An angry Arsène Wenger criticised Granit Xhaka for the “stupid mistake” that led to Jesé Rodríguez’s winner for Stoke City against Arsenal, though the manager claimed Alexandre Lacazette’s 72nd-minute strike was wrongly ruled offside.

Rodríguez’s debut finish came two minutes into the second half of the 1-0 victory when Xhaka lost the ball near the halfway line and Saido Berahino passed to the Spaniard who beat Petr Cech.

“This is a kind of night when you are angry because not only did we not score for the number of chances we had, we made stupid mistakes centrally – first by losing the ball and then we didn’t defend properly for the goal,” the Arsenal manager said. “On top of that, we were unlucky with some decisions from the referee.”

Wenger was furious that Lacazette was denied an equaliser despite replays appearing to show he had a foot in an offside position. The Frenchman was insistent, though: “100% it was onside,” Wenger said. “I just watched it and it’s not offside at all. Even his foot was not offside but we have to swallow that. We should have scored [elsewhere] and it’s just another detail that didn’t go our way. I believe we lost three big points today. In football when you don’t win games you should win you can only look at yourself.”

Wenger was also aggrieved Arsenal were not awarded a penalty. “Of course – we don’t get penalties, we know that,” he said. “I can get the numbers, you will see. Look at the statistics: we had the highest penalties against us at home by a mile [last season], and the lowest for us.”

Wenger was forced to defend Mesut Özil, who was branded a liability by the BT Sport pundit Steven Gerrard. “Personally I don’t think he deserves it,” the manager said.

Alexis Sánchez could be in the squad for next Sunday’s trip to Liverpool following an abdominal strain. “If all goes well through the week he should be available for selection,” said Wenger, who added he wants to lighten numbers. “I expect to sell players. We have too many players and it’s not manageable and may clubs are in this position. We have 33 players and that’s too much.”

Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager, said of Rodríguez: “He’s an elite player. A player that can change games, I’m delighted he’s here. He’s not up to speed yet. He’s only had one significant training session and missed a week’s training last week because his new-born child had a minor operation. But he came in and wanted to make an impression and really enjoyed his first taste of the Premier League.”

Rodriguez said: “Coming here from Spain I realise the Premier League is tough and it’s great to get the first win of the season. Nothing comes easy in football. Stoke are a historic club and I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the lads. It’s a great opportunity for me. They’ve got a lot of great players.”

This article was written by Jamie Jackson at the Bet365 Stadium, for The Observer on Saturday 19th August 2017 22.23 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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