Wenger admits FA charge and warns Xhaka 'not to tackle'
French manager requests personal hearing after misconduct charge but could face stadium ban
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has accepted an FA misconduct charge for verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor after he was sent off during the closing stages of the Gunners game against Burnley on Sunday.
However, the veteran manager has requested a personal hearing so that he can put his side of the case. The charge is a serious one, and Wenger could face a touchline or even a stadium ban.
"Wenger has accepted that he was in the wrong but claimed that he was confused about where to go after being sent to the stands following his protest at Burnley's late penalty," reports the Daily Telegraph, which says the Frenchman wants clarity on where managers should go in such circumstances.
Wenger was dismissed by referee Jon Moss but refused to move from the tunnel entrance as he tried to watch the final minutes of the game, which Arsenal won thanks to a 98th minute penalty. As fourth official Taylor tried to move him away he was seen to push him.
It's not the first time Wenger has appeared confused after being sent off. In 2009 he famously clambered onto a wall above the dugout at Old Trafford after being shown a red card.
"Arsenal play Southampton on Saturday in the FA Cup and so there is likely to be an incentive to get the matter heard before the weekend, although the process will be lengthened depending on how much mitigation is offered," says the Telegraph.
Wenger said he was "big enough" to know that he was in the wrong. "I don't know if I will be punished and how I will be punished," he added.
Another Gunner with disciplinary problems is midfielder Granit Xhaka, who was dismissed for the second time this season against Burnley and was interviewed by police a day later over an accusation of racial abuse at Heathrow airport.
Xhaka has "completely" denied the airport claim, but faces a four-match ban for the red card. This has prompted what the Daily Mail calls an "incredible warning" from Wenger who said he had told the Swiss to stop tackling.
"I think he's not naturally a great tackler," said Wenger. "In his decision making I think he is quite intelligent on the pitch. But it's more the way he tackles that is not really convincing."
Wenger could face stadium ban after 'calling ref a cheat'
Arsene Wenger has been charged by the Football Association with verbal abuse and pushing following Arsenal's highly-charged victory over Burnley on Sunday.
The Gunners' manager was sent off in injury time after he lost his temper following referee Jon Moss's decision to award Burnley a penalty. As he was escorted from the technical area into the tunnel, Wenger was shown on television pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor. Although the 67-year-old Frenchman later issued a full apology for losing his cool, The Sun claims that he called Moss "a f****** cheat".
The FA made no mention of such language in the statement they released on Monday afternoon, announcing simply that: "It is alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, Wenger used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official. It is further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct."
While Wenger's defence team will claim Taylor should not have been in the tunnel with the Arsenal manager - it is the responsibility of the stadium safety officer to escort a manager from the technical area through the tunnel - the "cheat" claim could land Wenger in serious trouble.
Judging from his contrition in front of the cameras on Sunday afternoon, Wenger knew he had overstepped a line and might face a swingeing punishment, although the fact he has not been charged by the FA with misconduct since 2010 should work in his favour.
Not known for grovelling apologies, he said: "I regret everything. I should have shut up, gone in and gone home. I apologise for that. Look, it was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football. Overall, nine times out of ten you are not sent to the stands for that."
But the FA are unlikely to share the view that "it was nothing bad" and Wenger is expected to be hit with a lengthy ban and a substantial fine. Not that he'll be the first manager to receive such a punishment. In 2011 Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson was given a then record five-match touchline ban (and £30,000 fine) for his outspoken criticisms of referees.
And in March 2014 Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was hauled over the coals for headbutting Hull City midfielder David Meyler. Fined £60,000 by the FA, Pardew was also forbidden from attending three Newcastle matches and banned from the touchline for a further four. It was the first time in Premier League history that a manager had received a stadium ban.
The Sun believes that while the best-case scenario for Wenger is a two-match touchline ban and £20,000 fine, the worse-case scenario is that "he could be hit with a more serious stadium ban".
Last gasp Arsenal go second as Wenger loses his cool
Arsenal 2 Burnley 1
A controversial penalty from Alexis Sanchez earned Arsenal a precious three points on a weekend when Liverpool, Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs all failed to win. But, boy, did the Gunners do it the hard way against a Burnley side who arrived at the Emirates with a well-drilled game plan to contain their hosts and then try and hit them on the counter.
For 59 minutes the plan worked but then a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Shkodran Mustafi to slip away from Stephen Ward and head home Mesut Ozil's corner with no Burnley player marking the post.
That should have been it for Arsenal but a stupid two-footed lunge from Granit Xhaka on Steven Defour saw the Swiss dismissed for the second time this season and the seventh time in two years. It meant that Arsene Wenger's side had to see out the final 25 minutes with a man down and though they made it to the end of normal time all right, disaster struck three minutes later when Francis Coquelin fouled Ashley Barnes in the box.
Andre Gray made no mistake from the spot and it seemed as if Arsenal had thrown away two invaluable points. It was all too much for Wenger, who was so incensed at the penalty decision that he lost his cool and was expelled from the touchline.
But still the drama wasn't down and in the final moments of an extraordinary eight minutes of stoppage time, Ben Mee caught Laurent Koscielny with a high boot. Penalty, said referee Jon Moss, even though TV replays indicated that the Frenchman was offside.
Sanchez shouldered the responsibility of the spot kick, the Chilean striker a rare cool head amid the tumult of the Emirates. His strike hit the back of the net and a match of exquisite drama ended in ecstasy for the Gunners and agony for the Clarets with the home side moving into second, eight points behind Chelsea.
"It's a tough day for us in the end," reflected Burnley boss Sean Dyche, whose side drop to 13th in the table. "To lose a game in that fashion, with an offside not given is tough, particularly when you come to tough places like this... we know how tough this division is but you need officials to make the right decisions and that is the shame today. They have to be brave have officials at places like this, I understand that, but you've got to think it has to be given [offside]."
To no one's great surprise Wenger expressed his belief that the Burnley penalty should never have been, the Frenchman telling reporters: "My view that is honestly I did not see that it was a penalty. I will have to watch it on the video. Francis told me that he ran into him."
As for his dismissal from the technical area, Wenger admitted he'd let himself down. "I should have kept control even in hectic times," he told Sky Sports. "I should have shut up and I apologise for not having done it but it was nothing malicious."
TV footage appeared to show Wenger manhandling Anthony Taylor, the fourth official, in the tunnel and, although the Arsenal manager denied any "physicality", it's likely that he will be charged this week by the Football Association. According to The Sun, a mitigating factor that Wenger is likely to use in his defence is that Taylor should not have confronted the Arsenal manager in the tunnel as he tried to watch the match as "it is the stadium safety officer's responsibility to move the manager, not the match official's".