No Wenger challenge on Xhaka's red card

Referee Jonathan Moss giving Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka (No. 29) a red card for a tackle on Modou Barrow (lying prone on the ground) during the 3-2 win over Swansea City on Saturday. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of his midfielder: "He is n
Referee Jonathan Moss giving Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka (No. 29) a red card for a tackle on Modou Barrow (lying prone on the ground) during the 3-2 win over Swansea City on Saturday. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of his midfielder: "He is not a dirty player. Do I need to speak to him? No."PHOTO: REUTERS

Manager says decision was harsh and Swiss player deserved no more than 'dark yellow'

LONDON • Arsene Wenger will not be appealing against the red card given to Granit Xhaka during the Gunners' 3-2 win over Swansea City on Saturday.

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

That forced the North London club to hang on for a victory which sent them level on points - 19- with leaders Manchester City.

But, despite believing Xhaka had been on the receiving end of a rough decision, the Arsenal manager 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 10 men, everyone was completely focused."

Arsenal were seemingly in control at 2-0 and again at 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 nerve-wracking 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).

"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."

"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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'No Wenger challenge on Xhaka's red card'. Print Edition | Subscribe