Arsenal boss Wenger labels Chelsea striker Costa ‘clever’

Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts after he is brought down by Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker.

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Arsene Wenger labelled Diego Costa ‘clever’ after the striker was involved in the incident which saw Per Mertesacker sent off during Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.

Mertesacker was shown a straight red by referee Mark Clattenburg after just 18 minutes at the Emirates for bringing down Costa when he was in on goal.

The forward, who was involved Gabriel’s red card against Chelsea earlier this season, gave the visitors the lead five minutes later with a strike that eventually handed the visitors all three points, leaving Arsenal boss Wenger frustrated.

"We had a mountain to climb with 10 men but even then, I believe there was enough there to come away with a 1-1 draw," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"We cannot influence the decision of the referee. Costa got two player sent off in two games on our side so he’s clever.

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"Mertesacker made the challenge but I said he got Mertesacker sent off. You cannot say it’s not true."

He added: "In the first game he got Gabriel sent off and today he got Mertesacker sent off.

"Did he touch him or not? I will have to watch it again but the fact is the fact. I do not accuse him of anything it’s just what happened."

Defeat means Arsenal have now not beaten Chelsea in their last nine Premier League meetings, but Wenger was pleased with his team’s efforts.

"It’s such a shame to put so much energy into a game and come away with nothing," he said.

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"Overall I felt we gave absolutely everything until the end and we should come out of the game with at least a 1-1, even though we were down to 10 men.

"We had many opportunities, maybe not clear cut but you think one of them we should take. That’s our regret that the team put so much effort in and you come out without any points. "

Arsenal are third in the Premier League, level on points with Manchester City but three points adrift of leaders Leicester.

However, Wenger still believes his side are in what he thinks will be a tight race until the end.

"The emotional damage is there because of the disappointment but what is important is the points more than emotional damage," he said.

"It hasn’t changed. It will be very tight until the end and that you have many teams involved in it."