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Hunger is back at Barca

Barcelona
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By ESPN Staff

Wenger backing Eduardo to beat the boo-boys

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed Eduardo to beat the boo-boys, but accepted the striker faced more injustice from referees in the penalty area.

The Croatian marksman was jeered by sections of the Wembley crowd during last night's World Cup qualifier, when England secured a place in South Africa following a resounding 5-1 victory.

Eduardo is facing a two-match European ban, which Arsenal are appealing, after UEFA ruled the Brazil-born forward had ''deceived the referee'' when he was awarded a controversial spot-kick during the Champions League qualifier against Celtic.

Wenger has already slammed the saga as a ''witch-hunt'', maintaining Eduardo has been unfairly singled out. The Gunners boss, though, feels the striker has been through much worse, having spent the best part of a year on the sidelines following an broken leg.

''Any situation you face as a top-level player you have to deal with, and you can only do that by being mentally strong,'' said Wenger. ''The situation has been created by the media impact of his case, but that is not the worst.

''The worst thing is that now he is not given penalties when they are penalties. That is much worse. The one last night against England was a penalty.''

Wenger, though, maintained: ''I do not believe it will affect his game. He is a player who has gone through much more difficult things than that. On the one side, a good way to deal with that is that he is in good health. This is a minor event compared to what he has gone through before.''

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may have felt the decision to ban Eduardo will have ''sent a message'' to the divers, but Arsenal are not giving up hope of having UEFA's ruling overturned.

Wenger stressed: ''You want everybody to be treated fairly, and I do not believe he is treated fairly. There was a good opportunity to take a media campaign against many players, which you did not do. You cannot give him the feeling that he has been treated fairly. You will never get that from him.''

The Arsenal manager continued: ''I do not want to fight with the whole Premier League because of that. I just think we want to fight against diving. I did not hide after the game. I said he made more of it, yes, but considering Eduardo's case it is not a clear case.

''We have proof that he has been touched. You will find a lot of players who will make a little bit more of it. There is a fine line between being shrewd and everyone supports you and saying it is a dive. If you can construct this case, then okay, let's do it. But how do you define intent? I saw one last night in Serbia.''

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