Petr Cech says he had little choice but to concede an indirect free-kick when Nacho Monreal’s overhit and misdirected back pass threatened an own goal for Sunderland out of the blue.
Arsenal recovered from the scare on 48 minutes and went on to win the match 2-0 courtesy of a brace by Alexis Sanchez.
Although replays seem to show the Spaniard’s mis-kick was probably going wide, the Gunners keeper decided it was better not to take a risk and scrambled the ball around his post with his hands.
After consulting his assistant referee Roger East awarded an indirect free-kick just six yards from the goal line. The set piece was eventually cleared for a corner by Granit Xhaka after a clever flick over the wall by Seb Larsson.
Reflecting on the unusual situation, Cech explained: “Well it’s a mis-kick because obviously he [Monreal] wanted to pass it a completely different way.
“I was not sure whether it goes in or wide [if I didn’t touch it] because you don’t want to take any chances so I touched it and helped it a little bit wide, which I thought was going to be a corner because I didn’t catch the ball and I didn’t win a backpass.
“I don’t know, a lot of things can happen! I thought it was mis-kick and it would’ve been a corner, in the end the referee decided for a backpass which he has the right to do. The situation became a bit confusing because it is very hard, you have it on the goal-line so where do you put the players.
“I know the rule in this way says you need to be 10 yards or on the goal-line and everybody was everywhere so I think it was kind of a strange situation and I have to say we dealt with it well and that is the main important thing.”
Last night’s victory means Arsenal still have an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League if they beat Everton on Sunday. It’s not ideal having to rely on Middlesbrough to get a result against Liverpool at Anfield but Cech insists his teammates must only worry about their own performance.
“Everything is possible but we have a difficult game ourselves,” continued the 34 year-old.
“Obviously they are a team who fights for the Europa League, obviously, so we try to get as many points and even if they can’t reach it, they will come here and they will try to finish the last game of their season. So it’s always important for everybody but as I said, we gave ourselves another chance.
“If we win our game, we do our job then we can sit and wait.”