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By ESPN Staff
Apr 23, 2008

Hleb season ended by three-match ban

Alexander Hleb will miss the rest of Arsenal's season through suspension after he accepted a charge of violent conduct from the Football Association. The Belarus winger was involved in an off-the-ball clash with Reading captain Graeme Murty during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Hleb appeared to strike the Royals defender with his open hand, but the incident - which left both Murty and the Reading bench incensed - was missed by referee Peter Walton. However, officials at Soho Square, as well as Walton himself, reviewed television footage and subsequently charged the Arsenal winger. The resulting suspension - which rules the 26-year-old out of the games with Derby, Everton and finally Sunderland - is a punishment Hleb would have received on the day had it been seen and punished by a red card from the referee. An FA statement read: 'Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb has admitted a charge of violent conduct and will serve a three-match suspension with immediate effect. 'Hleb was charged for his involvement in an incident with Reading defender Graeme Murty during the second half of the match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday 19 April. 'The incident was not seen by referee Peter Walton. Having now watched video footage of the incident, Walton has informed The FA that, had he seen it at the time, he would have shown Hleb a red card for violent conduct.' The loss of Hleb is another blow to manager Arsene Wenger, who has seen his team's season unravel over the past eight weeks having at one stage looked well set for both the Premier League title and European glory.