Liverpool boss Rodgers not so jolly after referee rejects Suarez’s claim
Strikers’s penalty box tumble at a ‘defining moment’ of gripping match
Luis Suarez of Liverpool reacts during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on February 16th. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Brendan Rodgers will demand an explanation for Howard Webb’s decision not to award Liverpool a “blatant” penalty after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared to knock over Luis Suarez in the Arsenal box at a “defining moment” in a thrilling FA Cup fifth-round tie.
If it had been given Liverpool would have had an ideal opportunity to equalise six minutes after pulling the score back to 2-1, thanks to a penalty that Steven Gerrard converted after a previous foul on Suarez. But, to Rodgers’s bitter disappointment, Webb deemed Oxlade-Chamberlain’s challenge to have been fair.
“You can’t change it but I’ll speak to an assessor or someone because it would be nice to know why it wasn’t given,” said Rodgers, who wondered whether the fact that the incident happened so soon after the first penalty played a part in Webb’s decision.
“For the first one Luis was clipped and the second one was even clearer. Howard was in a great position . . . It looks a blatant penalty, so we’re bitterly disappointed . . . because that would have kept our momentum going for the final stages, when we were on top.”
Suarez has been accused of simulating fouls in the past but Rodgers believes that his striker is unjustly maligned and opponents regularly get away with illegally stopping him. “We’re a team that is really aggressive in our attacking and we provoke a lot of challenges,” he said. “Especially Luis, who is always in and around the box . . . quite a lot of the time he doesn’t get what he deserves.”
Arsene Wenger, however, was unconvinced. The French man, who attempted to sign Suarez last summer, suggested the striker may have been guilty of exaggerating.
“Honestly, you know I rate Suarez as a player but, if we had him in our team, we would have a few more free-kicks,” he said. “It’s always difficult to know with him . . . but he is very good at making more of it every time.”
Webb was also criticised by Arsenal fans for not sending off Gerrard after the midfielder, who had already been booked, chopped down Oxlade-Chamberlain near the Liverpool corner flag late in the match. Rodgers felt the referee was right that time. “Of course it wasn’t,” he replied when asked whether he thought Gerrard’s tackle deserved a second booking.
Rodgers was pleased with his team’s “outstanding” performance, but Arsenal’s superior finishing put the north London club through to the next round, where they will face Everton at the Emirates.
Wenger described the victory as a perfect response to the 5-1 humbling that his team suffered
at Anfield last week and the ideal preparation for the showdown with Bayern Munich. “It was vital to respond to the disappointing performance at Liverpool last week,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the . . . determination. You could feel a desire . . . to take every opportunity.”