Arsene Wenger bemoaned a “scandalous decision” to award Watford a penalty as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose 2-1 in injury time at Vicarage Road.
The Gunners led through Per Mertesacker’s header but the Hornets equalised when Troy Deeney converted from the spot after Hector Bellerin was adjudged to have fouled Richarlison.
Substitute Deeney’s strike with 19 minutes left set the scene for a stirring Watford finish, with Tom Cleverley converting in the closing seconds to send Watford fourth.
“I would say it was not a penalty,” said Arsenal manager Wenger. “It came at a moment in the game where it was absolutely important for Watford. No penalty, no goal.”
Deeney gave a scathing assessment of Wenger’s comments and the Gunners in general, telling BT Sport: “I’ve heard Wenger’s already saying the penalty is the reason they lost. Well, I’m not going to be one to tell Mr Wenger about himself, but there’s a reason they lost and it wasn’t because of one penalty.
“It’s having a bit of cojones. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think ‘let me whack the first one and see who wants it’.
“I came on today and jumped up with Mertesacker – I didn’t even have to jump, actually. I nodded it down, the crowd got up – ‘yeah we’ve got somebody who can win it’ – and they all just backed off.
“For me as a player, I just think ‘happy days’. That’s my strength – if you’re going to let me do my strength against you, you’re going to have a tough afternoon.”
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