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Wenger calls for calm before Stoke visit to Arsenal

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Wenger's Shawcross plea to fans'

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has appealed for calm in Saturday's game with Stoke, the teams' first meeting since Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey's leg.

"What happened in the past, happened in the past," said Wenger.

"I don't think there's any need to add fuel on it, and just focus on playing as we do and respect our opponents."

But Wenger added that Ramsey was the only person who could forgive Shawcross for the incident in Arsenal's 3-1 win at the Britannia Stadium in February.

The players will not face each other at the Emirates as Wales international Ramsey, 19, is on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest where he is seeking to regain full fitness.

And Wenger emphasised the need for a good game on Saturday. "What is important is we want to see a football game where both teams play good football.

"It is Arsenal against Stoke. Every game is different and it is a new start."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has, meanwhile, given strong support to Shawcross, who left the field in tears when he was sent off for the challenge on Ramsey.

'Honest' Shawcross will be unfazed - Pulis

Saturday's game will be the first time Shawcross has faced Arsenal since that match, but Pulis said he was confident the defender would be able to handle himself in what is likely to be a hostile atmosphere.

"He's got nothing to worry about, he just needs to get out there and play," Pulis told BBC Radio Stoke.

"We're very proud of Ryan, he's a terrific player and I don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks."

"I can't control what he [Wenger] says," added Pulis. "The only thing that concerns me is that Ryan feels at home here, and that certainly is the case.

"I don't know the fella [Wenger], he is what he is. I've shook hands with him, said hello and goodbye, and that's about it.

"I know nothing about him, but if he criticises the football club for whatever reason, you have to stand up and fight for it.

Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross leaves the field in tears after being sent off against Arsenal

"People have perceptions, and if they actually look at the facts they'll see the perceptions are not right.

"This season, Arsenal have got more red cards than us, they've got more yellow cards than us, and they've given away more free-kicks.

"But if you speak to them out there, it'll be dirty old Stoke going to the Emirates again and that's not the case. It's not backed up by the facts."

Shawcross, who found out just after February's game that he had received his first call up to the full England squad, has recently been linked with a move away from the Potters but said last week on Twitter that "I am currently very happy at Stoke and have no intention of leaving".

The Ramsey incident marked a low point in relations between the two managers, Wenger having already been an outspoken critic of Stoke's approach.

Following Arsenal's first Premier League visit to the Britannia Stadium, when they lost 2-1 in November 2008, Wenger accused Stoke of overly aggressive tactics.

606: DEBATE
James

Pulis leapt to the defence of his side and later criticised Wenger for "moaning" about fixture congestion.

Following the injury to Ramsey, Wenger described Shawcross's challenge as "not acceptable".

He renewed his criticism of Stoke at the start of this season, saying Shawcross and fellow defender Robert Huth were like "rugby players".

Stoke travel to the Emirates looking to end a three-match winless run, while Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from Monday's 1-0 defeat by Manchester United.



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see also
Forest seal loan deal for Ramsey
25 Nov 10 |  Nottm Forest
Ramsey has surgery on broken leg
28 Feb 10 |  Arsenal
Pulis criticises 'moaning' Wenger
17 Dec 09 |  Premier League
Stoke boss fears referee backlash
06 Nov 08 |  Stoke
Shawcross & Pulis contact Ramsey
04 Mar 10 |  Stoke
Stoke team-mates defend Shawcross
28 Feb 10 |  Stoke
Wenger furious at Stoke tackling
05 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Wenger praise for battling Stoke
09 Jan 05 |  Arsenal


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Irish Independent Wenger not giving up on Arsenal's title dream - 3 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Ramsey casts shadow over Arsenal-Stoke clash - 8 hrs ago
Sunday People Sports News: Pulis: Wenger under pressure - 9 hrs ago
Malay Mail Give respect to Shawcross, Wenger tells fans - 10 hrs ago
Daily Express Steven Gerrard hailed by Tony Pulis for the Shawcross redemption - 14 hrs ago


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