Penalty call irks Wenger as Gunners pegged back



ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insisted his side has been unfairly denied a penalty after Danny Graham’s 87th-minute equaliser denied them a place in the FA Cup fourth round.

Wenger fumed at referee Howard Webb’s failure to penalise a trip on midfielder Aaron Ramsey, arguing the official had seen the foul but let off Swansea’s Dwight Tiendalli.

A lively tie saw Michu put the hosts ahead on the hour, before substitute Lukas Podolski and a fine volley from full-back Kieran Gibbs appeared to have sent Arsenal through.

“It was one and the referee saw it,” Wenger said of the penalty claim. “You know why he didn’t give it? Because he thought the guy had not done it on purpose. It was accidental but he [Ramsey] didn’t trip himself. He was caught clearly by the leg of the Swansea player. He had a hesitation, the referee, and in the end he didn’t give it.”

A replay a week on Wednesday for the right to face Brighton means Arsenal could play seven times this month, though Wenger resisted suggestions it would increase pressure to make January signings.

“Let’s first keep the players we have and maybe add one or two,” he said. “We lost [Marouane] Chamakh and [Johan} Djourou [both on loan], so there’s some room.”

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup rested regular starters Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Angel Rangel, while Wenger left Thomas Vermaelen and Podolski on the bench, and both sets of subs would prove decisive.

Former Arsenal defender Kyle Bartley’s header onto the top of the bar was the best chance of a tepid first half, but Michu ignited the contest on 58 minutes within seconds of coming off the bench.

The Spanish forward lifted a loose ball over Per Mertesacker, who he tormented in the 2-0 Premier League win in north London last month, and held off two defenders before stroking past Wojciech Szczesny.

Gunners striker Olivier Giroud headed off-target and Theo Walcott dragged a shot wide before Podolski spun and rifled past Michel Vorm after Swansea had failed to clear a corner in the 81st minute.

Left-back Gibbs looked to have clinched the comeback two minutes later when he played a one-two with Giroud on the edge of the penalty area before lashing a volley high past Vorm. But Arsenal’s familiar defensive frailties were exposed again just moments later when a Swansea corner caused chaos and Graham swept home the equaliser.