'Dictatorship' Uefa should be apologising to us, says Wenger

Arsenal manager to contest charge over his complaints about Van Persie dismissal, saying 'a bit more humility' would do them good
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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has said that Uefa should show "a bit more humility", after he was charged with improper conduct following Arsenal's Champions League exit. As well as denying his charge, given for "inappropriate language" directed to referee Massimo Busacca on Tuesday night, he said that European football's governing body ought to apologise for Robin van Persie's sending-off, and likened the "arrogance" of charging him to something from a "dictatorship".

The Arsenal manager and his midfielder Samir Nasri were charged by Uefa on Wednesday. The accusations relate to comments made to the match officials after their 3-1 defeat at Barcelona. While Wenger rejected the case against him, he insisted yesterday that his grievances were legitimate and that Uefa should recognise that Arsenal were more sinned against than sinning.

"I deny completely any charge," Wenger said. "I don't understand where that comes from. I believe it is the kind of thing that is difficult to understand. It is a shame the referee took the decision to send Robin van Persie off because it was the wrong decision. The first game was a fantastic advert for football and the second game has been destroyed. The only thing that people remember is that the sending-off killed the game."

He was critical of Uefa for taking such a public and assertive stance against him, days after what he believes to be its mistake. "A bit more humility would do Uefa some good," Wenger suggested. "To apologise for what happened would be much better than charge people who have done nothing wrong. Uefa has to have a little bit of a low profile after what happened on Tuesday night, that would be much better and more sensible and more adapted to the situation.

"When you have a football game of that stature," he continued, "you cannot come out with decisions like that and show a lot of arrogance on top of that. We can all understand that we can make wrong decisions, but after that it becomes a dictatorship."

When asked whether any apology should be directed to him personally, he said that it is the club as a whole that suffered from Van Persie's dismissal. "Who has been punished is Arsenal Football Club," he said. "We are out of the Champions League, we have lost one of our big ambitions, we have been punished with a lot of damages and on top of that, we have to say sorry to Uefa."

When discussing the pattern of the game itself, Wenger denied accusations that he had betrayed his characteristic commitment to attacking football. He insisted instead that Arsenal's massed defence at the Nou Camp was forced upon them by the intensity of Barcelona's pressing. "We did that because we were forced to it," he said of Arsenal's stance. "It was never our intention to stay in our half. You look at the speed with which we lost the ball. They pressed so quickly. They turned so quickly from offensive to defence that we never managed to get out. We never decided to play in our final third at all. We did not get out. They came so quickly on us when we won the ball back that we couldn't get out."

Moreover, Wenger said that despite how the game turned out, his team selection was adventurous. "If I had played two full-backs on each flank you could say 'OK, they just wanted to defend,'" he pointed out. "But we played Rosicky, Nasri, Fabregas, Wilshere, Van Persie and Diaby – not one defensive player. How can people think I said to the players 'just stay in our half and wait'. I was absolutely desperate to get in their half and play but we didn't manage to get out."

Arsenal's goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, went off injured in the first half of the match after being hit by a Dani Alves free-kick on the hand. Wenger confirmed yesterday that the Polish goalkeeper has dislocated a finger and also has a "tendon problem". He will see a specialist, and will be "out for a while". Wenger confirmed that Arsenal "will look for an emergency goalkeeper", and that he had someone in mind, but confirmed that Manuel Almunia would play against Manchester United in the FA Cup tomorrow. Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Theo Walcott are injured but Van Persie is fit.