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Wenger furious over referee visit

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger's side have now drawn their last three Premier League games

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit out at Aston Villa after their assistant boss John Robertson visited the referee at half-time in the sides' 2-2 draw.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill said Robertson asked official Lee Mason about a first-half decision.

Wenger said: "I know how it works here. At half-time the referee gets stick and then in the second half every little 50-50 decision goes the other way.

"I waited at half-time to see what happened and I was not disappointed."

He added: "That's what happened. It's not only here."

Asked if he was implying that someone from Villa influenced the referee, Wenger added: "I have nothing to explain more than that."

O'Neill said: "John I think spoke to the referee. I think John asked him to explain a decision that Gabby Agbonlahor didn't get, that was all. Simple as that.

"He only asked him to explain the decision and the referee chose not to give an answer."

The Villa boss also calmed talk of his side's Premier League progress after they came from two goals down to hold Arsenal.

"We were magnificent right from the first whistle," O'Neill told BBC Sport.

We deserved at least the draw - O'Neill

"We're making a bit of progress but talk of top fours and championships hasn't emanated from this club.

"The ability in the side augurs well for us but we have to keep the major players fit, and that's all those lads who played today."

Zat Knight scored in injury time to earn Villa a point from the 2-2 draw, despite Arsenal looking comfortable when they went two goals up, five minutes into the second half.

Tiny Tim

"The first goal they scored knocked us back, it took almost everything out of us, certainly just before half-time," said O'Neill.

"They've gone and scored a second, and could have had a third.

"But we're never finished, we battled on, got back into the game and the equalising goal at the last - we certainly deserved at least that."

And O'Neill praised defender Knight, making his first Premier League appearance of the season, for his clinical finish in stoppage time.

"He's had to wait a little while - we've got some outstanding centre-backs keeping him out of the side - and that was a big goal, he took it like a centre forward," he said.

Late equaliser 'frustrating' - Wenger

Wenger was frustrated by his team's inability to hold on to their lead, despite weathering a first-half storm when Villa looked far more likely to score.

"In the first half Villa created good chances and we were lucky, but in the second half we were never in trouble," bemoaned the Gunners manager.

"It's frustrating because I feel we tried very hard. It was an average football game but with a little bit more composure we could have scored five goals today.

"The spirit was fantastic. Spirit is needed but not sufficient."

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see also
Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
26 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
26 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 08 |  Football

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