Emery refuses to blame referee for Liverpool thrashing

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Arsenal were hammered 5-1 on Saturday, but their manager did not want to blame officials for two controversial penalties

Unai Emery refused to blame referee Michael Oliver following two contentious penalty calls in Arsenal's 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool.

Emery's side were battered at Anfield , with Liverpool comprehensive winners – Roberto Firmino scoring three, while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah got one each.

But the two goals which came from the penalty spot – Salah's effort and Firmino's third – were both somewhat controversial.

The first was won by Salah, as he went to ground under pressure from Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while the second was awarded when Sead Kolasinac appeared to nudge Dejan Lovren over.

Emery was under no illusion that the referee was not the one to blame, however, even if he suggested VAR would have worked in Arsenal's favour.

"The two last goals, two penalties, I think it's a lot for us," Emery told reporters. "I think VAR is important – it's coming next year, because I think it's going to help the referees to take better decisions.

"The result is clear. It's not [because of] the referee. There were some positives on the pitch - for example, Ainsley [Maitland-Niles] played as right winger and scored, working well.

"Also [Alex] Iwobi, after some matches not playing very well, today he played 90 minutes with a good performance, but defensively we need to be stronger, to work.

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"Our defensive moments in our box, it's my responsibility and then we need the balance. We need to keep the balance in the middle.

"We lost 5-1, we need to keep the balance in the middle, be serious and continue on Tuesday with a big match at the Emirates.

"We need to show our supporters there we are standing up after the result."

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