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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Wenger says sorry
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has apologised for his players' loss of self-control after the stormy goalless draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

But Wenger insisted the condemnation of the club in certain sections of the media in the aftermath of the game had been an "over-reaction".

And he has vowed to fight the charges levelled by the Football Association against Arsenal as a club and six members of his first-team squad.

Manchester United have also demanded to see the videos to see if Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo have a case to answer.

Wenger said: "I have watched the video again and we over-reacted on the penalty and after the final whistle, and I apologise for that," said Wenger. "I'm sorry if we offended anyone and it will not happen again.

"We have to keep control of our reactions when we play football and not to show our frustration when things don't go our way.

"I don't say that what we did was right but people have reacted as though these players have killed somebody.

I've been in English football for seven years and I've witnessed situations that were 10 times worse that were not punished
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

"Was there an elbow in anyone's face on Sunday? Was anybody hurt? Was there an exchange of blows?

"We have to acknowledge we were out of order in our behaviour but between that and the reaction we got, I frankly feel it's an over-reaction."

Arsenal face a six-figure fine if found guilty of failing to control their players at Old Trafford.

Martin Keown, Lauren, Ray Parlour, Ashley Cole, Jens Lehmann and Patrick Vieira are also charged with a total of 11 separate counts which could net them 21 games worth of suspensions.

Wenger insisted that Arsenal would be prepared to risk having all six players banned at the same time as they await personal hearings lasting two or three days.

"We are a team and, while we acknowledge that we've done wrong, that still means we must stick together and fight for our players," he said.

"We'll do it more than ever now. We will defend our case as strongly as we can. What we can defend is the severity of the charges and who really hit who.

"Martin Keown over-reacted and knows that he shouldn't have done it but suddenly the whole country is really shocked, like there is never any violence in football or in our society."

Wenger will also refuse to apologise for his own comments immediately after the game, when he claimed United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy had been 'cheating' during his clash with Vieira.

"I will take responsibility for our behaviour, which was not appropriate. But I said what I said and I will defend that," said Wenger.

"I have heard other managers call our players cheats and they've never had to explain themselves to the FA."

Wenger added: "There is a history between Van Nistelrooy and Lauren from last year in the FA Cup. I will give you a tape of what he did on Lauren, what he did on Keown and what he did on Fredrik Ljungberg."

Wenger insisted the FA had created a rod for its own back by applying such rigorous disciplinary standards.

"They will put themselves in trouble with that. They will either only charge Arsenal or they will have to charge teams every week," he said.

"I don't know if the FA over-reacted but they were very quick to charge us.

"If you could imagine that the game had happened somewhere without Sky TV being there, nothing would have happened."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We over-reacted after the game and we apologise for that"

PFA chief Gordon Taylor
"It's all about collective responsibility"

Punishing players the proper way
24 Sep 03  |  Football

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