Wenger's tough talk on tackling backfires

Arsenal 2 Birmingham City 1: Manager's call for action results in Wilshere seeing red as Arsenal ride luck.

Arsène Wenger may be more careful about what he wishes for in future. After using his programme notes for yesterday's match to call for strong action by referees on dangerous tackles, he saw Jack Wilshere, the man of the match, sent off in injury time for exactly the type of challenge that he had identified.

With Arsenal nervously holding on to a 2-1 lead, Wilshere dived in recklessly from behind on Nikola Zigic, the Birmingham City forward, catching the Serb's ankle and being shown a straight red card by Martin Atkinson, the referee.

"We must fight to keep beautiful tackling, and that's tackling with the desire to get the ball back, rather than jumping in at any cost, " Wenger had written. But he had also added that "Managers... are all responsible for the behaviour of our teams," and, to his credit, he did not display his occasional myopia where his players' shortcomings are concerned afterwards, even if he defended Wilshere as far as he could.

"He mistimed his tackle and got a red card he deserved," Wenger said. "It was his first tackle in the game. He didn't spend his whole game kicking people, he was one of the best players on the pitch. It was more frustration. We do not complain about this tackle, but you cannot say that he had a dirty game."

This fixture, of course, is remembered by both sides for the leg and ankle injuries suffered by Eduardo da Silva in a challenge by Martin Taylor of Birmingham at St Andrew's in February 2008. "We've had to put up with the Eduardo stuff every time we play Arsenal," Alex McLeish, the Birmingham manager, said. "Martin Taylor is not a dirty player, but it was a mistimed tackle and it caused terrible damage to Eduardo. That tackle could have caused Zigic a lot of damage. We know that Wilshere is not a dirty player, but it shows that players can mistime tackles."

In fact, Emmanuel Eboué could also have been shown a red card, rather than yellow, for a two-footedchallenge on Liam Ridgewell of a type also described in Wenger's notes. As it is, only Wilshere will serve an automatic three-match ban after a match that Arsenal had to come from behind to win, Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh scoring either side of the interval after Zigic had put the visitors ahead.

Arsenal were far from their best but three points – which took them into second place in the Premier League table – were all that matteredfollowing a home defeat by West Bromwich Albion and a 2-0 reverse away to Chelsea. "It was imperative," Wenger said. "Our fluency was affected by the fact that we hadn't won for two games and it was never comfortable today."

Arsenal, though, began strongly, Abou Diaby leading the way in an attacking midfield role. Eboué's unintentional backheader from Sebastian Larsson's free-kick was the only effort to trouble Lukasz Fabianski until the 33rd minute, when the 6ft 8in Zigic outjumped Johan Djourou to head in Keith Fahey's cross.

Arsenal, though, equalised in controversial fashion four minutesbefore the break. Scott Dann ended a run by Wilshere with a well-timed tackle, but as he went to clear the loose ball, Chamakh nipped in and Dann's foot made contact with the Arsenal forward instead. Chamakh's theatrical fall angered the Birmingham defenders, but a penalty was the decision, and Nasri converted.

"It looked like a penalty, but when I saw the players' reaction I thought there was more to it," McLeish said. "People are going to dive and if that's the case it's difficult for referees."

Barely two minutes into the second half, Arsenal were ahead, and luck was on their side again. Chamakh ran on to Wilshere's clever flicked pass but turned his back as Stephen Carr challenged, only to find the ball at his feet after all, and reacted quickly to round Ben Foster and score.

Arsenal could have scored more, but fell into a familiar pattern of over-elaboration. A better final ball on a number of occasions might have settled the nerves which resulted in Wilshere's aberration.

Bookings: Arsenal: Eboué, Nasri. Birmingham: Carr, Bowyer.

Sending-off: Arsenal: Wilshere

Attendance: 60,070

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Wilshere

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?