José Mourinho defends Paul Pogba over red card in United defeat of Arsenal

Paul Pogba of Manchester United is shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner for stamping on Hector Bellerin of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester...

José Mourinho claimed that Paul Pogba had not set out to hurt Héctor Bellerín in the flashpoint that led to a straight red card for the Manchester United midfielder in his team’s 3-1 win at Arsenal.

The manager could sing the praises of David de Gea, who made 14 saves to equal a Premier League record – some of them of the jaw-dropping variety – but the Pogba sending-off on 74 minutes left a bitter taste.

The Frenchman had been excellent but the referee, Andre Marriner, had no option but to dismiss him for a lunge that finished with his studs in the back of Bellerín’s leg.

Mourinho said that Pogba was unhappy at the reaction of the Arsenal captain and his France team-mate, Laurent Koscielny, in the aftermath of the tackle. Pogba’s suspension will see him miss next Sunday’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford.

“I didn’t see the red card [incident],” Mourinho said. “I was not even looking in that direction. No television yet for me. I just know that Paul is frustrated and a bit disappointed with this colleague, Koscielny, with this kind of reaction. He is very frustrated because everybody knows that Paul is a clean player and it was not his intention, not at all, to be close to a red card.”

It was a pulsating contest, with United racing into an early two-goal lead, thanks, in part, to Arsenal defensive lapses. The home team came back and, time and again, they were denied by De Gea. After Alexandre Lacazette had made it 2-1 early in the second half, De Gea produced an incredible double save to keep out Lacazette and Alexis Sánchez. Jesse Lingard promptly made it 3-1 on the counter-attack.

“I told [De Gea] after the match that what I saw today was the best goalkeeper in the world,” Mourinho said. “You needthe keeper to be there for you. De Gea has made amazing saves but I think [the Arsenal goalkeeper] Petr Cech had an amazing save from Lingard, too. It was two of the best goalkeepers in the world on the pitch. Petr has a great history in the Premier League and David will make a similar impact.”

The Pogba red card was not the only controversy. Arsenal were denied two late penalties by Marriner for challenges by the United substitute Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling on another substitute, Danny Welbeck, and Lacazette, respectively.

Mourinho suggested that the Arsenal players had been guilty of diving while he also raged at Marriner’s decision to show only a yellow card to Koscielny rather than a red for a last-man foul on Romelu Lukaku at the very end.

“I know the pitch is amazing and maybe that breeds a desire to go to the floor – if it was hard, no; if it was mud, no – but the pitch is absolutely beautiful,” Mourinho said. “I think they were a bit too much.

“I also don’t want to forget my congratulations to both medical departments. My medical department managed to recover [Nemanja] Matic from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes’ [after an injury] but the Arsenal medical department managed to recover a player [Lacazette] from a ‘no’ to a complete 90 minutes. Amazing. I congratulate them.”

De Gea told BT Sport : “It’s a win. The team defended well for 90 minutes. It was a good game against Arsenal, we scored three goals but then lost control. It was difficult.”

Arsène Wenger said that he was upset about the referee not awarding any penalties to his Arsenal side. “I have to watch them again but I thought they were [penalties]. I hope at Old Trafford it will be the same. Last night, I watched Napoli vs Juventus on TV and we watched a top-class referee [Daniele Orsato]. If you want to analyse well, watch the difference between them and us and then you will see.”

Wenger added: “When you have 33 shots in a game of this stature as we did, it means our dominance was top-class but I’m angry and disappointed as we have nothing to show for it.

“We have produced an excellent performance but we have conceded three goals. We didn’t start well at the back at all and, even at 2-1, we made another mistake at the back. We had at least 10 chances and we were not efficient enough in the box. That is the reality.”

The win puts United five points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City ahead of their game with West Ham on Sunday.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner at the Emirates Stadium, for The Observer on Saturday 2nd December 2017 22.46 Europe/London

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