Wenger feels relaxed over 'undeserved' one-match Uefa ban


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The Independent Football

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was last night given a one-match touchline ban by Uefa for his criticism of the Swiss referee Massimo Busacca after Arsenal's Champions League defeat to Barcelona this month.

His midfielder Samir Nasri will also be banned for the first European game Arsenal play next season for his part in the confrontations with Busacca that followed the final whistle at the Nou Camp on 8 March. Earlier yesterday, Wenger had said that he had not changed his view that he did not "deserve" to be punished for his actions

"I am not worried," he said. "If I am punished it will be one of the very few times that I feel I don't deserve it, because I don't feel I did anything wrong. I have no chance to speak my mind and I will have to accept it.

"But frankly I don't feel wrong and you don't feel at ease if you know you have done something wrong. I won't even listen to what they have to say because I know what I've done and what I have said."

Responding to Sir Alex Ferguson's five-match touchline ban from the Football Association which will – barring the rearrangement of Manchester United's game at Newcastle – mean he is in the stand when United visit the Emirates on 1 May, Wenger said he did not feel it would have much of an effect.

"In England the ban doesn't affect too much your capacity to work with the team because [unlike with Uefa bans] you can go into the dressing room and you can make the decisions from the stand. Some managers work from the stand so I don't feel it will affect Man United."

In the meantime, the injuries mount for Wenger who finally conceded yesterday that his Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen, missing for Arsenal since August, is out for the rest of the season. Cesc Fabregas will miss tomorrow's game against West Bromwich Albion. Johan Djourou is out for six weeks with a dislocated shoulder.

Arsenal have completed the signing of their 41-year-old former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann on a one-month rolling contract. Wenger said the bad feeling that existed between the German and Manuel Almunia would not be a problem. The Spanish goalkeeper, who once claimed that Lehmann "hated" him, will remain his No 1 and starts tomorrow.

Wenger said: "There has been much more said about that [relationship] than what happened. There is a lot of respect between the two goalkeepers. I think Jens Lehmann will get the best out of Almunia, because he will show him every day he is ready to fight for his place."

Lehmann, who will be on the bench for tomorrow's game, said that he was "excited" by the prospect of playing for Arsenal again. He said: "I have kept myself fit since the end of last season and I'm ready to contribute."

Explaining his decision to sign Lehmann, Wenger said that Arsenal's options were limited when it came to making an emergency signing. Wojciech Szczesny will miss the rest of the season while Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone are out for the next six weeks.

Wenger said: "When you are in March and you look for a goalkeeper who can help, you do not have much choice. We kept in touch [with Lehmann] through our goalkeeper coach and even I stayed in touch with him because we keep in touch with our former Arsenal players and he was still an Arsenal supporter."