By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger does not want to fuel the flames of the debate over violent tackling because he feels he has said his piece.
The Arsenal manager has long called for far heavier punishments to players who commit reckless challenges and, having been something of a lone voice on the matter, now finds himself surrounded by kindred spirits.
A wave of over-the-top tackles – and Danny Murphy’s suggestion that managers need to take responsibility for their players’ on-field behaviour – has kept the topic high on the agenda. And sure enough, Wenger was asked for his thoughts when he met reporters ahead of Saturday’s game with Birmingham.
Did the Frenchman think there were Premier League players who set out to deliberately hurt opponents? Exasperated, Wenger threw the question back.
“What do you think? That all the injuries are coincidence? It's not God who tackles people, it's players,” he replied.
“You know what I think. The newspapers were full of what I said and suddenly I'm not the only one any more. So I do not want to speak about that any more because I got a lot of stick in the whole country for what I said at the moment when I said it.
“You don't need to know more about what I said. I stick to what I said two months ago. I understand one thing: I cannot influence what happens in England so I shut my mouth.”
After some coaxing Wenger did offer a new take on the subject, suggesting that England should follow France’s disciplinary process to ensure stricter punishments were handed out to the worst offenders.
“We have to make sure that the players know when they go into the game that if they do something that the referee has not seen that is dirty they can get punished,” he said.
“That happens in some other countries like France. You can be punished in France. A dirty tackle that the referee has not seen - you're punished. Even if the referee has seen the tackle and it's not punished you can still be punished. You can get six months.”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