Arsene Wenger: Football can learn from sumo wrestling after derby fracas
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says footballers can learn from sumo wrestlers when it comes to respecting opponents after big matches, in light of the fracas that broke out after the Manchester derby.
Wenger says he had no first-hand information about what happened in the tunnel and dressing room at Old Trafford after Manchester City's 2-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday, when around 15 players and coaches were reportedly involved in a melee.
But the Arsenal boss said such incidents are "part of the intensity" of big matches and that he could understand if United were upset with City's celebrations, before pointing to a cultural lesson he learned when coaching in Japan in the 1990s.
"I don't know what happened really," he told a news conference. "It's difficult to take when you lose a big game when you see the 100 percent celebration on the other side. It's always experienced a little bit like an offence.
"And that's why, when I was in Japan, I admired sumo. Because in sumo, you can never tell which guy has won. He doesn't show his happiness because of respect for his opponent. And that shows how deep the culture is there of the respect of each other. Is it something we can copy? I don't think so, because it's not part of our culture."
Wenger's Premier League title-winning teams were known for having a few bust-ups with other teams -- including the infamous "Battle of the Buffet" with United -- and the longtime Arsenal boss said Sunday's incident should not be blown out of proportion.
"It's part of the incidents that sometimes can happen in big derbies," he said. "In fact, you're always very good, the press, because you build these things up like they're life or death and then when something happens after, you're surprised.
"That's part of the intensity and the importance of the game, sometimes it can go a bit overboard. It happened to us, it happened to them. It's unfortunate, but ideally you would commit 100 percent, 200 percent on the pitch and be an angel after. But it is not always the case."
Arsenal face West Ham on Wednesday looking for their first win in three league games, and Wenger said he will be without both Aaron Ramsey and Shkodran Mustafi for the match.
Ramsey injured his hamstring in the 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday and will only be out for "a short period," Wenger said.
Mustafi has still not recovered from a muscle injury he suffered in the 3-1 loss to United the previous weekend but could be back in time to face Newcastle on Saturday.
Ramsey's absence could open the door for Jack Wilshere to start his first league game of the season, although Wenger could also opt for Alex Iwobi or a more defensive option instead.
Olivier Giroud could potentially be in line for a start as well if Wenger opts to rotate his squad.
Giroud tied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Premier League record for most goals by a substitute with the equaliser against Southampton, but told L'Equipe that he may have to consider finding a new club in January if he cannot get more regular playing time.
Wenger played down those comments, though, and said he wants to keep the striker.
"Personally I want him to stay at the club until the end of the season, and then we'll see," Wenger said. "He's a very important player, and I have a big respect and I am an admirer of Olivier Giroud.
"And if you look at his career, since he came here, look how many French caps he got since he's at Arsenal Football Club. I think he has not wasted his time. I can understand the frustration of every player who doesn't play, but as well that's part of the job when you go to a big club."
Wenger also deflected questions about renewed negotiations with Mesut Ozil over a contract extension, after reports claimed Arsenal are set to make the midfielder a final offer, with his current deal expiring next summer.
"Negotiations as always are going on with everybody," Wenger said. "Is it people who have two years to go, one year to go, or three months to go? Our door is always open. For the rest, I cannot tell you much more. The best way to deal with these kinds of things is to keep it as discreet as possible."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.