Arsene Wenger refused to concede ground in his Arsenal side’s bid to claim a Champions League place despite their failure to beat rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a controversial North London derby at White Hart Lane.
A scoreless draw meant Wenger’s side remain in fifth place, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with 13 games remaining.
But despite playing the majority of the game with ten-men following Emmanuel Eboue’s 37th minute dismissal after he kicked out at Luca Modric to earn a second yellow card, Wenger was adamant his side should have claimed all three points.
He claimed they were denied only by the decision of referee Mike Dean to disallow a 13th minute effort by Eboue who was adjudged to have pushed Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate immediately before placing the ball in the net.
“I believe we had a resilient, committed attitude and I’m proud of our attitude during the 90 minutes, but it’s two points dropped,” Wenger said.
“We had the best chances, we scored a regular goal that was cancelled out by an illusionary foul seen only by the referee,” he said.
“I’ve seen it two times and I still do not know why it was disallowed. He saw a push from Eboue, but it is Woodgate who pushes him and stumbles over and falls down. It’s nothing. It’s not acceptable in games like that,” Wenger said.
Eboue’s dismissal also brought criticism from the Arsenal manager who believes his player’s first caution, for failing to retreat 10m at a free-kick, was dubious.
“I am frustrated,” he said. “But the first yellow card was very harsh. You have players who make 15 fouls in the game and don’t get booked. I didn’t see the second one. If he has retaliated he deserves a yellow and then a red. It doesn’t matter who saw it.”
With Emmanuel Adebayor pulling up with a hamstring problem that will keep him out for three weeks, Arsenal’s hopes of forcing their way back into the top four appear to be receding.
But Wenger insisted: “I believe that we will keep going, we have a momentum. We didn’t score today, but we haven’t lost for 11 games now. So we just keep going. I just believe that’s it.”
Redknapp took a polar opposite view of the game to Wenger, claiming his side had done enough to win.
The Spurs manager said: “I must have been at a different game today. I thought I saw Tottenham dominate the game. Even when it was eleven against eleven. We must have been at different games.”
He said: “What did Mr Wenger think Eboue’s goal was? Maybe he saw an illusionary ‘non-foul.’ I don’t know.”