Wenger hopes for cleaner contest

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger

First published in National Sport News © by

Arsene Wenger hopes to see less play-acting and more football when Arsenal tackle Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

On the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season in August at St James' Park, new signing Gervinho was shown a straight red card for raising his hands to then Magpies midfielder Joey Barton. Arsenal's Alex Song was also later retrospectively banned for a stamp on Barton.

On over-reaction from players following a clash, Wenger said: "It annoys me, but it can happen with one of my players as well. For example, (Liverpool striker Luis) Suarez got the penalty last week. It was no penalty. Nobody touched him. Where they go overboard is that nobody touched him."

He added: "I can understand if they push the ball too far, but when no one touches him...

"Then when they roll down the sock, take the shin pad out like he has been kicked like mad. It is a bit overboard. We don't need that."

Wenger believes Ivory Coast international Gervinho will be wiser from the whole experience, although such situations leave the Gunners boss less than impressed.

"Gervinho was shocked because he felt he didn't do a lot. I think he learned his lesson in the first game and it's better than after 20," Wenger said. "It's better to know what you are facing. If you want to play abroad, work abroad, then you have to adapt to the local culture."

The Gunners go into tonight's home clash with Newcastle aiming to keep close up on third-placed Tottenham, who were beaten at Everton, and put distance between themselves and Chelsea, who beat Stoke on Saturday. Arsenal have found some consistency in recent weeks, winning four from their last five Premier League games.

Having crashed out of the FA Cup at Sunderland and been unable to overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League, despite the morale-boosting 3-0 home win, Wenger knows his men must retain focus if they are to stay the course.

"Newcastle is a team that has offensive strength so a good defensive performance will be needed," he said. "For a long time, we didn't put one big result after the other, but we have scored seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham, three against Milan and they are good teams."

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