By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has reacted angrily to suggestions that his side had “lacked bravery” at Stoke on Saturday.

The Arsenal manager was speaking ahead of the Champions League tie with Fenerbahce on Wednesday but in reaction to the defeat at the Britannia Stadium over the weekend.

Wenger admitted the visitors were poor and were well-beaten by Tony Pulis’ rough, tough side. However the Frenchman believes the subsequent media criticism has been over the top, especially as Arsenal ended up with a couple of nasty injuries.

“When you lose a game you have to listen to many things,” he said. “Some of them are right and many of them are wrong.

“It is down to me to analyse what could be right or wrong in there. I trust what I see and what I feel. It is more important for us to be calm, focused, let people talk and show what we can do on the pitch.

“I read that my team were not brave. I can say that they are brave and, for me, you need to have more courage to play football when you know that someone is tackling you from behind without any intention to play the ball.

“The one who is tackling is not the brave one. For me the brave one is the player who is trying to play football.

"We were not protected on Saturday but, having said that, I congratulate Stoke. They had a great performance but if the result of that is that my players are cowards then I don't accept that.

"For example [it seems that] Walcott is not brave and the brave one is the guy who tackles Walcott from behind. That is just not true.

“This is something I want to establish. For me the brave one is not the one who tries to tackle the man from behind. In fact that is the cowardly one.”

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4 Nov 2008