Arsene Wenger could face action for communicating with Arsenal bench

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger cut a frustrated figure up in the Emirates Stadium stands after watching Arsenal labour to a 1-0 win in the first-leg of their Champions League play-off against Udinese last night.

The Gunners boss was forced to serve a one-match touchline ban for abusing Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in the last-16 defeat to Barcelona last season - but could yet find himself in further disciplinary trouble with UEFA after communicating with the Arsenal bench.

Wenger had called for a response from his young squad following the sale of their captain Cesc Fabregas back to Barcelona and it seemed he would get just that when Theo Walcott swept the home side in front after only four minutes.

However, from then on, Arsenal never really got into any sort of rhythm as Udinese grew into the game, and a fine late save from Samir Handanovic meant Wenger's men will take the slenderest of margins into next week's trip to Italy.

Before last night's tie, Arsenal had checked with UEFA that Wenger could send messages to the coaching staff via a third party.

As a result, first-team coach Boro Primorac passed instructions from Wenger to assistant manager Pat Rice on the touchline throughout the first period.

However, UEFA warned Wenger at the break he was contravening the rules and as a result he withdrew from communication.

After the match, the Gunners boss felt that as he had not been involved in proceedings in the usual way he would not attend the post-match press conference, which in itself could lead to a fine.

Instead it was left to Walcott to sum up the team's performance in their first outing since Fabregas left.

"It's time to move on. He was a great player for the club but he's gone," said Walcott, who has been dogged by his controversial comments about England manager Fabio Capello, who was at last night's game.

"We still have some very talented players in the squad here and we believe we can achieve something this year.

"We're in a great position but it's far from over. We didn't finish it off. We are capable of winning over there."

While Arsenal will happy with the clean sheet, the victory came at a cost as Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou picked up injuries.

Gibbs picked up a minor hamstring injury and was forced off at half-time, but replacement Djourou was forced off after just 10 minutes with a similar complaint.

Both players are now doubts for Saturday's Barclays Premier League match against Liverpool.

Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin, meanwhile, believes his team now face a tough battle to qualify for the group stages.

"We were not able to score despite the chances we were offered," he said.

"The tie is open, we can win it.

"Arsenal have the advantage and if they score in our stadium it will be hard for us to go through."