Arsene Wenger defended the way his Arsenal players handled themselves in a tough game on Tyneside yesterday, praising the mental control and composure that stopped the likes of Monreal and especially Francis Coquelin, who seemed to be targeted by the Newcastle players, from reacting and picking up our own bookings or even a red card.
The manager of the Magpies, Steve McLaren, bemoaned the referee´s insistence on showing yellow cards to his players too rashly, but if you look at the challenges, every one deserved it and there could have been more. As reported by The Mirror today, McLaren actually suggested that Coquelin made too much of his tackles, especially the one by Mitrovic that got him sent off.
He said, “I have seen it over and over The ball has come over his head, he is looking at the ball. There is no intent, there is no malice. It is coming down and he has stamped on his foot.
“I am very surprised after the way their player rolled about that he was able to carry on.
“It was definitely not dangerous. I hope I can appeal. No doubt we will lose it. But we want to appeal.”
No one else seems to feel that way, however, as both pundits on Match of the Day, former Gunner Martin Keown and Ruud Gullitt, feel that the physical and sometimes dangerous approach of Newcastle was deliberate and also that Arsenal players should have reacted more.
They thought that the Gunners were too nice and without a strong reaction to these tackles, another ref might have let the home team keep fouling us and getting away with it. We have seen this approach from opposing teams before (Stoke) and although I understand why Wenger is pleased when his team takes the high ground, is it time for us to start being smarter and make sure that the officials do not let other sides give us the rough treatment and kick us out of our football flow?
Keown was talking about players sticking up for each other and about Arsenal being `too nice´ and he has a point. Do we need to be nastier to stop this happening and perhaps cut down the injury problems at the same time?