Angry Wenger fumes over bad timing

SUNDERLAND, United Kingdom, Sept 19, 2010 (AFP) - Arsene Wenger insisted there was no confrontation with fourth official Martin Atkinson as Arsenal were denied top spot in the Premier League thanks to Darren Bent's dramatic injury-time goal in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

England international Bent, who grew up as an Arsenal supporter, scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time after Atkinson had indicated a minimum of four would be added on, to spark a melee near the technical area.

Fourth official Martin Atkinson (L) speaks with Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger (R) after Sunderland's late equalizing goal in the match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, on September 18, 2010. AFP

"Take the pictures and look at it. I complained to nobody," Wenger insisted in a curt post-match press conference.

The Football Association are likely to probe the incident.

Alex Song was sent off early in the second-half for the Gunners, who were left to rue a late penalty miss by Tomas Rosicky.

Wenger had praise for his team, who trail Chelsea by two points after missing an opportunity to leapfrog the leaders.

The Frenchman, clearly still fuming at the circumstances in which his side were denied two priceless points, refused to discuss the display of Phil Dowd, the referee.

The Arsenal manager added: "I don't comment on any decision by the referee. You saw the game like I did. Don't ask me to comment on any of the referee's decisions."

On the timing of Bent's fifth goal of the season to cancel out a freak early strike by Cesc Fabregas, who limped off before half-time with a hamstring injury to make him a doubt for Tuesday's League Cup meeting with north London rivals Tottenham, Wenger added: "If you have a watch you can control it. It's as simple as that."

Wenger refused to single out substitute Rosicky's costly miss as the turning point.

"We had problems at the start in the first-half, but the performance was good. In the second-half we controlled the game, even though we had 10 men," said Wenger.

"Unfortunately in the 95th minute Sunderland scored their equaliser but I was very pleased with the performance and we showed all the ingredients of a good team.

"We started slowly but we did well in the second time. We had chances to kill the game but we didn't. The back four did well but we made a mistake on the goal."

After Sunderland enhanced their reputation for upping their game against the Premier League big guns, manager Steve Bruce insisted his Black Cats deserved at least a point.

"On our first-half performance alone we got what we deserved. We created plenty of chances and I was particularly pleased with the way we stuck at it and got our reward," said Bruce.

"We found it more difficult against 10 men but by the letter of the law Song had to go. I feel for Arsene, it's never easy to take when you concede so late on. I know how he feels.

"The complaint is that we played 15 seconds over. The referee is within his rights to play it because it's a minimum of four minutes. You have to play to the whistle and understand the disappointment. The gripe is about the 15 seconds." 

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