Football: Wenger insists Vieira is victim

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The Independent Online
ARSENE WENGER has called the Charlton midfielder Neil Redfearn a "cheat" in the wake of the sending off of Patrick Vieira on Monday. The Arsenal manager believes Redfearn should be the first victim of a proposed crackdown by the Football Association.

Vieira was dismissed at The Valley when Redfearn went down clutching his face after the Arsenal midfielder apparently raised an elbow. Wenger is convinced after viewing video evidence that Vieira only struck his opponent in the chest and that Redfearn should be the punished for play- acting.

"My thought is that Patrick didn't deserve to be sent off and that Neil Redfearn cheated the referee," Wenger said. "Usually I think Redfearn is an honest type but on that occasion maybe Charlton wanted so much to win the game that he was ready for everything to get [Vieira] sent off. I don't think his behaviour was fair."

However, Redfearn insisted his conscience was clear last night. "The first time he [Vieira] swung he caught me on the cheek... it was quite painful," he said.

The FA spokesman, Steve Double, said Arsenal had yet to appeal against the decision.

Nicola Berti has left Tottenham to join the Spanish First Division club Alaves, while the 37-year-old former England international Peter Beardsley has moved to Hartlepool until the end of the season. Leeds are trying to sign the Benfica striker Nuno Gomes in a pounds 3.2m deal.