By Chris Harris
Harsh words and tensions running high is part of football, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Arsenal manager was forced to defend his captain on Friday after a week in which Cesc Fabregas was accused of insulting referee Lee Mason as the official headed for his dressing room after the first half of Tuesday's 2-1 win over Everton.
As far as Wenger is concerned there is no case for Fabregas to answer: Mason did not mention the incident in his report, no FA charge was forthcoming and the player himself issued a statement underlining his respect for match officials.
But Wenger used his pre-match press conference to put the matter in perspective.
"You know what is the demand now? Everything is filmed, everything is recorded, when you go out from the dressing room until you go out on the pitch, but that’s not football any more," he said.
"When I go on Sunday for a walk, I see football playing in the park, if you record what is said there, I tell you you can make an article every day in every newspaper for everybody who is on the football pitch. It’s part of football as well to be a little bit free to talk. ‘Come on, what the hell have you done there? Give me the ball’... it’s part of football.
"You have the example of Gary Neville who has retired: fantastic player, fantastic career. You think he has never been heard talking in the tunnel? You have to be normal, and to have a little bit of tolerance as well with what is happening in the tunnel."
Wenger agreed when it was put to him that Fabregas had been the victim of a 'witch-hunt' but he puts much of that down to the pressure on the most high-profile footballers.
"Cesc is a very glamorous player so you’re a bit more under pressure on that front," he said. "But he knows how to deal with that. It is difficult in the modern game, you want somebody to give absolutely everything in every single game, to be highly-motivated, to be ready to die, and as well to be politically correct.
"But I do not want to develop a paranoia about that because we have to focus on the important targets we have in front of us."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source