Wenger fears 'rugby' match against Blackburn

Arsene Wenger is fully prepared for Arsenal to face another physical test at Blackburn on Saturday - but maintains it is the referee's responsibility to stop the match descending into "rugby".

The Gunners - whom Wenger today revealed had completed the signing of experienced French defender Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla - lost 2-1 at Ewood Park last May.

Afterwards Wenger berated Rovers for showing "no purpose to play the ball" as they blocked keeper Lukasz Fabianski at every opportunity, and also blamed referee Martin Atkinson for not providing his team with more protection.

While the Arsenal manager has no beef with Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce for looking to utilise a more direct approach, Wenger maintains there must be limits.

"I believe everybody looks at his squad and tries to find a way where the game is most efficient and we developed one way. It is not the only way, I respect every other way as long as the referees get the rules respected," said Wenger.

"I saw some pictures last Sunday; you cannot say any more it is football, it is rugby on the goalkeepers [more] than football.

"The referees cannot go on and accept that.

"When you see how [Stoke defender Ryan] Shawcross kicked [Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho] Gomes, how [Robert] Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football any more.

"If the referees allow that you cannot accept that because that has nothing to do with the game.

"Apart from that, when a team play long ball and head the ball and become physical I accept that completely and I respect that - but it has to be in respect of the rules, that is all."

Chris Foy is set to take charge of tomorrow's televised lunchtime encounter.

Wenger maintains the referees must uphold their first duty, to ensure player safety.

"I believe that in some situations the goalkeepers are not protected," the Arsenal manager said.

"You cannot have players whose main role is to stop the goalkeepers from catching the ball and not even go for the ball."

Squillaci, meanwhile, is set to train with his new team-mates tomorrow but will not feature at Ewood Park, where summer signing Laurent Koscielny returns from suspension.

Wenger feels the 30-year-old France international has all the qualities to fit right into the hustle and bustle of the Barclays Premier League.

"We needed a centre-back of quality and experience if possible, and at the right price - he was all of that," said Wenger, who lost the services of William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Sol Campbell and Philippe Senderos during the summer.

"He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game."

Arsenal have also been linked with Australia international Mark Schwarzer, with Fulham turning down two bids for the 37-year-old.

While Wenger refused to rule out bringing in any more players ahead of the deadline, the Arsenal manager insisted no deals were imminent.

"We are where we are - we have four great keepers and it is important we give confidence to them for the next game," Wenger said.

"I do not rule it out, but at the moment I say I am not in a position to sign anybody. At the moment, it is all dead."

Wenger, though, indicated players could still move overseas - with full-back Armand Traore looking set to leave for Benfica.

"I believe the transfer window should have been over already for a long time, because it should stop when the championship starts for domestic transfers, internationally it should go on until August 31 because not everybody starts at the same time," the Arsenal manager said.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there