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Wenger blasts 'stupid' Blues fans
Published : 18 Oct 2009 18:01:20
A section of Blues fans began the chant as Arsenal forward Theo Walcott lay clutching his injured knee in the first half at the Emirates Stadium. England forward Walcott was making a first start of the Premier League campaign after being sidelined with a back problem. However, the 20-year-old, hoping to force his way into Fabio Capello's World Cup squad next summer, hobbled off in the 33rd minute after damaging his knee when falling under Liam Ridgewell's hefty early challenge. While Gunners boss Wenger accepts such a physical approach is one of the "beauties" of the English game, making light of such tackles is no laughing matter for the Frenchman. Saturday's incident brought back memories of Taylor's challenge on Eduardo at St Andrew's in February 2008, which left the Croatia striker with an horrific double leg fracture and out of the game for almost a year. After that match, Wenger claimed Taylor "should never play again", a statement he later retracted. But the Arsenal manager was left less than impressed by Saturday's reaction from a section of the travelling support. "Frankly, that is atrocious," said Wenger. "They will not be remembered for the quality of their taste with that kind of remark. "I just thought 'that is low' and put it in the ranks of stupidity. "One starts to say something stupid, everybody follows, even intelligent people. "People lose their identity together and their sense of responsibility." Walcott will have a scan to assess the extent of the injury but looks to be a major doubt for the Champions League trip to AZ Alkmaar. Wenger added: "I want the physicality to stay, it is down to the referee to make the right decision. "I don't want to go too overboard because one of the beauties of the English game is a total commitment, and if you cut that out of the game, the players will not improve any more. "So we have to cut out what is really dangerous, but we have to keep the basics, the commitment that makes the league more attractive than any other." Birmingham manager Alex McLeish felt there was no intent to injure Walcott in Ridgewell's challenge, which referee Lee Probert did not deem a foul. "It was like watching Stuart Pearce again, committed to getting the ball before the forward," said McLeish, who said he was not aware of any chants. "The problem sometimes is in the follow through. But what do you do? You will end up not making a tackle at all." Despite the loss of Walcott, Arsenal had already taken control of the game following two goals in as many minutes from Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby. However, the Gunners seemed to switch off as a routine ball into the box was not cleared and goalkeeper Vito Mannone - preferred to fit-again Manuel Almunia - dropped his attempted catch to allow Lee Bowyer to score from close range. After allowing themselves to be pushed onto the back foot for a spell during the second half, Arsenal eventually made sure of a seventh successive win with a well-taken breakaway goal from substitute Andrey Arshavin. With Chelsea having lost at Aston Villa, the Gunners - who have a game in hand - made up some early ground in the title race. "The league is much tighter than everybody predicted before the season," said Wenger. "We have to be happy, to take that potential in an intelligent way. When we are cruising, we have to keep focused and not lose it." New Birmingham owner Carson Yeung - who has promised McLeish a transfer kitty of up to £40million to spend in January - was at yesterday's game. McLeish is already drawing up his targets as the Blues look to cement their place among England's elite clubs. "We have always had lists in the event of 'wouldn't it be great if we could afford that kind of player?'," McLeish said. "But we have also got lists of players that maybe were more in our parameters over the last couple of years. "We will certainly try and look at bringing in quality and not quantity to augment this rather fragile squad."