Arsene Wenger admits Jack Wilshere deserved red card
No complaints from Wenger on Wilshere red card
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger conceded Jack Wilshere deserved to be sent off for his challenge on Nikola Zigic in the 2-1 win over Birmingham.
The 18-year-old's studs were showing as he clattered into the Serbian striker.
"It looked to me a red card," said Wenger. "He [Wilshere] mistimed the tackle. His first touch let him down."
The challenge angered Blues boss Alex McLeish, who said: "It was a bad tackle. Zigic was lucky not to get a very badly damaged leg."
The match was well into injury time when England midfielder Wilshere took out Zigic's standing leg with a wild lunge.
Wenger, though, was adamant there was no ill-intent on the player's part.
"He didn't want to harm the player but he caught him and it's difficult to complain after as he touched the ankle of the player," added Wenger, whose side recovered from Zigic's headed opener to secure victory through a Samir Nasri penalty and a Marouane Chamakh strike.
"Jack has acknowledged he deserved it, but he did not spend his whole game trying to kick people, he was one of the best players on the pitch."
McLeish questions penalty 'that changed game'
McLeish likened Wilshere's tackle the one by Birmingham's Martin Taylor which resulted in a badly broken leg for then Arsenal striker Eduardo in February 2008.
Wenger initially reacted by saying that Taylor "should never play football again" but later conceded that his comments were "excessive".
"We have had to put up with the Eduardo stuff for the last couple of years, and it is scandalous," said McLeish.
"It was a mistimed tackle from Martin Taylor and caused terrible damage to Eduardo - but that tackle could have caused Zigic a lot of damage.
"We know Jack Wilshere is not a dirty player, but it does show you players can mistime in this hurly burly game in football. Everybody has to recognise that."
Wilshere later issued a statement on Arsenal's website admitting he deserved to be dismissed for the tackle.
"I just want to say that I mistimed the challenge on Zigic and accept that I deserved to be sent off," he said.
"I have no complaints about getting the red card and I will learn from this. I'm missing three matches now which I'm really disappointed about, but I just want to say that I deserved the red card."
The incident came after Wenger used his programme notes to call for talks between managers and referees to clarify rules on tackling after a spate of unsavoury incidents this term - most notably tackles by Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong and Wolves defender Karl Henry.
Fulham's Bobby Zamora suffered a broken leg in a challenge by Henry, who was also fined two weeks' wages by his club for a tackle on Wigan's Jordi Gomez, while Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa was injured in a challenge by De Jong.
Wenger had stressed that he admired the English game's physicality but added that it was "important that the referees sit down together with the managers so that we can get clear what is allowed and what isn't".
What has got lost is the technique of the tackle
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Meanwhile, McLeish's ire was not only confined to Wilshere's challenge, the Blues boss also raging about the penalty decision from which Arsenal equalised at the Emirates, accusing Gunners striker Chamakh of diving.
The Moroccan appeared to be already going to ground when he was challenged by Blues defender Scott Dann.
"The players insist Scott never touched him," said McLeish. "If people are going to dive, it's difficult for the referee."
McLeish went on to criticise the stewards at the Emirates Stadium after he was involved in altercation with an Arsenal fan behind the dug-out in the first half.
"It was just a guy getting out of his seat. Where are the stewards? What are they doing? What is their job? Should people be allowed to get out of their seats?," he said.
"I am allowed to get out of my seat to shout instructions, but this guy was out of his seat, coming three or four steps down.
"Managers get hauled over the coals, but you get the punters coming out of their seats and shouting expletives at you.
"I just told the guy, 'Sit down, sit in your seat' - and then I asked the stewards, 'What are you doing about that guy?'.
"They are all sitting looking at the spat between the two of us and laughing, enjoying it. It is pathetic."
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.