• Premier League

Van der Vaart should have been sent off - Wenger

ESPNsoccernet staff
October 2, 2011
Arsene Wenger felt Rafael van der Vaart handled the ball in the build-up to his opening goal for Tottenham © Getty Images

Arsene Wenger felt Rafael van der Vaart should have been sent off in Sunday's derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, but he blamed his own side's poor defending for the 2-1 defeat.

Arsenal slipped a goal behind at White Hart Lane when Van der Vaart volleyed past Wojciech Szczesny, but Aaron Ramsey equalised early in the second half. However, a Szczesny mistake from a Kyle Walker drive handed Spurs the points, leaving Arsenal 15th in the Premier League.

Wenger reflected on the decisions of the officials after Van der Vaart's goal appeared to feature shades of handball in the build-up. The Netherlands international then celebrated in the crowd, which Wenger pointed out should have been a second yellow card.

"I think the first goal was handball and second yellow card," Wenger said on Sky Sports. "The referee maybe cannot see it, but how can the linesman not see it?"

Once again Arsenal's defence left a lot to be desired at White Hart Lane, with Szczesny forced to work overtime for the majority of the afternoon. The young keeper then made the decisive mistake, and Wenger confessed poor defending had cost Arsenal.

"We lost a game when we were on top. We conceded two poor goals," the Frenchman moaned. "After the second goal, I think we defended badly and made two or three mistakes in the same situation. Overall, it is a game we have come out of very disappointed because we feel we should not have lost it.

"It bothers me, of course. We are not where we want to be and it is important we respond quickly. And that is down to the next game."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp praised young defender Walker, who has spent time on loan with QPR and Aston Villa before finding his way into the first team. "He's a great attacking full-back and he loves to get forward,'' Redknapp said. "It was a good strike from Kyle. He's done ever so well and he's had a good start to the season.

"They had a lot of possession in the first-half. It was difficult. They played with three in midfield with one up and so they were always going to hold sway in terms of possession. I played two strikers so I went for a very attacking team and we got the goal before half-time.

"To be honest I nearly made a change before half-time to thicken us up in there but I thought we'll see how we go. They got off to a better start in the second-half but we upped it and got better and stronger and in the second-half we had all the chances."

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