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Mar 12, 2012

Wenger: We must be wise against Toon

Arsene Wenger hopes his players have learned their lesson regarding play-acting when Arsenal take on Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

• Wenger: Third place is Spurs' to lose
• Preview: Arsenal v Newcastle

Gervinho was given a harsh introduction to English football on the opening day of the Premier League season at St James' Park when he was shown a straight red card for raising his hands to Joey Barton. Arsenal's Alex Song was also later retrospectively banned for a stamp on Barton.

Last weekend, Newcastle snatched a 1-1 draw from a heated Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland, since when both clubs have been charged with misconduct following a match which saw Black Cats forward Stephane Sessegnon shown a red card for lashing out at Magpies midfielder Cheick Tiote, who immediately went to ground.

Wenger believes Ivory Coast international Gervinho, and his team-mates, will be wiser from the whole experience, although such situations leave the Gunners boss disappointed.

"Gervinho was shocked because he felt he didn't do a lot. I think he learned his lesson in the first game and it's better than after 20," Wenger said. "It's better to know what you are facing. If you want to play abroad, work abroad, then you have to adapt to the local culture.

"It [play-acting] annoys me, but it can happen with one of my players as well. For example, [Liverpool striker Luis] Suarez got the penalty last week. It was no penalty. Nobody touched him.

"Where they go overboard is that nobody touched him. I can understand if they push the ball too far, but when no one touches him? Then when they roll down the sock, take the shin pad out like he has been kicked like mad. It is a bit overboard. We don't need that."

The Gunners go into the home clash with Newcastle aiming to keep close up on third-placed Tottenham, who were beaten at Everton, and put distance between themselves and Chelsea, who beat Stoke on Saturday.

Arsenal have found some consistency in recent weeks, winning four from their last five Premier League games, which included back-to-back victories over Spurs and Liverpool.

Having crashed out of the FA Cup at Sunderland and been unable to overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League, despite the morale-boosting 3-0 home win, Wenger knows his men must retain focus if they are to stay the course.

"Newcastle is a team that has offensive strength so a good defensive performance will be needed," he said. "For a long time, we didn't put one big result after the other.

"But we have scored seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham, three against Milan and they are good teams. Overall, we have a flow in our game because maybe the confidence is higher."

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