By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes football’s image was tarnished by the nature of Real Madrid’s midweek red cards.
Jose Mourinho’s team were cruising to a 4-0 Champions League win over Ajax when two of their players - Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos - were sent off for blatant time-wasting in the final minutes.
Madrid have been accused of orchestrating the two dismissals to ensure their two players were not suspended for the knockout stages. Instead, Alonso and Ramos will serve their bans in the meaningless final group game against Auxerre.
A UEFA disciplinary unit are deciding whether Madrid have a case to answer and Wenger believes that sanctions should be imposed for clubs who deliberately manipulate the rules over suspensions.
“I do not want to see that,” he said. “It's a pity to see that from a big club. When you see that, overall, it gives a very bad image of our game that we don't want.
"I respect Real Madrid for their quality, what they are doing [on the pitch], but if it's Real Madrid or somebody else, you don't want to see that on a football pitch.
"It's always the same: on a football pitch, you want to respect people who pay money to watch a football game. What they want is to watch football, not to watch these kinds of things.
"If it's Arsenal or Real Madrid, or anybody else, you don't want to accept that."
It’s easy to see how managers can bend the rules to ensure key players are free from suspension ahead of big matches. So has Wenger ever contemplated it himself?
"You never say that it doesn't cross you mind, and you have to be completely honest about it.
"It crosses your mind if you play two games later the biggest game of the season and you have a meaningless game just after and the players can be suspended.
“But I think what happened the other night is the best demonstration that you should not consider it because it looks, frankly, terrible."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