Wenger defends tackling stance

Arsene Wenger is surprised by the criticism he has received from Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce and Stoke boss Tony Pulis, but vowed to continue speaking out against over-the-top tackles.

Allardyce accused Wenger of trying to influence referees with some of his comments in the media, while Pulis said the Frenchman was "out of order" for claiming that some of the challenges in Stoke's match against Aston Villa were tantamount to rugby.

However, the Frenchman, 61 next month, insists all coaches should be "on the same wavelength" when it comes to ridding the game of X-rated tackles.

"They shouldn't [take it personally] because I do not criticise them," Wenger said.

"Most of the time it was down to the fact I criticised violent football, and I am ready to do that at any price, to come out on that because I don't accept it.

"Everybody should be on the same wavelength on that, without criticising any manager.

"When I say 'this is a bad foul', I just say 'this is a bad foul' - I do not consider who it is, where it is or the manager. I just think it is a bad foul."

Wenger rejected suggestions he manipulates the media.

"I don't do it - I just think if it is right or wrong and I came very quickly to the conclusion that it is wrong," said the Arsenal manager.

"I don't think the criticism was right on that."

However, Wenger - who arrived to manage Arsenal in September 1996 and went on to transform the fortunes of the Gunners, winning the double twice - will not dwell on the issue.

"I have lived here for a long time and I know how it works, so I can live with it," he said.

"I live with the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day I look at what I do right or wrong and try to be objective.

"I told you I was wrong in our last away game at Sunderland and I accept the punishment."

Wenger - who served a one-match touchline ban for the midweek Carling Cup win at Tottenham following his conduct at the end of the Barclays Premier League game at Sunderland, has also called for retrospective video evidence to be used after a bad challenge by Bolton's Paul Robinson which left Abou Diaby injured went unpunished.

"The FA is always very swift with me, but I cannot influence it [the system]," Wenger continued.

"I said I was wrong [at Sunderland] and that doesn't make anyone else right or wrong.

"Robinson's was a bad tackle, but the rule is that if the foul has not been seen by the referee, they can do nothing about it.

"That is why I have pleaded for a long time for video - if you want the referee to get bad tackles out of the game, you have to accept that at some stage a review of the video (is needed) so the FA can punish the players that do it."

Wenger is, meanwhile, cautiously optimistic that Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas could be fit to play against Premier League leaders Chelsea next weekend.

The Spain midfielder suffered a hamstring injury as he netted a freak goal at the Stadium of Light, the ball kicked into him by Anton Ferdinand and it looped back into the goal.

Fabregas had just been finding his form having returned late after reaching the World Cup final, but after receiving specialist treatment in Paris, the 23-year-old could now be back in action for the trip to Stamford Bridge on October 3.

Wenger said this morning: "I hope that he will be ready for the Chelsea match and that he will be fine.

"But at the moment we don't know, it's too early."

With England defender Kieran Gibbs having joined Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner on the sidelines after suffering a foot injury in the midweek Carling Cup win at White Hart Lane, the news of Fabregas' potential quick return is a timely boost.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) will miss Saturday's clash against West Brom at the Emirates Stadium, while Tomas Rosicky (ankle) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee) face fitness tests, but midfielder Diaby (leg) could return.

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