After the game - What Arsene really said

Last updated : 22 September 2003 By Bernard Azulay

Q: What's your feeling about the draw for your team being overshadowed by the incidents surrounding Patrick Vieira's sending and what happened after the game?

AW: Well after the game is after the game. During the game I think you have seen two good teams with err...with err...great discipline and great technical level. And I think Arsenal responded very well to a great disappointment Wednesday night, to come here and respond like we did, deserved a lot of credit. What happens after the fairness, I don't think a lot but err....I don't know....(bloody mobile phone ringing obscured Wenger's voice on the tape)...when you fight like we did today and the last minute you get the stand there and say thank you very much...err.....err...not say a word...that's a little bit.....the players were a little bit on the nerves which is understandable. When you fought like we did and you get a penalty like we did, in the last second of the game which was not very obvious at all, you can as well understand that some players get a little bit nervous (talk about an understatement!) after the game, even if I think not a lot happened. I think Van Nistleroy should have been sent off because he did Patrick before Patrick was ????? (not a great recording, sorry)

Q: Do you think peope might think your players reaction, I think they could probably understand the fact that they were happy to get a draw but I think they might think the reaction to Van Nistleroy in particular was unsportsmanlike?

AW: Welll err....if you want to convince me that Martin is a devil and Van Nistleroy an angel have a big problem. Because I think err....Van Nistleroy is quite provocative and I would say every Arsenal player would confirm that (so would a few Utd players judging by the million word expression on Roy Keane's face when he offered his "no comment" response to Claire Tomlinson's question about the Dutchman!)

Q: Do you think in a week when your club has been lectured by other managers particularly this one about diving, about simulation that this shows that perhaps it is not confined to one club?

AW: I think so, I think it's confined to twenty clubs and I agree that we have all to fight against it but err....I think they have some work to do as well here, like everywhere else.

Q: Do you think in situations where Van Nistleroy reacted to towards Martin's kick out that the video panel should also look at that because that's what got him sent off? (obviously this 'nana' was referring to Paddy's kick out!)

AW: I think err....the first reaction came from....with Patrick you mean(realising the journo's mistake!)

Q: Patrick yeah.

AW: I think the first reaction...he hits him after he made the foul and that's where Patrick retaliated but first Van Nistleroy hit him with his legs by extending his legs after he has made the foul. That's why I think he should have gone as well.

Q: (jumping immediately with disbelief at AW's slight inference that he accepted his captain's guilt!) Do you think though that Patrick should have gone, you say as well, do you accept that Patrick should have gone?

AW: I think he know with the yellow card, you know when you get a second yellow card....

Q: The action of Van Nistleroy made it more..that the referee was going to send him off as well didn't it ?

AW: I think that the referee should have sent Van Nistleroy off as well (for the THIRD time, in case any of them neglected to note his first two suggestions that Van N should have gone!) because he made the first foul and after he kicked Patrick err...with his...with his right leg

Q: Arsene is all of that any real excuse for the way the players celebrated in Van Nistelroy's face when he missed the penalty, with regard to shouting things at him.

AW: Well I..I..I don't know...I am here to speak about the way we played and err....and err...the great spirit we have shown today and err....I think that was fantastic after the moral knock down we got on Wednesday night. It was fantastic to come here, it needed a lot of character today to come here and get something out of the game, because you lose 3-0 against Inter at home and you go to Man Utd and everyone thinks we lose. And first of all I think the players were so determined that err...there was as well more...I don't think they er...wanted to show it that they were happy to miss the penalty, of course they cannot say you are happy when your opponent scores a goal but err...I think it was more...their attitude was I think with the penalty. Their attitude was more linked with this overall attitude during the game.

Q: Is there a danger that this is getting a little bit personal rather than just two clubs playing each other?

AW: I think the game was quite fair and err...apart from a few incidents I think the overall game was techincally....was quite fair but always at 0-0 when you go towards the end it can become very tense.

Q: Sol is waiting for an FA charge and Martin might face one, the result is that you are going to be thin at the back?

AW: Yes maybe, but we are not as far...I think err...I feel that err....the penalty was a little bit generous in the last second and that provoked err...a lot of incidents.

Q: Do you think the fear of losing made both teams a little bit inhibited ? (as only the second time I've sat in on a press conference since knackering my back the season before last I was determined to get at least one question in and I am sure it was much to the chagrin of all the journos and apparently to the relief of Arsene that I let him off the hook about all the after match hulabaloo with a football related question, as he appeared only too pleased to answer it!!

AW: Yes I think so. Nobody wanted to lose the game and nobody went...was really in a position where they had really to go and take all the risk to score and err...we less than Man Utd because for us today it was a great result here, after the fact that we conceded three goals, to come here to keep a clean sheet. When you are shocked like we were, it was very difficult to come out and play like nothing happened. You are always kind of inhibition straight after the game because you do not want to go into a crisis of confidence and lose a game err...just because you play careless. And the natural thing is of course err....I know that that is normal that's why I picked a more defensive team because I knew that you would play a little bit inhibited today

And seeing as I had left AW off the hook, our much loved press officer, Amanda, took the timely opportunity to whisk Wenger away. But at least it was more than we got from Fergie!

When I applied for a press pass, I was hoping that I might get an opportunity to have another pop at Fergie, like the last time I was admitted, a couple of seasons back when Ferguson had previously publically informed everyone that he had apologized to Arsene and when Wenger was asked about Fergie's apology, he said that it must be coming on horseback! When I asked Fergie if he'd spoken to Arsene prior to the match he snapped back "Why! Do you want to know what I said" . I replied "No I just wondered if you had an chance to apologize to him!"

Anyway after applying for my accreditation, I receive a phone call from Utd's extremely obliging press officer (mind you they all seem extremely obliging in comparison to any dealings I've had with this dept. at Highbury!) to inform me that Fergie had stopped attending post match press conferences since he took umbrage with the media during last season. It was as though the press officer imagined that there would be no point in me attending if I couldn't worship at the feet of their great man and she seemed somewhat surprised that I'd want to go to all that trouble just to listen to Arsene. Obviously I am very glad I went but in the light of what transpired, it was probably a result that Fergie wasn't going to turn up, because if he's repeated the rubbish he said on the box, there is little doubt that I would have ended up persona non grata with their press office for many seasons to come!