Arsene Wenger: Granit Xhaka’s not a dirty player – as he hails team spirit after ten-man Arsenal go joint top with sixth successive Premier League win
PUBLISHED: 11:52 16 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:52 16 October 2016
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Arsene Wenger insisted red card recipient Granit Xhaka is not a ‘dirty player’ after the Swiss international was sent off for a cynical foul on Swansea City’s Modou Barrow in his own half during his team’s 3-2 victory yesterday.
However, the Frenchman said the combative midfielder would learn from the experience. He also claimed the Swans Gambia born pacy wideman Barrow ‘made a lot of it’.
In a topsy-turvy game, Theo Walcott netted a first half pair to put the Gunners in full control before Gylfi Sigurdsson’s left footed curler gave Swansea a lifeline before half time.
Mesut Ozil made it 3-1 after the interval with a technically perfect close range volley that sent the crowd into raptures – but Baston Borja’s goal and Granit Xhaka’s red card made it a nervous final 20 minutes for the Gunners.
Wenger said: “It was harsh. It was a dark yellow and the referee went for bright red.
“He has to learn from it but we will not be appealing. It was a deliberate foul.”
Praising his team’s spirit after they held on with 10 men to gain a sixth straight Premier League win which sent them joint top with Manchester City on 19 points.
He added: “It was a comfortable afternoon that finished very uncomfortably,
“I went through all the emotions because we went two nil up and then from out of nowhere it was 2-1,
“We went 3-1 up but suddenly it was 3-2. Then we were down to 10 men and you think what looked like a promising afternoon could become a nightmare.
“In the end our solidarity and our spirit got us through and over the line but in the end it was much harder than it could have been.”
“It’s good momentum and what’s good is that we win the games but in the dressing room we still think we go up another level,
“I felt that at times we played fantastic and in other situations we were too easy.
“That’s what we want to correct and we want to keep out focus. We want to keep the momentum going.”
When questioned after the game Barrow, the Swansea player fouled by Xhaka that led to the sending off