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Wenger calls for protection
17 Oct 2006 - 09:54:58
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thinks goalkeepers should receive more protection and believes Gunners shot-stopper Jens Lehmann has been targeted by opposition players for special treatment.
Wenger is concerned that the head injuries Chelsea duo Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini suffered in Saturday's evening's 1-0 defeat at Reading are part of an unfortunate pattern that has emerged this year.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer sustained a cheekbone fracture in last season's FA Cup semi-final defeat to west Ham United while Newcastle's Shay Given suffered a perforated bowel last month, also against the Hammers.
Wenger insisted: "It has been sometimes a clear strategy to upset Jens Lehmann. That's been done in plenty of games, everyone can see that.
"It's just not good enough. We have to make sure that referees have enough in their locker to deal with the incidents.
"I can't imagine a player will go in to try and hit another player on the head with his knee because you know you can kill the player.
"But this year there have been four incidents - Given, Schwarzer - then you have Cech and Cudicini. It cannot be coincidence that suddenly you have four."
Lehmann added: "It is a man's game, but these men have children and wives and their children don't want to see their fathers end up with lifelong damage, driven around in a wheelchair or not being able to work anymore.
"I have never injured a player and I really want to retain this record because I respect my opponents. But now if they want to have a go at me then I will have to change my game because there is no protection from the referees.
"Mike Riley did not whistle on Cudicini's foul and even asked Petr Cech to leave the pitch. Did he not know that as a goalkeeper you are allowed to be treated on the pitch?"