Claudio Ranieri was angry that Danny Simpson was shown two yellow cards for “normal” fouls in Leicester City’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Jamie Vardy had put the Foxes ahead with a penalty on the stroke of half-time having been tripped by Nacho Monreal but the game changed early in the second half when Simpson was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the space of five minutes.
Theo Walcott levelled for Arsenal after coming off the bench, but Leicester looked to have held out for a crucial point in the Premier League title battle before Danny Welbeck, another substitute, headed in a winner for the Gunners right at the end of stoppage time.
Ranieri believes Martin Atkinson may have been pressured by the home crowd into sending-off Simpson, arguing the right-back’s two fouls were not serious enough to warrant yellow cards.
Asked how his players were feeling, Ranieri said: “Very sad. Me too.
“My reaction is to laugh with you because I am strong and I want my players to follow me.
“If I think about the match I am very angry because I think maybe I make mistakes, but an international referee gives two yellow cards for normal fouls and the match was full of fouls.
“I remember the first half when we scored and there was a bad tackle from Aaron Ramsey and it was a yellow card, but it is not the same yellow card when Simpson stopped the other player.
“Maybe (he sent Simpson off) because the crowd pushed a lot and put him under pressure. But I am very proud of my players. They showed a fantastic performance.
“Also sometimes the referee stopped the time at 94 (minutes) – four minutes’ extra time. But there were five minutes’ extra time when they scored. Sometimes they stopped when it was a corner or a free-kick, finished. But it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. We continue to fight.”
Ranieri also revealed he has given his squad a week off, with no FA Cup commitments next weekend.
“It’s the same as if you won the match. ‘Go home, and we will see you next Monday’ because they deserve it. They made a fantastic performance today. They go, I don’t know where, Dubai maybe. They go wherever they want.”