• Manager unhappy with referee after 2-1 defeat by Arsenal
• Luis Suárez appeared to be knocked over in penalty area
Brendan Rodgers will demand an explanation for Howard Webb's decision not to award Liverpool a "blatant" penalty after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared to knock over Luis Suárez in the Arsenal box at a "defining moment" in a thrilling FA Cup fifth-round tie.
If a spot-kick had been given Liverpool would have had an ideal opportunity to equalise six minutes after pulling the score back to 2-1, thanks to a penalty that Steven Gerrard converted after a previous foul on Suárez. But, to Rodgers' bitter disappointment, Webb deemed Oxlade-Chamberlain's clumsy-looking challenge to have been fair.
"You can't change it but I'll speak to an assessor or someone because it would be nice to know why it wasn't given," said Rodgers, who wondered whether the fact that the incident happened so soon after the first penalty played a part in Webb's decision.
"For the first one Luis was clipped and the second one was even clearer. Howard was in a great position. I'm not sure whether it was because it was so quickly after the first one. It looks a blatant penalty, so we're bitterly disappointed to have not got that because that would have kept our momentum going for the final stages, when we were on top."
Suárez has been accused of simulating fouls in the past but Rodgers believes that his striker is unjustly maligned and opponents regularly get away with illegally stopping him. He cited an unpunished foul in the box by Samuel Eto'o on the Uruguayan during Liverpool's Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge as another example. "We're a team that is really aggressive in our attacking and we provoke a lot of challenges," he said. "Especialy Luis, who is always in and around the box and asking questions of defenders. Quite a lot of the time he doesn't get what he deserves. The one at Chelsea was a clear penalty. If it is a penalty it should happen, irrespective of what reputation he's got. I thought that was quite an easy decision to make [against Arsenal]."
Arsène Wenger, however, was not convinced. The Frenchman, who famously attempted to sign Suárez last summer, suggested the striker may have been guilty of exaggerating.
"Honestly, you know I rate Suárez as a player but, if we had him in our team, we would have a few more free-kicks," he said. "It's always difficult to know with him if it is really genuinely contact. It was contact, I do not deny. But he is very good at making more of it every time."
Webb was also criticised by Arsenal fans for not sending off Gerrard after the midfielder, who had already been booked, chopped down Oxlade-Chamberlain near the Liverpool corner flag late in the match. Rodgers felt the referee was right that time. "Of course it wasn't," he replied when asked whether he thought Gerrard's tackle deserved a second booking.
He then laughed knowingly, aware that would draw allegations of hypocrisy, before explaining: "Nowadays with every challenge everyone talks about it having to be a yellow card. It was a foul but I'm not so sure it was worth a yellow. Howard's used his common sense because the player [Oxlade-Chamberlain] was going nowhere."
Rodgers was pleased with his team's "outstanding" performance, noting with some justification that Liverpool could have scored "five or six more goals" but ultimately Arsenal's superior finishing saw the north London club through to the next round, where they will face Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger described the victory as a perfect response to the 5-1 humbling that his team suffered against the same opponents at Anfield last week and the ideal preparation for Wednesday's Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich. "It was vital to respond to the disappointing performance at Liverpool last week," he said. "I'm very pleased with the intensity, commitment and determination. You could feel a clinical desire in my team to take every opportunity."