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Aug 27, 2010

Wenger hits out at the game's 'rugby' tactics

Arsene Wenger has told referee Chris Foy to watch out for any "rugby" tactics at set pieces when Arsenal travel to Blackburn on Saturday looking to make amends for last season's loss.

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Sam Allardyce's Rovers won 2-1 at Ewood Park last season and Wenger was furious with their tactics, accusing them of showing "no purpose to play the ball'' as they blocked keeper Lukasz Fabianski at every opportunity. Wenger also blamed referee Martin Atkinson for not providing his team with more protection.

Wenger insists he respects teams' right to play physical or direct football if they so wish, so long as they adhere to the laws of the game.

"When a team plays long ball and head the ball and become physical I accept that completely and I respect that - but it has to be in respect of the rules,'' said the Arsenal boss. "I believe everybody looks at his squad and tries to find a way where the game is most efficient and we developed one way. It is not the only way, I respect every other way as long as the referees get the rules respected.

"I saw some pictures last Sunday. You cannot say anymore it is football - it is rugby on the goalkeepers [more] than football. The referees cannot go on and accept that. When you see how [Stoke defender Ryan] Shawcross kicked [Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho] Gomes, how [Robert] Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football anymore. If the referees allow that you cannot accept that because that has nothing to do with the game.''

Wenger put a particular focus on set pieces, where Blackburn often seek to use their tall, strong players to make goalkeepers' lives a nightmare.

"I believe that in some situations the goalkeepers are not protected,'' he said. "You cannot have players whose main role is to stop the goalkeepers from catching the ball and not even go for the ball.''

Arsenal were on Thursday drawn against Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga and Partizan Belgrade in Group H of the Champions League, which this season will see the final played at Wembley.

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