Sunday 21 January 2018

Arsenal relief as Wenger escapes stadium ban

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is sent to the stands by referee Jonathan Moss during last week’s game against Burnley. Photo: PA
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is sent to the stands by referee Jonathan Moss during last week’s game against Burnley. Photo: PA

Matt Law

Arsène Wenger has escaped a stadium ban for pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor, but will not be on the touchline for Arsenal's crucial clash against Premier League leaders Chelsea next Saturday.

The Arsenal manager was hit with a four-match touchline ban, the first of which will be served in today's FA Cup tie against Southampton, and a £25,000 fine after being charged with misconduct and improper conduct by the Football Association for his actions in the 2-1 victory over Burnley.

An Independent Regulatory Commission served the punishment yesterday after Wenger admitted the charge and requested a personal hearing.

Wenger denied calling referee Jon Moss a cheat for the award of Burnley's late penalty, but the Frenchman clearly shoved Taylor after being sent from the touchline and remaining in the tunnel area.

There were suggestions that Wenger could be forced to serve a stadium ban for his actions, but he will instead be forced to sit in the stands for the games against Southampton, Watford, Chelsea and Hull.

It is the game against Chelsea that will cause Wenger most concern with Arsenal's title hopes potentially resting on that game.

Wenger's ban will not be seen as severe enough by some, particularly Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who last season served a stadium ban while in charge of Chelsea for a half-time rant at Moss in the defeat by West Ham.

An FA statement on Wenger said "it was alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official.

"It was further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct."

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is also suspended for four games and will miss the trip to Chelsea after being sent off against Burnley.

Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck could make his first start in almost nine months against Southampton today, following his serious knee injury. The forward has made three substitute appearances this month, the first of which was in the FA Cup victory over Preston.

Wenger said: "In training he still lacks a fraction of zip. But overall he looks quite fit. What is most important is that he doesn't look scared. That's the biggest hurdle when you come back."

Wenger believes Welbeck could play an important role for Arsenal during the rest of the season, although the Frenchman stressed that he has plenty of good options.

A second-string Arsenal team were knocked out of the League Cup by Southampton, but Wenger has promised to put out a strong side out in the FA Cup today despite his side's busy schedule.

"At the moment, we have to fight everywhere. If we give up in the championship they will say, 'Are you mad?' After, we want to qualify against Bayern Munich in the Champions League as well."

Southampton v Arsenal

Live, BT Sport 2, 5.30

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