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The Italian striker escaped punishment for his tackle on Alex Song in the first half of Arsenal's victory, but was eventually sent off for a second bookable offense.

Arsene Wenger believes Mario Balotelli should have been sent off sooner in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Manchester City.

The Italian striker clattered into Bacary Sagna on a number of occasions in the first half, and was lucky the referee did not see his dangerous tackle on Alex Song.

He calmed down somewhat in the second half before inexplicably crashing into Sagna again and earning himself his second yellow card of the match with seconds remaining of normal time.

"If the referee had a television it would have been a red card," Wenger told reporters after the match. "He was on the fringe in many situations. He flirted with orange [between yellow and red cards] a few times. In the end he got the second yellow card.

"I don’t know him too much and I don’t want to interfere with Mancini’s job. Everybody has his own case in his own camp and I have enough work. I thought it was a bad tackle. I thought maybe it was a red but I didn't know until I saw it."

Mikel Arteta’s goal was the only difference between the two sides, his 25-yard strike with three minutes left on the clock earning Arsenal a vital win in the hunt for the Champions League places.

"It was a very well taken goal and it gave us three points we deserved because we had consistent domination in the game," Wenger said. "We had over 60 percent possession and Manchester City had one or two good moments but after 10 minutes in the second half it was all us. I always felt the goal would come.

"We kept going and at home recently we have produced some outstanding performances against anybody and the team continues to grow in quality."

The loss at the Emirates Stadium leaves City eight points adrift of Premier League leader Manchester United, with only six games remaining in the league the gap is becoming ominous.


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