By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger wants a rethink on how stoppage time is calculated.

The issue came to the fore last weekend when Manchester United snatched a last-gasp winner against their city rivals at Old Trafford.

Four minutes of added time were indicated by the fourth official shortly before Manchester City grabbed their third equaliser of the game. But the match had entered its 96th minute by the time Michael Owen secured a 4-3 victory for the champions.

City boss Mark Hughes was left seething but the referee Martin Atkinson was vindicated when time for a stoppage-time substitution and City’s own goal celebration was taken into account.

Nonetheless, Wenger believes that stoppage-time – and how it is measured – remains a grey area. The Arsenal manager wants to see the rules tightened to avoid controversy in the future.

“I'm not happy with things like they are at the moment,” said Wenger.

“I am happy to give the responsibility to the referee but I would like that we are given strict rules of how they calculate the time remaining.

“Nobody knows really - is it 30 seconds for a substitution, is it not? Do they take the real time when a player is down, do they calculate the time when they call the physio on the pitch or when the player goes down? Nobody knows how it is calculated.

“It is always a question mark at the end of the game to know really how long you will play.

“Inside the injury time the referee can decide that he will play for longer, that's why it's important that you give him the freedom to make that decision. But also the rules must be better explained because nobody knows really how that decision is made. We have to trust them but we would like to know as well how they make the decision.”

Man United benefited from the extra minutes allowed at Old Trafford last weekend but Wenger was quick to point out that stoppage time does not necessarily benefit the home side.

“The demonstration that some teams play longer at home is not convincing at all because you could say as well it is an advantage not to play injury time at home,” he said.

“Why? Because you're leading. So it could have the reverse effect than what you want it to demonstrate. And that is that the team who has the advantage at home is the team who plays less injury time than any other team.”

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25 Sep 2009