Arsenal play with double standards, says furious Neville

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The Independent Football

The Everton midfielder rounded on his old adversaries in response to criticism of his performance in Monday night's 2-0 defeat at Highbury. The 28-year-old was targeted by the home faithful as a consequence of his Old Trafford connections but it was allegations after the game from within the Arsenal camp that he deliberately injured Pires that infuriated the England international.

Pires misses today's game with West Ham due to a thigh injury sustained in a first-half collision with Neville, who was not booked for the incident by the referee Alan Wiley but was penalised later for a more innocuous challenge on Robin van Persie.

The Everton midfielder believes his yellow card owed more to Arsenal's complaints than to his own actions, and coming less than a week after Van Persie's dismissal against FC Thun he claimed that the reaction from Highbury was yet another example of the double-standards that have been promoted under Wenger.

"It didn't surprise me one little bit [that Pires complained]," Neville said. "Some clubs have different agendas. I make a tackle, win the ball, the referee doesn't give a foul, I don't get booked, and all of a sudden I am a thug. Four days before that, one of their players nearly takes somebody's head off, and they are pleading innocence. How many times have we seen that over the years from Arsène Wenger and Arsenal Football Club?

"Arsenal are a great team and Robert Pires has come to this country and put in some unbelievable performances. But in English football you have to tackle, and sometimes when you play against these kind of players they think that you aren't allowed to tackle them.

"It may be a more English type of game, but Everton's strength and my strength is tackling. You can't stand off against Arsenal because they will kill you. We were aggressive on Monday night and they still managed to knock the ball around."

Neville, who was sent off for the first time in his career in a 1-0 defeat at Fulham last month, added: "My record in football, with just that one sending-off against Fulham, suggests I am not a dirty player. For him [Pires] to come out and say I deliberately tried to hurt him is insulting.

"Arsenal's players must have it in their contract that you aren't allowed to touch them. You only have to look at Arsenal's disciplinary record to suggest the problem lies within and not outside the football club. It's been going on for 10 years.

"Like any manager, Arsène Wenger defends his own players, but there are times when you have to be more honest."