Thursday 18 January 2018

Apologetic Arsenal boss facing touchline ban

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confronts fourth official Anthony Taylor at the Emirates. Photo: Reuters / Dylan Martinez
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confronts fourth official Anthony Taylor at the Emirates. Photo: Reuters / Dylan Martinez

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is facing a touchline ban despite his apology for pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor, after he had already been sent off for a furious outburst.

The FA will today study referee Jonathan Moss' report into the dramatic ending to Arsenal's win, but Wenger immediately admitted that he was in the wrong.

With Arsenal leading 1-0 but down to 10 men following the dismissal of Granit Xhaka, Wenger complained angrily to Taylor when Moss awarded a penalty against Francis Coquelin that allowed Burnley to equalise in injury-time.

Wenger was sent to the stands for his bad language, but then, as he stood at the edge of the tunnel and Taylor motioned for him to leave the side of the pitch completely, he twice put his hands on the fourth official.

Arsenal recovered to win the game with a controversial 97th-minute penalty and Wenger did not try to defend his behaviour.

"I didn't know if I was sent to the stands, but I was sent out," he said.

"I thought I could watch it from the corridor. I regret everything. I should have shut up, gone in and gone home. I apologise for that. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football.

"Nine times out of 10, you are not sent to the stand for that. If I am, I am, and I should have shut up completely.

"I had been quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just in the last 2-3 minutes..."

Wenger was unable to explain why he was so angry, although he said that his first thought was that Coquelin had not given away a foul.

It is not the first time that the Frenchman has clashed with opposition managers on the touchline, most famously when he shoved Jose Mourinho, who has persistently suggested that Wenger is treated more leniently by the FA.

There was a precedent in 2012 when Alan Pardew, then manager of Newcastle United, pushed assistant referee Peter Kirkup and received a two-game touchline ban and a fine of £20,000.

The Premier League launched a new 'zero tolerance' crackdown on abusive touchline behaviour at the start of the season and the FA also wants to reinvigorate its Respect campaign.

Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness believes Wenger was fortunate that a steward intervened.

"You just can't do this," he said. "The security man has done himself a big favour there by getting in the way."

Despite his own indiscipline, Wenger had a warning for Xhaka, who is suspended for the next four matches after a second straight red card of the season for a two-footed lunge on Steven Defour.

"He has to control his game and not punish the team with a lack of control in his tackling," he said. "We don't encourage our midfielders to go down on tackles."

Wenger felt Burnley's Ben Mee should have been sent off for the high challenge on Laurent Koscielny that led to Arsenal's penalty - although Koscielny was offside.

Arsenal also scored a late winner at Burnley this season when Koscielny was accused of handball.

"You can't believe the decision," said Burnley boss Sean Dyche. "The mad thing is they (assistant referees) have to wait until something happens to put the flag up. The linesman has to be brave. He's offside, simple as that.

"You don't want to be crying, you just hope for balance over the season. It has cost us another point, so that's two against Arsenal." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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