Wenger In Bother Again
Arsenal’s at times outspoken, unpopular and over-emotional manager Arsene Wenger was all three at once last weekend, as he reacted angrily to the Gunners’ late, late concession of two EPL points at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
Wenger received a one-match touchline ban and an £8,000 fine after appearing to abuse and manhandle fourth official Martin Atkinson at the final whistle.
Wenger served the ban at Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over North London rivals Tottenham in the Carling Cup at White Hart Lane.
The victory completed a convincing cup double for the Gunners who, the previous week, steamrollered Portuguese outfit SC Braga 6-0 at the Emirates in their opening UEFA Champions League group fixture.
However, there was a more unwanted double, as in-form talisman Cesc Fabregas and talented young full-back Kieron Gibbs came way injured from Arsenal’s busy week.
An FA statement said Wenger “admitted a charge of using insulting and/or abusive language and behaviour” towards Atkinson, although pictures suggested the Frenchman also tried to grab Atkinson’s arm.
Had Arsenal held on to the 1-0 lead given to them by Cesc Fabregas’s freak early goal, they would have gone top of the EPL.
But Tomas Rosicky missed a second-half penalty, which would have been taken by Fabregas if he had still been on the pitch.
And England striker Darren Bent equalised in the fifth minute of stoppage time after Atkinson had signalled four extra minutes. Wenger claimed that “in the four minutes nothing happened to justify the extension of the time.”
Fabregas will be out of action “for two to three weeks”, according to a club statement, after limping off with a hamstring injury. This makes him doubtful for Arsenal’s key EPL clash at West London rivals Chelsea on October 3rd.
Fabregas had starred in Arsenal’s Champions League dismantling of Braga, the night’s only disappointment being his failure to complete his first-ever competitive hat-trick, after scoring twice in the first 53 minutes.
Wenger watched from the stands as Arsenal’s virtual second-string overcame a similarly understrength Tottenham selection after extra-time.
The young Gunners had a little more experience in their ranks than Spurs, but were much the better side.
And they shouldn’t have needed extra-time after Henri Lansbury’s 15th-minute opener was cancelled out by an offside goal from Spurs’ Robbie Keane.
Justice was served after Samr Nasri converted two penalties in the first six minutes of overtime, Andrei Arshavin completing the scoring on 105 minutes.
Full-back Kieron Gibbs limped off the White Hart Lane pitch and early fears were that the 20-year-old had suffered a similar injury to the broken metatarsal which kept him out of football for much of last season.
However, a scan revealed only severe bruising and the club say his absence will be “hopefully for the short-term.”
There was more good news on the fitness front as Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen was struck off the Gunners’ lengthy injury-list, having recovered from an Achilles problem.
Vermaelen will be available for West Bromwich Albion’s EPL visit to the Emirates this Saturday.
Tags: Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Gunners, Carling Cup, Cesc Fabregas, EPL, Samr Nasri, Thomas Vermaelen