Rodgers rues ‘unfair’ Suárez treatment after FA Cup loss

2014-02-17 09:38

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London – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Luis Suárez’s reputation is being unfairly held against him after the striker was denied a penalty in his side’s FA Cup defeat at Arsenal.

Having earlier won a penalty that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard converted to bring Liverpool back into yesterday’s game after Arsenal had gone 2-0 up, Suárez was clearly fouled by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

But referee Howard Webb elected not to award a penalty despite having a clear view of the incident and Arsenal held out for a 2-1 victory that set up a quarterfinal tie at home to Everton.

Suárez has often been criticised for going to ground too easily during his time in England, but Rodgers believes the Uruguayan’s reputation should not have influenced Webb’s decision.

Citing an incident earlier in the season when Suárez had a penalty appeal turned down during a game at Chelsea, Rodgers said: “He’s always asking questions of defenders and quite a lot of the time he doesn’t get what he deserves.

“The one at Chelsea was a clear penalty. He’s got a penalty but should’ve deservedly had two penalties today [Sunday]. And if it is a penalty, he should have it, irrespective of what his reputation is.

“I thought that was quite an easy decision for the ref. Luis has a touch, gets around him and it looks a blatant penalty.”

But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who made an unsuccessful attempt to sign Suárez last year, feels the former Ajax player’s reputation for diving is rooted in fact.

He said: “I rate Suárez as a player. If we had him in the team we’d have a few more free-kicks.

“But it’s always difficult to know with him – was it really genuine contact? It was contact, I don’t deny that, but he’s very good to make more of it every time.”

Webb created further controversy by not showing Gerrard a second yellow card for a second-half foul on Oxlade-Chamberlain. But Rodgers supported the official over his handling of the incident.

“I think it was a foul. I’m not so sure it was a yellow card. Howard used his common sense. He got that correct,” he said.

Arsenal’s victory avenged their crushing 5-1 defeat at Liverpool in the Premier League last weekend and also vindicated Wenger’s decision to make seven changes to his starting 11.

Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Olivier Giroud were left out as Wenger kept one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich.

Wenger praised goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and 21-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo, who marked his first start for the club by playing an important role in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 16th-minute opener.

He said: “For a first performance, he was excellent. He was always in the game, was a handful for them. Considering the intensity of the game, it was absolutely excellent.”

Wenger also hit back at Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho who branded the Frenchman a “specialist in failure” during a media conference on Friday.

Mourinho was responding to a remark from Wenger that managers who have ruled their teams out of the title race – as Mourinho has on several occasions – must be afraid of falling short.

However, Wenger said his comment was not a direct reference to Mourinho and described the Chelsea manager’s reaction as “silly” and “disrespectful” in a television interview.

During a subsequent press conference, he added: “I’m embarrassed for him, honestly. I’m more disappointed for Chelsea than for me.

“I’m not interested in the subject at all. That is really genuine. If you are interested and you have nothing better to do in your life, you are free to do it.

“Honestly, I cannot force my interest in things that are not interesting for me. I love football, and I’m sorry to disappoint you [the media], but what’s interesting for me is what happens on the pitch.”

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