Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bergkamp 'Stamp' Is News to Wenger

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bergkamp 'Stamp' Is News to Wenger

Article excerpt


ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insisted he was unaware of Dennis Bergkamp's alleged stamp on Blackburn defender Nils-Eric Johansson towards the end of Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Highbury.

Bergkamp could be in trouble with the Football Association after TV cameras captured the controversial incident, when the Dutchman lost possession and appeared to tread on his opponent's hip as he tumbled in front of him.

But Wenger said: "I know nothing about it. Nobody said anything to me about it after the game, including (Blackburn manager) Graeme Souness."

Referee Graham Barber confirmed he did not see the incident, but it is possible the FA will call for their video panel to look at it.

If Bergkamp is charged he could face a three-game ban.

Meanwhile, unless there has been an overnight change in his approach, Wenger will have assembled his first-team squad after training this lunchtime and addressed them as a unit.

After three defeats in a week, harsh words may have been anticipated by those who are unfamiliar with the methods of the Arsenal manager.

Instead, in a controlled and logical way, Wenger, after watching a video yesterday of the Blackburn game, may even repeat what he said in the immediate aftermath of the latest setback.

"You played well, you created chances and you came across a goalkeeper in unbelievable form," he said. "I could not have asked for more." There was no lock-in, no stony silence.

He may even echo the reaction of Souness, who knew his team were fortunate to survive a battering.

The overriding message before the players prepare in earnest for the Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will be a simple one: "Just carry on as you have been. The victories will return."

Wenger trusts his players. The word is that only once in his six years at the club has he raised his voice in anger during or after a match and that was at halftime in the 6-1 hammering at Old Trafford two years ago with his team already 5-1 down. He will have studiously looked for reasons behind the recent slump that has brought defeats, all by 2-1, away to Everton and at home to Auxerre and Blackburn. …

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