Arsène Wenger has criticised the decision to take Premier League referee Kevin Friend off duty for the Tottenham Hotspur’s match this weekend just because he’s a fan of title rivals Leicester City.

Spurs take on Stoke City on Monday night and Friend was supposed to be in charge of the game but, after some social media furore over him supporting the Foxes, the official has been removed from a game which could have huge repercussions in the title race.

For what it’s worth, Friend doesn’t referee Leicester City matches and north London clubs have won all five games he’s been referee for so far this season.

“The referees are professional people. When you’re a professional you’re supposed to be impartial no matter what happens,” said Arsène Wenger on Friday as he criticised the decision to take Friend off duty for the Tottenham game. “It is somewhere not believing completely the referee can be objective and impartial. It’s absolutely surprising to me that that happens.”

508906504 mathieu flamini of arsenal is shown a yellow gettyimages
If Friend allowed his allegiances to sway him on the pitch he certainly would’ve dismissed Mathieu Flamini for a horror tackle at Bournemouth. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Wenger, who has already bemoaned social media this season, seemed to accuse the Premier League of being weak after bending to the complaints of fans. After all, the Premier League and PGMOL are the ones with the responsibility to assess each referee and his suitability for matches, not fans behind keyboards.

Unwilling to face controversy, it appears the easy decision has been taken and the Premier League have come across as a little weak as a result.

“Well, the social media don’t dictate the rules and are not to dictate what happens with referees,” added the Arsenal manager, who is under heavy criticism each week on social media as fans deride him and his work. “In every single job, social media is one thing but they do not have to dictate. It’s people with responsibility at the top level who have to make these decisions and I’m completely surprised and disappointed by this decision.

“If you go that way it becomes a nightmare every week to choose a referee for every single game.”

So what should be done? Nothing, according to the Frenchman, who wouldn’t even be against Friend being appointed to Leicester City matches.

“The solution is you don’t look at where they come from or who they support, you put the best referees with the most important games”

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Usually found watching or talking about English or German football. Interested in tactics (but often despairing a lack of them). Favourite players: Bergkamp, Arteta, Özil