Arsene Wenger rages at Stoke 'cowards' and accuses Potters of trying to injure his players
Published 00:00 05/11/08 By By Mike Walters
Arsene Wenger blew his top and branded Stoke cowards last night - then told the Football Association they could not gag him.
Wenger reacted angrily to Thomas Sorensen's jibe that Arsenal "lacked spine" during their 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, blasting the Stoke keeper for getting Robin van Persie sent off by "acting like he's two months in hospital".
And he added: "For me, the brave one is the player who is trying to play football, not the one who tackles from behind. That's the coward."
In the most outspoken outburst of his 12-year reign, Wenger accused Potters' defender Ryan Shawcross of clattering into Emmanuel Adebayor with no intention of winning the ball - and levelled the same charge at Rory Delap over his challenge on England winger Theo Walcott.
Gunners striker Adebayor will be out for three weeks, but the FA are likely to demand an explanation from Wenger over his amazing rant, which left Stoke fans accusing him of sour grapes.
The Arsenal boss insisted he will fight any attempt to censor him and threatened to march into Soho Square with medical evidence to back his case by spluttering: "Do you want me to show you the X-rays of our players?"
His side could qualify for the Champions League knockout phase if they beat Fenerbahce at the Emirates tonight and Dynamo Kiev beat Porto.
But that game has been overshadowed byWenger's tirade, which was apparently triggered by Sorensen's claim that the Gunners lacked the fighting spirit to win the title.
Wenger fumed: "For me, you need to have more courage to play football when you know that someone is tackling you from behind without any intention to play the ball.
"Do you think Delap tried to play the ball when he tackled Walcott? Or that Shawcross tried to play the ball when he tackled Adebayor off the pitch?
"All the players have been injured deliberately. I can show some tackles where I can prove what I say.
"When anyone questions the courage of my team, I'm sorry, but the team that tries to play football respecting the rules is the brave one.
"I'm not ready to listen to things that are completely untrue and make people who are cowards look brave. I don't accept the way my players have been treated - first they get no protection, and on top of that they are cowards. I say what I think, and I am entitled to that.
"Do you really think that, after more than 30 years in football, I can't see when someone intends to play the ball or not?
"I have been here (in England) for 12 years and I know how it works. But in sport, courage is to respect the rules, not to kick. If you are a boxer, and you kick an opponent in the face, does that make you brave?
"Sorensen has come out and said these things about us, but have you seen what he made of the van Persie incident? He acted like he's two months in hospital.
"We lost, so congratulations to Stoke. But I just say that Bacary Sagna has been injured by a player (Andy Griffin) with no intention to play the ball, Walcott has been injured by a player with no intention to play the ball."
Stoke chairman Peter Coates hit back at Wenger, saying: "I couldn't disagree with him more. We don't have nasty players who go out to injure people."
PROBABLE TEAMS FOR TONIGHT'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CLASH
ARSENAL Almunia, Sagna, Song, Toure, Clichy, Fabregas, Diaby, Denilson, Nasri, van Persie, Bendtner
FENERBAHCE Volkan, Gokhan, Lugano, Edu, R Carlos, Kazim, Selcuko, Deivid, Ugur Boral, Guiza, Semih
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