Arsène Wenger has praised Arsenal attitude that saw the team get a 2-2 draw at Tottenham stadium on Saturday (5 March), despite playing with 10-men most of the second half, after Francis Coquelin received a second yellow card in the 55th minute of the game for a foul on Harry Kane. The boss admitted the French midfielder deserved the dismissal for his "mistake" but "couldn't understand" that Eric Dier finished the game for Spurs as the England international should also have been sent off.
Tottenham appeared to be heading for the victory after taking the most of Coquelin's dismissal to overturn Aaron Ramsey's first-half opener with two goals from Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane. However, Alexis Sánchez scored a goal with 14 minutes to play to rescue Arsenal a point and leave Spurs without the chance to go top of the Premier League.
"We showed good attitude and character and I'm happy and proud of our performance and attitude. We refused to lose the game," Wenger said. "We have as well big regrets because I could not see how 11 against 11 could have dropped points today. We made a mistake at 1-0 when it was 11 against 11 but even though we had a shock loss and it went to 2-1, we refused to lose the game. We always looked dangerous going forward."
In this sense, Wenger accepted the referee was right to send off Coquelin but believes Dier should have also seen the red card.
"I think the referee should come into the press room after the game as well. We are questioned, they should be questioned as well. Then he could give you an answer," he said although admitting Coquelin was the one to blame for his dismissal.
"I didn't have to say a lot to (Coquelin) him after that tackle. He made a mistake and he knows he made a big mistake. At halftime, we warned him as well and it was a mistake. He wanted to do well and mistimed his tackle and got sent off. You cannot complain about it." the Arsenal boss said. "I can complain that Dier was not sent off. I couldn't understand that."
"No (Coquelin didn't let down us). Let down is a big word. He made a mistake and he has to quickly learn from that because at a top level it is full commitment and 100% in all the duels in a controlled way. He got a yellow card because he made a mistake to go down on the tackle."
One way or another Arsenal refused to accept the defeat and fight back until getting the draw though Sánchez's goal. Wenger praised the Chilean international performance, hoping the goal helps him as a boost to regain his best form in the last crucial part of the campaign.
"He (Sánchez) had a great attitude today. I hope that will give him needed confidence and encouragement to continue and the goal will give him a lift. Certainly, it will give him a bigger a lift now."