Wenger wants a line to be drawn


Published: Saturday 21st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes a line must be drawn over confronting referees – and that includes for himself.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has spoken of his concern over the “pretty scary increase” in such incidents, which have been highlighted recently in games such as when Chelsea’s players surrounded referee Bjorn Kuipers during their Champions League tie against Paris St Germain.

At the end of last year, the FA wrote to clubs to remind them of their responsibilities, with some 16 having been charged by the governing body already this season for failing to control their players.

Wenger believes it is a collective responsibility not to take complaints too far, and admits he often has to rein himself in, the latest coming on Wednesday night after berating Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen at half-time of Arsenal’s Champions League tie in Monaco where Alexis Sanchez had been cautioned for simulation.

“With the team I don’t think we have had too much of that problem, we have never been reproached for doing it, but I question myself on my individual behaviour, that is true, because I am sometimes keen to as well,” said Wenger, whose side will be out to sustain their impressive Barclays Premier League form at Newcastle on Saturday.

“We want everybody to be respected and the referees are part of everybody.

“You want players to be ready to fight for each other. But how far has that to go in the behaviour? You have to draw a line somewhere, you cannot go after every decision of the referee.

“You have to stop or you push the referees. How far can you go?”

Wenger accepts managers must also show constraint on the touchline, rather than continually bend the ear of the fourth official.

“Sometimes it helps you to get your frustration out, but I don’t think it is right, honestly. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it. I do,” he said.

“I have looked back on the tape sometimes, and even sometimes at half-time I think (to myself) ‘come on, stop that, my friend’, and then I think in the second half I will not say a word to him any more.”

While Wenger’s current Arsenal side are not high on the offenders list, that was not always the case when the French coach first arrived at Highbury in the late 1990s, and the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Martin Keown, Ian Wright and Tony Adams provided the backbone of the squad.

“We have less physical players and more technical players than before, that is true,” said Wenger, who once had to face a running list of the red cards under his tenure.

“We had the old guard from England who were more educated in the English style and ready for a fight every time.

“The game has changed. It was more physical, more direct and more open to challenges.

“Yes, the supporters like it, I like it as well, but at some stage you have to stop.”

Arsenal head to Newcastle looking to keep up the pressure on second-placed Manchester City, whom they now trail by just a point following a run of eight wins from the last nine Premier League games.

Wenger, though, admits to concerns over player burnout, with the likes of Sanchez having given so much in recent weeks.

“Yes, he is a bit (fatigued). Also, because he is in a position where he has scored less, he is a bit wants to force his game and then he is more included in physical battles,” said Wenger.

“Maybe his goalscoring is on his mind so he wants to do too much and he wants to force his game.

“I am tempted at some stage (to give him a rest), I have been for a long time.

“It is not that he won’t let me, I will decide that.

“It is just that every game now is so important, you always have a hesitation to do it.”

Published: Saturday 21st March 2015 by The News Editor

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