Cech: It was never a penalty
PUBLISHED: 19:18 31 December 2017 | UPDATED: 19:18 31 December 2017
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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech was left fuming after West Brom netted a late penalty to clinch a 1-1 draw in Arsene Wenger's record-breaking 811th Premier League match in charge of the club on New Year's Eve.
The Gunners looked set to end 2017 on a winning note and give boss Wenger a boost on his big night when Alexis Sanchez saw an 83rd-minute free-kick deflect in off James McLean.
But referee Mike Dean awarded the hosts a spot-kick when Kieran Gibbs saw his cross hit the hand of Calum Chambers at close range and Jay Rodriguez slotted home to deny Arsenal.
Cech was booked for asking Dean to explain his decision at the final whistle and said: “Every time we have a meeting with the referees prior to the season, every time this comes to this point, where the player is too close to the ball, he has no chance to react, he has his hands by his side, it will never be a penalty.
“The referee gives this with two minutes to go, that’s why I ask him why he changes opinion to give the penalty when every time we have this meeting, it is clear they are saying this is not a penalty. I think this is most disappointing.”
As for receiving a rare yellow card, the mild-mannered Cech added: “I expect when I walk towards the referee with respect and ask him a question, I would like him to answer me in the normal way, not give me a yellow card.”
Arsenal, without Mesut Ozil, did not look their sharpest at The Hawthorns, although Alex Iwobi forced a diving save from Ben Foster in the first half.
And as well as the penalty decision, Wenger was upset by the fact his side had less time to prepare for the match.
He added: “What can you do? You can talk and talk and talk, it doesn’t change anything.
“I did fight with David Dein many years ago that the referees become professional, but the level unfortunately doesn’t go up. It’s difficult to accept. It’s not the first time that it happens, but it’s best that we don’t talk about it. We just have to deal with it.
“Overall I believe the schedule is not right. West Brom has five games to prepare, we have three. Since the start of the season, the Premier League has to become serious on how the schedule is fair or unfair.
“The way they organise the schedule is not right, it’s top-level sport.”