teed up Gabriel Jesus for an easy finish despite the Spaniard appearing to stray offside in the build-up.
And Wenger was left fuming with referee Michael Oliver at full-time.
“I felt it was an intense game, quality on both sides,” he told Sky Sports. “Of course, Man City are on a high, but I felt we had plenty of dangerous situations and chances and I would say overall, once again, the referee made the decisions today with a soft penalty and an offside goal.
“We are used to it. We had two offside goals against us last year [at the Etihad]. I feel they [referees] don’t work enough.
“The referees don’t work enough because the level drops every season and it’s unacceptable what happens.
“The physical level [of the officials] is very good, it’s the decisions [that are not very good].
“At 2-1 we are in the game and he gives a clear offside goal and of course that kills the game for us.
“Last year we conceded two offside goals as well. Of course, they are a top team, but on top of that it makes it difficult.
“[The decisions were] just wrong. I think we played quite well against a team that plays with pace and is always dangerous on the counter. We created dangerous situations.
“I think in first half we were too deep, second half we were much more in it. At 2-1 it looked like we could come into it. The 3-1 [goal] was the killer.”
Sterling, who was linked with a move to Arsenal as part of a potential swap deal with Alexis Sanchez in the last transfer window, also irked Wenger, who felt that the England international went down too easily for the penalty.
“I believe it was no penalty,” Wenger added to BBC Sport. “We know that Sterling dives well, and he does that [win the penalty] very well.”
Wenger’s goalkeeper Petr Cech was rather more sympathetic towards the officials, however, acknowledging the difficulty of their job.
He said: “At 2-1 we got back into the game and we were in it, we had time to search for the equaliser but the third goal makes a huge difference.
“I can’t comment on the penalty because of my angle, but the third goal, I was surprised. David Silva looked far behind everybody but the referee has a better view than me.
“Referees have a difficult job to do. I don’t know if he got it right or wrong but that goal made the difference.”