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Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wenger furious at Stoke tackling


My team are not cowards - Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has accused Stoke of overly aggressive tactics after injuries to two of his players in the Gunners' 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

Wenger condemned Rory Delap and Ryan Shawcross after Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor were both hurt.

"Do you think Delap tried to play the ball when he tackled Walcott? Or that Shawcross tried to play the ball when he tackled Adebayor?" said Wenger.

The Football Association says it is considering the Frenchman's comments.

If the governing body decides to pursue the matter, Wenger will be asked to explain what he meant and if a subsequent charge is issued it would likely be in the form of a financial penalty.

Stoke City chairman Peter Coates strongly rejected Wenger's claims.

"I'm very disappointed because I don't think that's the case at all," Coates told BBC Radio Stoke.

"We don't play like that. We are not that sort of team.

"I'm sure that none of our players would deliberately go out to injure anyone, so it is most disappointing to hear someone like Arsene Wenger make that comment but that is up to him.

"That wasn't the game I saw, it wasn't the game the fans at the ground saw and it wasn't the game that the referee saw," added Coates.

We will have to stick our foot in and tackle and then play our football when we have the ball

Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner

Walcott (shoulder) and Adebayor (ankle) will both miss Wednesday evening's Champions League match against Fenerbache at the Emirates Stadium as a result of their injuries.

Adebayor is set to be sidelined for three weeks, which would also rule him out of games against Manchester United, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Dynamo Kiev.

With critics accusing Arsenal of lacking enough bravery in the tackle following the defeat at the Britannia Stadium, Wenger launched a staunch defence of his team.

"I am not ready to listen to things that are untrue and make people who are cowards, for me, look brave," said the Gunners boss.

"I read that my team were not brave," he said.

"All I can say is they are brave and, for me, you need to have more courage to play football when you know that someone is tackling you from behind without any intention to play the ball.

"The only intention is to hurt you and I can show some tackles where I can prove what I say. The one who is tackling is not the brave one.

"For me the brave one is the player who is trying to play football."


Wenger also alleged that this is not the first time teams have used physical tactics to upset Arsenal's free-flowing football while striker Nicklas Bendtner insists the Gunners are no pushovers.

"We know that other teams have that gameplan but so do we. If other teams are physical we can deal with that," he said.

"We have just got to think of our own game and the way we play. If we do that well enough that should be enough to win the games.

"If teams want to kick us we will deal with that and still come out on top. We will have to stick our foot in and tackle and then play our football when we have the ball."

Delap denied that he set out to hurt Walcott.

"It was more of a tired tackle," Delap told BBC Sport on Saturday.

"I thought I was going to get the ball, but he is that sort of player.

"He was too quick for me and I think he has taken a bad fall on his shoulder, so I wish him all the best and I will try to get to see him."

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see also
Wenger admits to Arsenal weakness
02 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Stoke 2-1 Arsenal
01 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
01 Nov 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
01 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Hero or zero?
02 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
29 Oct 08 |  Premier League

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