By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger wants to draw a line under the defeat at Stoke on Saturday but, at the same time, he remains defiant in his views about the tackling at the Britannia Stadium.
The Arsenal manager has courted controversy this week with his response to suggestions his side lacked courage at the weekend in the 2-1 defeat in the Potteries.
The issue enveloped the Champions League tie with Fenerbache on Wednesday. It hogged the headlines in the build-up and was also high on the agenda with journalists at the post-match press conference.
“We have to end that story,” commented the Frenchman after the 0-0 draw with the Turkish side. “But I maintain what I said.
“I know what I said and [my views] have not been transformed into bitterness after the defeat. It is an answer to a statement made by a player from Stoke about my players.
“I congratulated Stoke on their victory from after the game. But I was not happy with some tackles and I just wanted to say that you don’t need to be brave to tackle a guy from behind. The brave one is the guy who tries to play football. I maintain that strongly.
“Sometimes in England you can say ‘oh you didn’t fancy that’. Of course we don’t fancy that because that is not football.
“You can look at the Fair Play table, who is top? Arsenal Football Club. So first of all we have no lessons to learn from anybody on that front. Look at the team with the least fouls in the Premier League - it is Arsenal Football Club.
“I am responsible for the behaviour of my team and when you look at the Fair Play table, you see that Arsenal are top. And that [includes] the behaviour of the manager on the touchline and the players on the field. I do not make that table.
“Instead of having a go at us you should look somewhere else.”Copyright 2013 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 6 Nov 2008