By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger says he has never sent out a team with the express intention of kicking their opponents.

The issue of tough tackling has arisen, yet again, in the light of Craig Gardner’s challenge on Cesc Fabregas at Birmingham on Saturday. It left the Spaniard struggling for the remainder of the game and means he is odds-against to face Barcelona on Wednesday night.

"You analyse the tackle and you show me in slow motion that it's a regular tackle,” said Wenger. “Show me why, then I am ready to accept it. But it wasn't.

“There is a difference between commitment and aggression. I like commitment, I have nothing against teams playing against us with commitment.”

The manager was then asked if he would instruct any of his defenders to rough up Lionel Messi, Barca's key man, on Wednesday night.

“No. No. No,” Wenger replied sternly. “If you find a player that I told has to kick somebody off the pitch in my last 25 or 30 years in this job, then you introduce him to me. Bring him back to me.

"It would be stupid if one of my players badly fouled Messi because they would be sent off.

"If a player goes over the top, you have the referee to make the rules. That's why they are on the pitch."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
30 Mar 2010