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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 7 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 26, 2007

Wenger braced for FA charges over brawl

Arsene Wenger admitted the mass brawl at the end of the Carling Cup final had taken the shine off a decent contest - and accepted repercussions looked inevitable.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea are likely to face sanctions from the Football Association after Wenger and his counterpart Jose Mourinho raced onto the Millennium Stadium pitch to try to quell the fracas, which began when Blues midfielder Mikel Jon Obi kicked the ball away at a free-kick after pulling back Kolo Toure.

When the dust had settled, referee Howard Webb showed each man a red card - along with one for Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who had only just come on as a substitute.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas were cautioned.

Wenger said: 'I am disappointed with the brawl because I do not think it reflected the quality of the game, both teams went for it in a fair way.

'People will keep somewhere in a little place in their brain that they saw a good football game. I am proud of that.'

The Arsenal manager added: 'Frankly, I felt a few punches were exchanged, not only from our side.

'I do not know if I am responsible for what happened because of what has previously happened between myself and Mourinho.

'If I am guilty I can take it. I do not feel that way. I just feel it was tense. Both teams wanted to win.

'Kolo gets pulled back and their guy kicks the ball away. Nobody knows what happens when you kick the ball away. Sometimes the referee gives you a yellow card, sometimes not.

'I do not feel it is too bad if we are responsible because next time we do not play against Chelsea.'

Wenger maintained: 'I went on the field to ensure nothing major happened. I wanted to calm things down. I am not strong enough to do that. Maybe I overestimated my power a little bit.

'I am sure that the players will be punished. Will it be once or twice, who knows?

'With the FA you always have a good chance to worry. It is better to worry with them.'

The Arsenal manager, however, insisted all was not lost as his young side eventually were beaten 2-1 after taking the lead through Theo Walcott's first goal for the club following an electric start.

Wenger said: 'Since the beginning of the season there has been a great team spirit in this squad. Every time we have responded.

'That is why I felt against Chelsea, if we had kept our calm, we had enough energy and mental resources to come back.

'The incident killed our last chance to come back to 2-2. After that the referee does not allow you to get into the game anymore.'

Referee Webb consulted with his assistant before showing Adebayor a red card, apparently for clashing with Blues full-back Wayne Bridge.

The Togo striker, however, protested his innocence, and it has been suggested team-mate Emmanuel Eboue was in fact guilty of the alleged offence.

Adebayor was eventually escorted from the pitch by Arsenal physio Gary Lewin, and now looks set for a three-match ban.

The striker said: 'My reaction after the card did not mean I wanted to hit the referee - I just wanted to know why he gave me the red card. I do not think I did anything wrong.'

Chelsea boss Mourinho, meanwhile, accepted such incidents are understandable, if not defendable.

He said: 'Sometimes mature people lose control of their emotions. You cannot kill a player because something happened.

'If Mikel did something wrong, it is not my job to kill him, it is my job to educate him.'