Cut out the theatrics, says Wenger
Manager attacks players for going 'overboard' ahead of Arsenal's match with Newcastle tonight
Arsène Wenger has called for simulation to be toned down in advance of Arsenal's home match against Newcastle United tonight – especially the play-acting that seems to be aiming at Oscars rather than leaving a referee in no doubt that a player has been fouled.
It was in the meeting of the two teams at St James' Park in Arsenal's first match of the season that Gervinho was shown a red card on his debut after brushing away Joey Barton, who reacted as if he had been hit by a speeding truck rather than an Ivorian winger.
"At Newcastle, Gervinho had a bad response to provocation from our friend Barton," Wenger said. "He was shocked because he felt he didn't do a lot. I think he learnt his lesson in the first game and it's better than after 20. It's better to know what you are facing. If you want to play abroad, work abroad, then you have to adapt to the local culture."
Wenger accepts that Arsenal players have not been blameless in the past, but he feels that overreactions are reaching a new level. He highlighted the penalty won by Luis Suarez during Arsenal's 2-1 win at Liverpool nine days ago. "It annoys me but it can happen with one of my players as well," he said. "But for example, Suarez got the penalty last week. It was no penalty. Where they go overboard is that nobody touched him. But then when they roll down the sock, take the shin pad out like he has been kicked like mad – it's a bit overboard. Everyone who has played football can understand they try to win the penalty, but when he goes afterwards to get a bit more, then we don't need that."
Arsenal are aiming for a fifth successive league victory, and Wenger is pleased with the spirit that has allowed his team to come from behind to beat both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, and beat Milan 3-0 in the Champions League tie six days ago to come within a goal of cancelling out a 4-0 first-leg deficit.
The spirit in the squad was as good as it had been for some time, he revealed. "For consistency of top results, yes, because for a long time, we didn't put one big result after the other, and [for the] quality of our games as well," he said. "We scored seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham, three against Milan and they are good teams, so overall we have a flow in our game because maybe the confidence is higher."
It will have to be against a Newcastle team whom Wenger includes in the list of those in contention for a top-four finish. "First of all they play with a fantastic attitude, but basically what they have done is that they bought very well," he said. "That is one of the secrets in our game. I thought that Yohan Cabaye was a very good buy, with Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Papiss Cissé. All their buys were successful."
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