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Wenger fights UEFA ban

Arsenal flew out to Italy today with manager Arsene Wenger facing another touchline ban for tomorrow's crunch Champions League play-off against Udinese, which could see the Gunners nightmare start to the season take another turn for the worse.

Wenger was yesterday found guilty of failing to abide by UEFA rules surrounding his original ban -- imposed after last season's last-16 defeat by Barcelona when he had criticised the referee -- after he passed messages to the coaching staff at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg, before being warned not to continue by match delegates at half-time.

UEFA also fined Arsenal €10,000 for the improper conduct of their officials during the match.

Arsenal, though, maintain officials from Europe's governing body had told them in the build-up to the game that Wenger would be permitted to relay instructions to assistant manager Pat Rice through first-team coach Boro Primorac, who was in telephone contact with the Arsenal bench, and the club will appeal.


Because of the ban, Wenger decided against fulfilling his post-match media commitments, a pattern which he could well follow again at the Stadio Friuli should UEFA uphold their decision.

The news is the latest blow to the Gunners, who are going through one of the toughest spells of Wenger's tenure.

Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at home by Liverpool on Saturday, when they were without Alex Song and Gervinho, both serving suspensions in the fall-out from the ill-tempered goalless draw at Newcastle.

However, the duo will be available for the European tie, along with captain Robin van Persie, who was banned for the first leg after his red card in the Nou Camp.

Should Wenger again select contract rebel Samir Nasri, it would cup-tie the France midfielder and prevent him for playing with another team in the competition, as talk of a £22m switch to Manchester City continues.

Arsenal, though, could see midfielder Jack Wilshere return from his ankle problem.