Allardyce accuses Wenger of trying to influence referees

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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce has accused Arsene Wenger of trying to influence referees to try and make Arsenal players untouchable.

The Gunners manager has again criticised heavy challenges on his players following an injury to Abou Diaby and hinted that some opponents have no intention of winning the ball.

Blackburn boss Allardyce, who has often clashed with Wenger in the past over his teams' style of play, said the Frenchman had almost succeeded in influencing match officials.

Allardyce said: "Arsene has most of the media in his pocket now and is almost - almost - affecting the officials so that you can't tackle an Arsenal player.

"That's something he's very clever at working on and it's almost working in his favour, you can see that.

"Read his interview before the Stoke City v Aston Villa match, what he said and how he said it - he's a very, very clever man in terms of influencing referees, officials and everybody in football.

"He can't be brought up for it because it's about another match - rather just before he plays us.

"There is a perception that we kick everybody and Arsenal's motivation is that you can't tackle us as you aren't supposed to.

"In terms of saying people are trying to injure players he's trying to influence, through the media, the referees and that's something they shouldn't get sucked in to."

Allardyce insisted that although football remained a contact sport, the days of players trying to injure opponents was long gone.

He added: "He's deflecting attention from the situation which says the game of football is a contact sport. You have to try to win the ball at all costs and if someone doesn't get it quite right people get injured.

"It was much more apparent in my day when people use to go out to try to hurt an opponent every week, but today it very rarely happens.

"I completely deny that my team deliberately injures players, certainly not. In the Premier League the commitment and speed unfortunately brings players together at such pace that it's almost impossible to avoid injuries."

Allardyce's teams have been criticised by Wenger in the past for their physical approach but he said the "fear factor" he hopes to instil is much more about dominating with the ball.

The Blackburn manager added: "We don't do what everybody says we do and kick everybody, we don't do it.

"You are associating fear with bullying, but it's not that, it's about the dominance of the team.

"The fear factor at Old Trafford is about Man United getting the ball and making life very, very difficult for you - that's the fear factor I'm talking about.

"When you play the big boys you have to make sure what you do out of possession is giving you a chance to expose them when get possession, as we did with Arsenal."

Blackburn face ex-manager Mark Hughes' Fulham side on Saturday with injury doubts remaining over Ryan Nelsen and Michel Salgado, who both limped off during the 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

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