Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Thursday August 26 2010
Arsene Wenger has again felt the need to sit on a higher plateau to us mere mortals by insisting referees and players must respect the rules and stop games from descending into rugby instead of football.
Somehow keeping a straight face and with no sarcasm, the Frenchman failed to explain quite how any game of football can be like a game of rugby - what with the ball having to travel backwards and physical play actually being allowed in the oval sport variety.
But his comments seem more designed to protect his players from the battle that awaits them at Ewood Park... fresh off the back of last season's 2-1 reverse where Wenger was again up in arms at being beaten by tactics he disliked.
Wenger spoke to Sky Sports and said - 'I believe everybody looks at his squad and tries to find a way where the game is most efficient and we developed one way. It is not the only way, I respect every other way as long as the referees get the rules respected,'
'I saw some pictures last Sunday; you cannot say any more it is football, it is rugby on the goalkeepers [more] than football.
'The referees cannot go on and accept that.
'When you see how [Stoke defender Ryan] Shawcross kicked [Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho] Gomes, how [Robert] Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football any more.
'If the referees allow that you cannot accept that because that has nothing to do with the game.
'Apart from that, when a team play long ball and head the ball and become physical I accept that completely and I respect that - but it has to be in respect of the rules, that is all.'
Chris Foy is the man in black (or whatever they wear nowadays) for Saturdays lunchtime clash and the pressure will be on after Wenger's words.
Wenger stressed the importance of protecting goalkeepers, mirroring his comments last May after the Rovers-Arsenal match in which he felt his 'goalkeeper' Lukas Fabianski received some rough treatment.
'I believe that in some situations the goalkeepers are not protected,' the Arsenal manager continued.
'You cannot have players whose main role is to stop the goalkeepers from catching the ball and not even go for the ball.'
Date:Thursday August 26 2010
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