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STOP THE ROUGH STUFF REF.

Byline: Ed Casey

ARSENE WENGER has called on referee Chris Foy to stop tomorrow's clash with Blackburn turning into a rugby match.

The Gunners boss, who yesterday completed the signing of experienced French defender Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla, was scathing of Rovers after his side lost 2-1 at Ewood Park last May.

After that match Wenger blamed whist ler Mar t in Atkinson for not providing hi s team wit h adequate protection and insists the match officials must keep the players in check.

He said: "I believe every manger looks at his squad and tries to find a way where the game is most efficient and we developed one way.

"It is not the only way and I respect every other way as long as the referees get the rules respected.

"I saw some pictures last Sunday - you cannot say any more it is football, it is rugby on the goalkeepers more than football.

"The referees cannot go on and accept that.

"When you see how Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross kicked Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, how Robert Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football any more.

Safety "If the referees allow that you cannot accept it because it has nothing to do with the game.

"Apart from that, when a team play long ball, head the ball and become physical I accept and respect that completely.

"But it has to be in respect of the rules, that is all I'm saying."

Wenger maintains the referees must uphold their first duty, to ensure player safety.

The Ar sena l manager added: "I believe that in some situations the goalkeepers are not protected.

"You cannot have players whose main role is to stop the goalkeepers from catching the ball and not even go for the ball."

Squillaci is set to t rain with his new team-mates tomorrow but will not feature at Ewood Park.

However, recent signing Laurent Koscielny returns from suspension.

Wenger, who lost the services of William Gallas, Mi k a e l S i l v e s t r e , S o l Campbel l and Phi l ippe S e n d e r o s d u r i n g t h e summer, feels 30-year-old Fr a nc e i nt e r na t iona l Squillaci has all the qualities to fit right into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.

The boss said: "We needed a centre-back of quality and experience if possible, and at the right price - he was all of that.

Confidence "He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air and can score goals at set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game."

Arsenal have had two bids for Fulham and Australia keeper Ma rk Schwa r zer rejected.

And while Wenger refused to rule out bringing in any more players ahead of the transfer deadline, the Arsenal manager insisted no deals are imminent.

He said: "We are where we are - we have four great keepers and it is important we give confidence to them for the next game.

"I do not rule it out but at the moment I say I am not in a position to sign anybody. At the moment, it is all dead."

Wenger, though, indicated players could st i l l move overseas - with full-back Armand Traore looking set to leave for Benfica.

The boss said: "I believe the transfer window should have been over already for a long time, because it should stop when the championship starts for domestic transfers. Internationally it should go on until August 31 because not everybody starts at the same time."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 27, 2010
Words:624
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