Wenger calls for protection for Walcott

September 20, 2008
By Soccernet staff

Arsene Wenger wantsreferees to provide Theo Walcott with the "right protection".

The 19-year-old - who struck a superb hat-trick to help sink Croatia in the recent World Cup qualifier - was given a rough ride by Dynamo Kiev captain Andriy Nesmachniy during the Champions League opener in the Ukraine on Wednesday night.

Wenger was left seething by what he believed was a blatant attempt by the defender to "destroy" Arsenal's flying winger, but also lambasted the referee for not punishing what were some rash challenges.

Walcott himself accepts "being kicked about" is all part of the game nowadays.

"That is always the way of a player who gets a reputation for being dangerous. The first answer he gets is harsh treatment," said Wenger.

"We do not expect any presents from anybody - but we want as well the right protection from the referees."

Wenger continued: "You do not want to put any special pressure on the referees - but it is all in the rulebook.

"If for example you allow the first bad tackle then the second one becomes difficult for the referee.

"I thought that on Wednesday night, the target was not the ball.

"What is most important is that if a guy plays hard it is down to Theo to deal with it - but if the guy targets Theo as an individual, he has to be punished."