Ridiculous for Campbell to serve back-to-back suspension, says Wenger

LONDON: The possibility that England defender Sol Campbell might serve back-to-back suspensions is ridiculous, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday. 

Wenger blamed television for singling out Campbell after various pundits thought he ought to have been punished by the referee during Sunday's Community Shield match. 

He added, however, that if the Football Association acted on video evidence of Campbell's retaliation to a high tackle by Manchester United's Eric Djemba Djemba, then Arsenal would accept his suspension, possibly for three matches. 

Campbell gave the United substitute a kick with his heel after being caught in the stomach by the Cameroon international during the season opening gala match at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium which United won on penalties after a 1-1 draw. 

The referee did not see Campbell's action – where he will have stated he warned Djemba Djemba for dangerous play – leaving the door open for the FA to act on video evidence. 

“It just looks to me like people are after Sol Campbell and I would like to know why,” Wenger said. 

“I think it's the TV who charge the players. They didn't say a word about Djemba Djemba, they just charged Sol Campbell. 

“Of course he shouldn't have reacted ... but he couldn't walk for two days, the tackle was horrendous. There was no (TV) comment on the tackle ... I think I would have given a yellow card or a red card to both (players). 

“All this hype made about (this incident) looks to me just unreal. There's no common sense to it at all. 

“He (Campbell) is absolutely gutted. Sol is not the kind of guy with disciplinary problems.  

“Anyone who suspends Campbell (for this) does not understand the game of football.” 

Campbell missed the run-in to last season and the FA Cup final in May when he was suspended for three weeks for elbowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the 2-2 draw with United at Highbury in April that helped decide the championship. 

Arsenal have picked up 50 red cards in the six years since Wenger took charge with substitute striker Francis Jeffers running up the half century on Sunday when he kicked United's Phil Neville in retaliation for a tackle minutes before the Campbell incident. 

Campbell may be having problems with officials at the moment but captain Patrick Vieira appears to be over the disciplinary problems that brought a string of red cards earlier in his Arsenal career. 

Wenger says part of the reason for that is that the game has cleaned up its act. 

“Patrick retaliated sometimes to bad tackles ... I can show you a selection of tackles on Patrick that were horrendous and, for me, shameful for people who play football. 

“He has got over that and I think the game has become cleaner compared to the first years I was here. The game is less vicious and a lot has been done to make the game cleaner.” 

Wenger put Arsenal's failure to retain the league title last season down to slack defending but said he believed they could improve without buying players. 

“We conceded 42 goals which is too many but we can improve without additions,” said Wenger, whose only significant signing of the off-season was German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. – Reuters 

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