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Tempers fray as Arsenal are held to draw against Everton
Updated published : 17 Apr 2013 08:17:17Rss feed
Midfielder Jack Wilshere was involved in a half-time bust-up as Arsenal missed the chance to strengthen their bid for a top-three finish after being held to a goalless draw by Everton in a bruising encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
Television pictures showed England international Wilshere, just back from a six-week injury lay-off, involved in a fracas with Everton's Kevin Mirallas as the players walked off at the break, reacting angrily after appearing to be squirted with a water bottle - an incident which could yet be reviewed by the Football Association.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of the spat, which was quickly contained: "I don't know about it, but if it was (on television), then very soon everybody will know about it - and I will know about it as well. It was all right in the dressing room.''
The Gunners boss, though, felt referee Neil Swarbrick could have taken a stronger line during the game as Everton utilised all their physical qualities to keep alive slim hopes of gate-crashing the top four. There were several hefty challenges from the visitors, with midfielder Darron Gibson fortunate not to be sent off for twice pole-axing Theo Walcott.
Wenger said: "I felt that in the first half the referee didn't deal at all well with the intimidating physical challenges, but that we responded well to the physicality.
"It was detrimental to the fluency of our game, but we kept going, had good concentration.''
Wenger added: "But that is part of the game. We had to deal with that. You have to respect the effort Everton put in. They decided to make it very physical for us to disturb our game and sometimes went a little bit over the edge, but the referee had to make the right decision.
"I don't blame Everton for that. 'Protecting' is a big word, but they (referees) have to make the right decisions."
Everton boss David Moyes, meanwhile, defended his side's approach, saying: "Do you mean when we were a little bit rough with the tackling? Up north we do that quite often, that's actually allowed in football.
"We weren't going to come here and let Arsenal stroke the ball around and make 600 passes.''
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