Wenger criticizes decision to switch Stoke-Tottenham referee

Arsene Wenger admits he is "surprised and disappointed" by the decision to switch referee Kevin Friend off Monday's crucial clash between Stoke and Tottenham.

Friend, who is a Bristol City fan but lives in Leicestershire and has attended Leicester matches with friends, has been replaced by Neil Swarbrick for the match at the Britannia Stadium after his initial appointment attracted criticism from fans on message boards and social media.

Leicester currently lead Spurs by seven points at the top of the Premier League table and a statement from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited on Thursday confirmed the decision to act.

More from FoxSports

"Given the timing and context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment," the statement read.

However, Wenger does not believe it was right to take Friend out of the firing line.

"I am surprised and disappointed," he said. "It questions the integrity of the referee and sets a dangerous precedent. The solution is you don't look where they come from and who they support, you just pick the best referees.

"I am not a specialist of judging referees - we have to accept they make more mistakes and give them more support with more technology and treat them as professionals who make decisions which are not based on their emotions."