By Chris Harris
Jack Wilshere admitted he fully deserved his red card against Birmingham on Saturday but Arsène Wenger wants his player's 'crime' to be put into perspective.
The 18-year-old was dismissed for a clumsy lunge on Nikola Zigic in stoppage time that left the Serbian striker with a bruised ankle and reduced Arsenal to ten men for the closing moments of their 2-1 victory.
Wenger and Wilshere had no complaints about Martin Atkinson's decision to show a red card but, as the debate over dangerous tackling raged after the game, the Arsenal manager insisted that a distinction must be drawn between one mistimed tackle and the systematic fouling deployed by others.
"You have to make a difference between an accidental red card and a team who tries to kick you from the first to the last minute," Wenger told reporters. "There is no comparison.
"Jack made one tackle on Saturday. Do you want me to show you some tackles on my players? I am always available for the Press but let's be serious a little bit.
"No matter what we do, it is wrong. If we get kicked the whole game and do not reply, people say we are too soft. But I don't believe we are too soft. We showed that at Chelsea where we were not dominated physically at all.
"I tell my players to play football. I can influence my players with the vision I have of the game but I cannot influence what people say about us. If you respond every time to the judgement of others you go one day north, the next day south, then east and then west and players don't know where you're going any more. So you try to focus on the way you want to play football."
Wenger was also asked whether he thought Wilshere had been seeking retribution after a clash with Zigic in the centre circle that left the teenager with a split lip.
"I don't think Jack saw the player he was tackling," replied the Frenchman. "He just thought I lost the ball, there's a minute to go, I must chase and win this ball back, but he mistimed his tackle.
"He just said to me: 'I mistimed the tackle I got a red card and that's it'."Copyright 2016 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