Image: Tim Boyd
This may be a controversial view among Salut! Sunderland readers, but what more was Arsène Wenger supposed to say about the Jack Wilshere sending off?
We’ve been quick here to deplore the lack of consistency – okay, let’s be even more blunt and say the hypocrisy – shown by the Arsenal manager when it comes to foul play and cheating. Those famously selective powers of observation have let him down on numerous occasions when a few well-chosen words would have sent out an honest, dignified message.
But on Saturday, Wenger made no attempt to defend his young midfielder, whose rash lunge ruined a superb display and brought its correct punishment. Was he supposed to add: “And what is more, he should be – ‘ow you Eenglish say? ‘ung, drawn and quartered for his disgusting offence which proves once and for all that far from being a team of elegant, high-minded athletes imbued with the purist Corinthian spirit, Arsenal are a bunch of thugs and cloggers.”
He may have had a strop later when asked about another Asrenal challenge, and I don’t think he expressed embarrassment at Chamakh’s dive, but he had probably just run out of humility.
I think Wenger struck precisely the right balance between sensible condemnation and the vilification of his own players that is, frankly, not his job.
But it is true that the incident should finally persuade him that even the most gifted of players, intent on performing with skill and intelligence, are capable of making late or potentially dangerous challenges. Serious foul play is wrong, whether committed by a Jack Wilshere (not to mention a Martin Keown) or a Martin Taylor or Ryan Shawcross
The difference between exquisite timing and injury-threatening recklessness can be very small indeed.