Wenger has to admit guilt on FA charge

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has admitted a charge of improper conduct following his altercation with Alan Pardew, the West Ham United manager, who has denied the same charge for his part in the touchline row between the pair at Upton Park on 5 November.

Both managers have requested personal hearings with the Football Association. The charges relate to the row which erupted after Marlon Harewood's late winner for West Ham and Pardew's goal celebrations. The two managers had to be separated in the technical area. Wenger refused to shake his rival's hand at the end of the match, and left without speaking to the press. The two managers were charged earlier this month when the FA decided there was a case for the pair to answer.

Meanwhile, Arsenal could be boosted by the return of William Gallas sooner than expected next month. Following a thigh injury suffered by the versatile defender, 29, ahead of Tuesday night's Champions' League defeat of Hamburg, Wenger feared the Frenchman would not be back in action until after the Premiership match against his former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 10 December.

However, the prognosis is now much more positive, with the possibility Gallas could return for the final group tie in Porto, which takes place four days ahead of the trip to west London. "Gallas will not play against Fulham [on 29 November] and Tottenham [2 December] could be a bit premature - but he has a chance to be available for Porto," Wenger said.

There were no fresh injury concerns following the Hamburg match. Wenger added: "At the moment we have Tomas Rosicky and Gallas both looking extremely good and close to coming back again. I do not think Rosicky is ready for Bolton [tomorrow] but he has a chance to be available for Fulham.

Lauren, who has had a long-term knee injury, and Abou Diaby, who broke an ankle at the end of last season, meanwhile, remain on course to return early in the new year. "Lauren is practising with the group now so that is very good news and Diaby we think he will be available in January," Wenger said.

Which will be good news for Cesc Fabregas who feels the club are entering a pivotal period of the season. "It's a big weekend for us, especially if we can get three points in a difficult stadium. Bolton is probably the most difficult stadium. This year we are physically much stronger, we are playing so well and I think we can do something. It is also important with Manchester United and Chelsea playing. This period of December and January is so important because there are so many games and you can be at the top in four or five games, so it is important to keep going because we are Arsenal."

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