'No angel' Wenger surprised by touchline ban

November 29, 2007

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he is 'no angel' in the dug-out but has defended the stance which saw him handed a touchline ban in the Champions League.

The Frenchman was sent to the stands by referee Eric Braamhaar during the 3-1 defeat in Sevilla on Tuesday night, after complaining about what he felt was time-wasting by home captain Daniel Alves.

However, Wenger watched the closing stages of the match from beside the advertising hoardings near the tunnel, which did not go down well with the fourth official, whose behaviour Wenger labelled as 'absolutely shocking'.

The one-match ban will come into force for the final Group H game against Steaua Bucharest at Emirates Stadium on December 12, although UEFA could, given Wenger's reluctance to leave the tunnel area, increase it when their disciplinary committee sits the following day.

While Wenger may have never served a touchline ban during more than 10 years at Arsenal, the 58-year-old is no stranger to controversy.

He was fined by the Football Association and warned as to his future conduct following a bust-up with then West Ham manager Alan Pardew at Upton Park in November 2006, and was also involved in an angry confrontation with Tottenham manager Martin Jol at Highbury seven months earlier.

However, Wenger feels any further punishment from European football's governing body over events in Spain 'would be very unfair'.

Wenger declared: 'I am not saying I am an angel on the touchline, but I have done much worse than what I did on Tuesday night.

'I am like everybody, sometimes there are periods when I am nervous and explode a bit quicker, but overall I try to control it.

'At the end of the day I know what I have done, and I know I have not done a lot.

'It's like if the speed limit is 60mph, sometimes you are not caught when you drive 70mph and sometimes you are caught when you drive 61. I drove 60 and a half.

'I was surprised that I was sent off for what I said.

'I said it was naive to give Alves time to waste that time. I said 'I bet with you he will sprint in two minutes'. It was less than two minutes.'

Wenger insisted he had no option but to remain in the tunnel area.

'I could not go to the stand and did not know how to get there,' he added. 'Personally I feel it is more dangerous for someone away from home to go to the stand than to stand in the corridor.'

Wenger does not intend to let the touchline ban faze him too much.

'For a long time I have wanted to see a game from a directors' box,' he joked.

'We will try to deal with the problem. You can always communicate [with the bench]. It is a very artificial rule.

'If I say to the guy next to me something he can communicate with the guy down on the bench.'

The defeat in Spain ended Arsenal's impressive unbeaten 28-game run, as Sevilla also assured themselves of a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

It also came at a cost, with midfielder Cesc Fabregas suffering a hamstring injury which looks set to rule the 11-goal midfielder out of Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Aston Villa.

Wenger revealed: 'We are very pessimistic for him, but he is still thinking he has a good chance.

'We will make a test tomorrow, we think he will be short for Saturday.

'Gael Clichy (thigh) and Alexander Hleb (hamstring) will have tests tomorrow, for them it looks optimistic, but Robin van Persie is out for two or three more weeks.'

Wenger will have captain William Gallas and striker Emmanuel Adebayor available after they were rested in midweek.

Midfielder Mathieu Flamini has recovered from his thigh strain and should feature at Villa Park, where Arsenal will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League, with Manchester United not in action until Monday.