• Champions League

Wenger puts pressure on referee

ESPN staff
March 11, 2014
Wenger: History can help us

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can pull off a European coup by knocking out Bayern Munich, but only if the referee is on his game.

The manager has put pressure on Norwegian official Svein Oddvar Moen to ignore any histrionics after accusing the Germans of diving in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie and urged him to avoid sending offs.

Lights flash for ambulance driver

Mario Balotelli is sent off by the official © Getty Images
  • Arsene Wenger may want the referee for Tuesday's game to stay on alert for 'tricks' at the Allianz Arena but Svein Oddvar Moen is no stranger to the Champions League level or the team's who will be battling for a place in the quarter finals.
  • In fact, he should already be familiar to Arsenal fans, having taken charge of the first leg of their last-16 tie against Bayern Munich last season at Emirates Stadium. He even incorrectly awarded a corner to the home side, a mistake which led to their only goal in a 3-1 defeat.
  • Moen, an ambulance driver outside the game and the only Norwegian official on UEFA's elite list, has already taken charge of Manchester United's victory at Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea's win over Schalke this season, too.
  • And he is one of the seemingly many people who has been involved in an argument with Mario Balotelli: he harshly dismissed the striker during an Italy World Cup qualifier last season, prompting Balotelli to punch a wall in frustration.

A red card for Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny last month stacked the odds for progression heavily in Bayern's favour, allowing them to take a 2-0 advantage into Tuesday's second leg, and Wenger is tired of his club's treatment by officials in Europe.

He said: "What we want is a good referee and the closer they are to the tough leagues, the more chances they have to detect the tricks that can decide the game.

"We have played a few times with 10 men in Europe and always under very special circumstances. In the Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006], now against Bayern.

"When we played at Barcelona when we were in a position to qualify, it was a second yellow card and the only time I have seen that since I [have] watched European football, when [Robin] van Persie was sent off [for kicking the ball away], so I hope we get a fair chance to play with 11 against 11 until the end."

Wenger's comments relating to Moen and his coming from Norway contain faint echoes of Manuel Pellegrini's rant about Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson after Manchester City were beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League, when he claimed officials should come from bigger leagues.

However, as Wenger, returned to the venue where his side recorded a 2-0 victory against Bayern at the same stage of last season's Champions League, he claimed experience was the most important factor.

"Honestly, I never look at the referee before the game," he said. "I never have any preconceived ideas. Sometimes when referees have big experience it helps them get out of tricky situations.

"I think you do not want players to stay on the pitch who deserve to be sent off, but as well you do not want games to be killed, or the interest of the game to be killed, for reasons that are tricky."

No team in the Champions League have recovered from a 2-0 deficit after a home first leg to go through but Wenger believes reviving the memories of his side's win against Bayern at the Allianz Arena last season will prepare his players for mission "possible".

"The game last year was vital; it helped to convince us that we are a good side," Wenger said. "It's important to have the moment behind you that strengthens belief. The same result will get us to extra time [on Tuesday]. We have to try and surprise them at the start.

"On our side, we go there with nothing to lose and with a huge desire to do well. Let's exploit our desire and the strength in our huge combative side to put them in trouble.

"We have had a few good nights in Europe, but [if Arsenal win on Tuesday] it would be absolutely great. When you come to this stadium, you don't need anything else. Your motivation levels are already very high.

"The statistics are against us, but we have won everywhere in Europe, we won 5-1 at Inter Milan [in 2003] so it is a possible task, that is the most important thing. My team has quality and ambition. We know that we have to attack, but we also know we have to defend. We must find the right balance."

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