• October 22, 2016
    Last updated 18 minutes ago

premier league

Wenger in no mood to accept Xhaka’s red card

The sending off looked harsh, Arsenal manager says

14:09 October 16, 2016

London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he will not be appealing the red card given to Granit Xhaka during the Gunners’ narrow 3-2 win over Swansea City.

The midfielder was controversially sent off 20 minutes from the end of Sunday’s match at the Emirates Stadium for a late tackle on Modou Barrow.

That forced the North Londoners to hang on to a victory which sent them level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City.

But despite believing Xhaka had been on the receiving end of a rough decision, Wenger said he would not contest the dismissal.

“The sending off looked harsh,” said Wenger. “It was a definite foul but probably dark yellow. The referee went for a dark red. Will I be appealing it? No.

“He is not a dirty player. Do I need to speak to him? No. I think Barrow made a lot of it but you have to respect the decision. He has to learn from it.

“We kept our defensive shape with ten men, everyone was completely focused.”

Arsenal were seemingly in control at 2-0 and 3-1 after Theo Walcott capitalised on defensive mistakes to score twice in seven minutes in the first half before Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled a goal back for Swansea.

A stunning volley from Mesut Ozil restored Arsenal’s two-goal cushion in the second half only for a goal by Swansea’s Borja Baston and Xhaka’s red card to set up a nervy finish for the home side.

“A comfortable afternoon finished in an uncomfortable way but we got over the line,” said Wenger. “We played in patches some fantastic football. We got over the line because we played with spirit.

“Theo could have had a hat-trick and even four. But he scored two goals and has six (for the season) now.

“Ozil’s goal was a great goal. When you see his finishing you think he does not take his chances to shoot enough. In training he scores basically when he wants,” the veteran French boss added.

“I have some mixed feelings because it looked at some points comfortable and then it never was.

“We have the same number of points as Manchester City so it’s down to us to continue. If you look at the game the potential is very interesting but we have to be intelligent enough to improve.”

This was American Bob Bradley’s first game in English football and there were enough positive points for the Swansea manager to believe that the Welsh club can move away from the drop zone despite now sitting second-bottom with just four points.

“None of us walk out of here feeling good, but we’ve had a good week of training and we can see some good things that happened,” Bradley said.

“That game had many different parts. We started poorly. Defensively, the first two goals were not handled well, but we gave ourselves a real chance.

“We are confident we can turn this around. After the week of training we have just had, and the mentality of the team, for me we are going to become a good team.

“We were slow to step out, we gave them too much space ... We showed them too much respect.

“And it coincided with conceding poor goals but somewhere in there we eventually played with more confidence, we closed down more and we saw moments where we showed we could press.

“But we kept at it and there was some things I saw that we can build on. I don’t expect the fans to be satisfied, but like me I hope they saw a few things they liked and we can use as starting point.”