By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is concerned that Bacary Sagna has not had the protection he deserves in recent matches.
The France defender begins a three-match suspension on Saturday after being sent off against Manchester City in midweek following an altercation with Pablo Zabaleta. Sagna will miss the FA Cup tie against Leeds, the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final at Ipswich and the Premier League trip to West Ham.
Wenger made no attempt to appeal Sagna’s red card but he is concerned that his right back has been the victim of some reckless challenges in recent weeks.
Lee Bowyer’s stamp during the win at Birmingham earned a retrospective three-match ban but Rio Ferdinand’s high challenge during the defeat at Manchester United went unpunished.
“It's true [that Sagna has not been protected],” said Wenger. “Because he still has pain today in the stomach from the Rio Ferdinand challenge.
“It was a bad challenge. They got away with it, we know that.
“He was not protected. But the referee did not see the Bowyer challenge, and I did not see it at the time either, so you have to accept that. He has been protected after that because he has been punished. Ferdinand has not been punished.”
Wenger admits that a build-up of anger may have caused Sagna to lose his customary cool against Man City. All the same, the manager believes the 27-year-old was in the wrong.
“Maybe [he was angry],” said Wenger. “He apologised and in my opinion rightly so because no matter what happens to you, you always have to master your reactions.
“But you do not always do that because there is an accumulation of incidents that happened to him - look what happened at Birmingham.
“He says he has been insulted by Zabaleta so he over-reacted, which he should not have done because he punishes himself and the Club.”
Sagna reflected on the midweek clash when he spoke to the Official Matchday Programme ahead of the Leeds game.
"Yes, I do [regret it]," he said. "I am the first one to say that this kind of behaviour has to be erased from football pitches but on Wednesday, I lost my temper.
"I am not this kind of player. I have played around 300 games as a professional and I have only seen two red cards.
"I want to apologise to the Arsenal fans as well as to my team-mates and to the Club. I should not have reacted like that. For the image of football, of the club and of my own, it’s not a good thing. But I am not a bad guy and I am not used to do things like that.
"This is a good lesson for me for the future. I will never make that mistake again."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