Football

Arsenal boss plays down Gallas tackle

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Arsene Wenger hailed the mental strength of his Arsenal side after they went top of the Barclays Premier League with a 4-2 win over Bolton at Emirates Stadium - but moved to diffuse a row over William Gallas' controversial tackle which left Mark Davies with a suspected broken ankle.

Owen Coyle's men - beaten 2-0 by the Gunners on Sunday - took a shock lead after seven minutes through Gary Cahill, and Matthew Taylor then doubled the advantage from the penalty spot. However goals from Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrey Arshavin took the Gunners above Chelsea on goals scored, albeit having now played a match more.

"Chelsea have a game in hand, but it is good. We had two difficult games against Bolton with a new manager, two cup games almost, and our mental and physical strength was tested again. We are certainly much more physically resistant," said Wenger.

"You cannot find a team better than Bolton in doing what they did - they marked us man to man, didn't give us an inch of space. Physically, you are never better tested than against Bolton."

In the build-up to Arsenal's equaliser, Gallas appeared to catch Davies on the ankle as the pair went for a 50/50 ball, but play was allowed to continue despite the Bolton protests as their man lay on the ground.

Arshavin battled to the edge of the area, where possession broke to Fabregas and he charged into the box before slipping a low angled drive through the keeper's legs.

There was a delay as Davies finally received treatment, and eventually had to be taken off on a stretcher, replaced by Gavin McCann. The midfielder will have X-rays to determine the extent of the damage.

Wenger said: "I am sorry if the tackle was not good, and I apologise. However, to complain that we went on to play, I think that is unfair.

"The players did not even know what was happening behind them, whether the player has got up again or not.

"I don't believe you can kick the ball out every time a player is down when you win the ball. That is why they changed the rules. Remember Everton: I did not think they should have kicked the ball out, and it was a much more obvious situation. I said it was okay and they might have gone 3-1 up."

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Premier League
William Gallas

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