Wenger pays a heavy penalty

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger (left) has words with English referee Mike Dean during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, on Dec 31, 2017.
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger (left) has words with English referee Mike Dean during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, on Dec 31, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Arsenal boss gets three-game touchline ban, £40k fine and has to explain comments to FA

LONDON • Arsene Wenger was on Friday handed a three-match touchline ban and fined by the Football Association over comments he made about the refereeing of last Sunday's Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion.

In a separate case, the Arsenal manager has also been asked by English football's governing body to provide his observations on what he said about penalty decisions that went against the Gunners in each of their past two matches over the festive period, against the Baggies and Chelsea.

"Arsene Wenger will serve a touchline ban for Arsenal's next three matches after he was charged with misconduct," an FA statement said.

"It follows an independent regulatory commission hearing today at which the Arsenal manager admitted that his language and behaviour in the match officials' changing room after the West Brom game on Sunday was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee. He was also fined £40,000 (S$72,000)."

Wenger was furious after the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns on New Year's Eve, when Arsenal defender Calum Chambers was penalised by referee Mike Dean for a handball that resulted in the home side scoring a last-minute spot-kick equaliser.

Arsenal conceded another penalty in their Premier League fixture against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, when Eden Hazard went down following a challenge from Hector Bellerin. The match ended 2-2.

Wenger will start his touchline ban with today's FA Cup third-round tie at Nottingham Forest.

It will also cover the League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea on Wednesday and next weekend's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

Forest wasted little time in teasing Wenger over his ban. "Mr Wenger, if you'd like to upgrade your stand ticket to a hospitality package then you can do so by following this link. #NFFC," the club said on its official Twitter account.

The link provided Wenger with a list of the hospitality packages on offer for the match.

Wenger was asked about his controversial comments during a press conference on Friday.

"I maintain what I said in the press conference (after the Chelsea game) - 100 per cent. I have nothing to change in that," said the Frenchman, who claimed that referees were "living in the dark ages" and are siding against his team.

Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham are also in FA Cup third-round action today, at home to Wimbledon.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that his main focus is still on the Premier League and the Champions League, but will not undervalue the FA Cup.

"I think for a club like Tottenham, to be consistent in the top four, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League, that is so important," he said.

"And then of course the Carabao (English League) Cup and FA Cup are important. If we can win, of course we want to win."

The Argentinian added that he will also make sure to play a strong line-up against League One side Wimbledon.

"We showed massive respect to Swansea with the starting XI that we chose on Wednesday. We are going to show the same on Sunday," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 07, 2018, with the headline 'Wenger pays a heavy penalty'. Print Edition | Subscribe