Wenger defends criticism of Shawcross tackle

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended the comments he made about Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross whose tackle broke midfielder Aaron Ramsey's leg in two places last Saturday.

He had called Shawcross's challenge on the 19-year-old Wales international "horrendous and unacceptable" in the immediate aftermath of the Premier League match.

Asked about his reaction, a highly animated Wenger stood by his comments when he met reporters at a news briefing before the league game with Burnley on Saturday.

"I stand by what I said 100 percent," Wenger said.

"I knew exactly what would happen the whole week, that was quite easy to predict. I am sitting here now like I am in a tribunal. What do I have to defend? Is it a football game or something else ?

"I can understand people want to be committed against us, and I have no problem with that.

"I love the commitment of the English game. I don't want to change that and it makes the game even more attractive, but high commitment demands fair intention as well."

Ramsey, who has made 29 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal this season scoring four goals, spoke for the first time about the tackle in a statement on the club website on Friday.

"It is difficult for me to take everything in at the moment. I thought I had been progressing well this season, so of course this is a real setback," he said.

"It is very hard to take but I am young and have time on my side. I had an operation last weekend and, while it will take time for my leg to heal, I am determined and focused on overcoming this injury."

ANGELS AND DEVILS

Wenger said he did not want tackling removed from the game, explaining: "I admire a great technical tackle as much as a creative pass.

"A tackle is an art in itself - that means you always have your eye on the ball, never with a high foot, in your tackle you can already make a pass.

"It is not Arsenal against the rest of the world. What I say here is valid for the Arsenal players as well... I defend football. It is not that we are apart from anybody else. We are the same.

"I am continuing to defend the values that I believe are important for our club and football. That doesn't mean we are angels and everyone else is the devil. It is for everybody."

Shawcross, 22, has since apologised to Ramsey for the challenge and asked to visit him.

He left the field in tears after being dismissed for the challenge in last week's match, which Arsenal won 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium. Ramsey is not expected to play for possibly nine months.