Arsene Wenger accused Diego Costa of getting Per Mertesacker sent off as Chelsea put a major dent in Arsenal’s title chances.
Wenger claimed Costa was “clever” after Mertesacker was red carded after making a last ditch tackle to stop him going clean through. Costa then rubbed salt in the wounds by scoring the winner.
Chelsea bad boy Costa also got Gunners defender Gabriel sent off when the teams met in September and Arsenal have failed to beat their London rivals in their last nine league games.
When asked whether Costa got Mertesacker sent off, Wenger said: “Yes. Of course. Mertesacker made the challenge but I said he got Mertesacker sent off. You cannot say it’s not true.
“Look, I have not seen it again. In the first game he got Gabriel sent off and today he got Mertesacker sent off. It’s a tackle regular or not. Did he touch him or not?
“I’d have to watch it again. But the fact is the fact. I do not accuse him of anything. It’s just what happened.
“I think it (the red card) was quick and harsh, but I have to watch it again. It was frustrating, of course, but it’s a decision we have to take on the chin and get on with our job. We did that.
“The team were focused and resilient, fighting to the last season. Despite the disappointing results, we should take more belief to our game by that performance.”
Wenger also suggested he felt Chelsea were there for the taking if they had 11 men.
“This was a special game. We played with 10 men. We were 1-0 down straight away. Normally, you’d lose a game like that 3-0 or 4-0, if you’re chasing a game,” said Wenger.
“We come out with a lot of regrets because we couldn’t play with ‘our’ team, and there was a lot of room to beat Chelsea today looking at them if we’d had 11 players.”
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink insisted referee Mark Clattenburg was right to award a red card to Mertesacker and also claimed they can still make top four after captain John Terry insisted they can still reach the Champions League places.
Hiddink said: “There was no doubt. He was hit and it was obvious it was a red card. I’d like to see the image and I’d give a fair judgement but, from what I saw, he was tripped. I’ve not seen the replay so far.
“Look closely on Mertesacker’s red card. I haven’t, but I have no doubts.
“If the captain (Terry) says yes then we’ll follow the captain. No, it’s a gap. It’s a gap. And if you see the results in the Premier League, and how competitive all teams are whether you are down or high in the ranking – look at Norwich v Liverpool yesterday, a beautiful game.
“But it means all teams can beat each other. Then, with that gap, it’s difficult to go into fourth position. But I will follow my captain.”