By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger says last weekend's heated exchange in the Arsenal dressing room was sparked by memories of February's implosion at Newcastle.

Reports emerged after the 3-1 win at Blackpool that Robin van Persie had clashed with Abou Diaby following the Frenchman's booking for kicking the ball away towards the end of the first half at Bloomfield Road.

Wenger admitted that words were said but he added that he has no problem with his players speaking up in such a way.

"First of all they are two good friends who get on very well," said the manager.

"Van Persie was concerned about Diaby getting a first yellow card and that he gets a second one because we all have in our memories what happened at Newcastle [when Arsenal let slip a four-goal lead].

"Diaby accepted it and said OK."

Accusations of a lack of leadership have been levelled at Wenger's squad at times this season, making last Sunday's flashpoint all the more surprising to some. But Wenger has never bought into that theory.

"They all have a voice, don't worry," he said. "Many times our leadership has been questioned but they go away to the national team and they're all captains.

"Rosicky [with the Czech Republic], Nasri has been captain of France, Fabregas is captain here, Van Persie is captain here, we have plenty. Vermaelen has been captain, Squillaci has leadership qualities, Lehmann in goal - you think he has no voice?!

"Of course I'm pleased [they showed passion]. I never was worried about the mentality of the team."

So does Wenger ever step in when his players are exchanging strong words in the heat of the battle?

"You have to sometimes understand the kind of disagreement that is there, and to intervene when it is time to do it," replied the manager.

"But I do not want to speak too much about what happens in the dressing room because I feel that's a private situation that belongs to the players and me."

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15 Apr 2011