The world's against Arsenal: Wenger reinforces siege mentality with astonishing outburst


Last updated at 22:51 29 February 2008

Arsene Wenger outlined a conspiracy

theory that he insists is undermining

Arsenal's title challenge.

Lashing out at various targets, the

Frenchman pointed his accusations

at fellow managers sending their

teams out to kick his League leaders,

as well as referees picking on his

players when dishing out bookings.

Clearly unforgiving of Birmingham

defender Martin Taylor for the

tackle which broke Eduardo's leg a

week ago, Wenger reinforced the

siege mentality that has engulfed

his squad ahead of today's home

game against Aston Villa.

Sadly for Wenger, his figures

didn't quite add up, proving only

that Arsenal have developed the

paranoia that has a habit of cloaking

England's dominant clubs when

they stride to the top of the table.

Wenger said: 'The real basic problem

in this League is that for the

past three years we are the team which has committed fewer fouls

than any other team, the team who

is fouled more than any other team

and the team who is punished more

than any other team, yet I do not

read that anywhere.

'I have no suspicions. Facts are

facts. It is true. Every four fouls

Arsenal gets a yellow card and every

nine fouls some other teams get

yellow cards. The numbers are

available for everybody in the Opta

statistics. Look at them.'

Wenger's statistical tour de force

was not, however, wholly validated

by Opta, the organisation which

collates statistics for Barclays

Premier League games. While it is

true that Arsenal have committed

fewest fouls over a three-year

period, Manchester United are, in

fact, the team with most fouls committed

on them (1,467) with Everton

second (1,465) and Arsenal third

(1,449). Close, but not accurate.

On his assertion that Arsenal

receive a yellow card for every four

fouls committed, Wenger is horribly

wrong. Over the past three seasons, the figure is actually 7.95 fouls per

yellow card, level with Blackburn in

joint third place, but behind both

Chelsea (7.51) and Bolton (7.81) in

terms of punishment.

Asked if he felt his initial outburst

that Taylor should never be allowed

to play football again — later

retracted — had contributed in a

small part to the death threats

received by the defender this week,

Wenger's spikiness returned.

'Yes, I'm responsible for everything

in this country,' he said. 'How

much unemployment have you? I'm

responsible for it as well. I said what

I said in the heat of the moment

and I took responsibility to retract

what I said. But frankly I am not

taking responsibility for idiotic

people who send death threats.

'Basically, only Martin Taylor

knows about his intentions and he

has to deal with that. I had a chat

with him after the game. Frankly

the tackle looks bad. It looks really

bad. He told me he didn't do it

intentionally, so I gave him the

benefit of the doubt and I retracted

what I said because I am not 100

per cent sure.

'Don't get me wrong. There are a

lot of things I love here; the passion,

the commitment. I do not want

England to lose that because that

is above every other country in the

world. It is in the hands of the

referee to protect, to make the

distinction between how far you can

go and what you cannot do.

'I should invite you sometimes to

come into the dressing room and

look at the legs of Alexander Hleb

after a game. You would be amazed.

But what is happening is not a

surprise to us. Frankly I do not want

to know if other managers send

their teams out to bully Arsenal. It's

not my responsibility to think about

other teams. I ask my teams to play

football and what the other managers

do is their responsibility. But

I've been long enough in the game

to know what happens in the dressing

rooms before games.'

Some believe, though, that Arsenal

have recently been fortunate at

the hands of FA disciplinary chiefs.

The clash between team-mates

Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas

Bendtner during the 5-1 Carling Cup

defeat at Tottenham saw both

escape because video evidence was

inconclusive. This was accepted,

even though Bendtner's father

accused the Togo forward of a 'mad'

attack which left his son with a cut


In the FA Cup defeat at Old

Trafford last month, William Gallas

escaped action despite TV pictures

of his off-the-ball kick at Nani.

At St Andrew's, Gallas had to be

restrained when he kicked out at

advertising hoardings in front of

Birmingham fans after the late

penalty award which forced the draw.

Again, there was no FA sanction.

Wenger defended club captain

Gallas, saying: 'Ideally he should

not have responded like that. But

he is a guy who is highly committed

and sometimes when he goes overboard

he can respond like that. He's

an explosive one. When he is fed up,

he is fed up.

'You want people in this job who

care. What I hate the most are people

who are nicey, nicey and behave

well, but at the end of the day they

cheat a bit with their commitment.

'I prefer a guy who goes overboard

without hurting anybody and who

cares about winning. That is

William. He cares about winning.'

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