Nasri calls for more player protection

Arsenal winger Samir Nasri maintains players in the Barclays Premier League are not "evil", but feels referees should do more to protect players.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has long championed the need to stamp out X-rated challenges from the game - with three of his players, Abou Diaby, Eduardo and last season young Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey being left with broken legs and months of rehabilitation.

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has been dropped from the Holland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Moldova and Sweden after his tackle left Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa with a double fracture and most likely out for the season.

Ben Arfa's fellow France international Nasri believes malice is often difficult to prove, but maintains referees could do more to clamp down on over-zealous challenges.

"What strikes me is the refereeing. The referee saw Hatem exit on a stretcher with an oxygen mask, yet he didn't punish de Jong. It's that which has to change in England," Nasri said on Eurosport.

"Nigel de Jong has pedigree, a bit like [Mark] van Bommel. Referees should know that these players make foul tackles.

"The tackle wasn't exactly like the one that Eduardo suffered against Birmingham, but it was a hard tackle, from the side."

Nasri continued: "With the exception of one time, when [Joey] Barton tried to hack me down, players are not 'evil'.

"There are sometimes accidents and there always have been, considering the commitment levels - but are we protected enough in England? I don't think so."

The Gunners, meanwhile, head into the international break having suffered successive Barclays Premier League defeats following the 2-0 reverse at leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal had their chances against the Blues but failed to make them count, and now are some seven points off the pace in fourth.

Full-back Bacary Sagna insists Wenger's men - who had been in free-scoring form earlier in the campaign - must be more ruthless when the action resumes again with the visit of Birmingham on October 16.

"I feel sad and I am disappointed as well because we played quite well," the France international told www.arsenal.com.

"We lost the game, but we have to try and do better next time.

"We have to learn from this game and we have to score goals because we had the opportunities to do it. We are disappointed."

Nearly all of the Arsenal first-team squad are away with their countries or continuing rehabilitation from injury, as captain Cesc Fabregas, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, defenders Kieran Gibbs and Thomas Vermaelen and forwards Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner all target a return to action.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere is set to link up with the senior England squad for next week's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley, but only after involvement with the Under-21s for their crucial European Championship play-off first leg with Romania at Norwich on Friday night.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have confirmed 18-year-old left-back Cedric Evina has joined npower League One side Oldham on a month's loan and that their former winger Robert Pires, who will be 37 at the end of October, has been using the club's Hertfordshire training complex after being released by Villarreal during the summer.

The French World Cup winner made 284 appearances for the Gunners from 2000 to 2006, and was part of the 'Invincibles' squad for the unbeaten Premier League campaign in 2003/04.

However, it remains to be seen whether Wenger would be interested in trying to add Pires' experience to his current group, as the Gunners boss did with veteran defender Sol Campbell when he was a free agent.

Wenger told Le Parisien: "He is sparkling. Robert is happy on the ball and physically he is fine.

"He can be of service in Ligue 1 (the French top division)."

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