Frustrated Wenger claims refs are protected 'like lions in the zoo'

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed referees are protected "like lions in the zoo" following a week in which he has been left angered by what he considered contentious decisions by officials.

The Frenchman was left seething by the late awarding of a corner to Everton which Ashley Williams headed home to seal a 2-1 win for the home side at Goodison Park in midweek.

Wenger's mood worsened on Sunday when he suggested that both Manchester City goals should have been disallowed in the Gunners' 2-1 reverse to their Premier League title rivals.

The 66-year-old told Sky Sports that "enough is enough" after accusing referee Martin Atkinson and his assistants of failing to spot offside infringements from Leroy Sane - scorer of City's equaliser - and David Silva, who ran close to Petr Cech's line of sight for Raheem Sterling's winner.

And Wenger continued to vent his frustration at a post-match news conference, using a somewhat bizarre metaphor to convey his feelings.

"They [City] slow down, they went down [in tempo] and it was difficult to create a flow. And on top of all of that, we conceded two offside goals, which is difficult to accept in a game of that stature," he said.

"But, as it is well known, the referees are protected very well, like the lions in the zoo. So we have to live with those decisions.

"I want them to be very well protected and to be safe, but safe and a good decision is even better. But I don't want to make the referees the subject of a press conference.

"City look very happy. I would be as well."

Wenger also appeared visibly frustrated with his goalkeeper Cech in the closing stages at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal had the chance to launch a free-kick into City's area deep into second-half stoppage time, but Cech opted to race from his goal and take a short pass to Mesut Ozil, prompting Atkinson to blow for full-time.

On the incident, Wenger added: "I was upset because I don't see, with 20 seconds to go, why you play a short free-kick when you could put it in the box.

"The referee took the advantage of stopping the game on the first short pass but he would have let the ball be played in the box. So why should we take a risk there? We know the referee takes advantage of that."