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By ESPN Staff
Feb 29, 2008

Wenger: Players should be protected

LONDON COLNEY, England, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called on referees to give greater protection to players after the club's Croatian international striker Eduardo da Silva suffered a broken leg last weekend. 'If one team is making three times more foul tackles than the others then they need to be punished,' Wenger told reporters on Friday. 'I am not asking for special treatment. The referees have to find an answer. I don't want to go into what is right and wrong.' Brazilian-born Eduardo suffered a fractured left fibula and an open dislocation of his ankle joint after a tackle by Birmingham City defender Martin Taylor during Saturday's 2-2 league draw at St. Andrews. Wenger said his team had committed the least number of fouls over the last three years, a statement confirmed by OPTA Sportsdata, who compile team and player performance statistics for the Premier League. The Arsenal squad has been deeply affected, Wenger said, by Eduardo's plight and the Frenchman pointed out that the Croatian's season-ending injury was not the first of its kind to be suffered by an Arsenal player. '(Abou) Diaby was out for nine months from the end of last season after what was at the time a very bad tackle.' Wenger said he had not yet seen Eduardo, who was initially taken to hospital in Birmingham before being transferred to his London home, but said the first reactions following surgery to the compound fractures to his left leg were good. 'The most important thing is that has no signs of any infections,' said Wenger. Asked if he felt he would make a full recovery, he said: 'We think so.' Premier League leaders Arsenal, who hold a three-point lead over Manchester United, with Chelsea six points further back in third, host Aston Villa on Saturday. Dutch striker Robin van Persie has not yet recovered from a thigh injury and will not be rushed back, Wenger said. Arsenal are expected to be without several other players including Emmanuel Eboue (suspended), Kolo Toure (groin) and Tomas Rosicky (hamstring).