Football: Lens label Dixon a 'cheat' for red card

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL WERE accused of cheating after their humiliating home defeat against Lens last night. Trouble flared in the final minute when the Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour was sent off for an apparent kick at his opponent, Cyril Rool. But the Lens coach, Daniel Leclercq, was even more upset about the incident which saw the French club's Tony Vairelles dismissed in the dying seconds - and accused the Gunners' full-back Lee Dixon of cheating for his part in the incident.

"Dixon came up behind Tony Vairelles and pushed him to the ground," Leclercq said. "Thanks to his experience, he made Tony Vairelles be sent off. It was not fair play from the player."

The Lens coach clearly believed that Dixon had been play-acting during the tussle between the two players. He was further angered by Arsenal's failure to throw the ball back to his side in the first half after a Lens player had kicked it out so that a team-mate could receive treatment.

"Cheating is what that is called in France. These two flagrant incidents were something I would never have imagined," Leclercq said. "I can understand that Arsenal really needed to win but maybe they went too far. However, I don't want to question English football as I am a supporter of it."

Wenger did not complain about Parlour's dismissal. "There was no question about that," the Frenchman said, "and the matter will be dealt with internally."

He added: "We had some weakness in our recent games and nothing went for us. Some important players are also not at their best at the moment. I said the championship was our main priority and I was unfortunately proved right."

Although Wenger conceded that the weakness of the squad "could be one of the answers" to why they were eliminated, he said: "It is very difficult to predict that you will have so many players out in important games."