Wenger defends Eboue against 'cheat' charges

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Arsene Wenger was forced to defend midfielder Emmanuel Eboue after another cheating row brewed during Arsenal's Barclays Premier League victory Wigan.

Eboue was booked for deliberate handball when he got on the end of a cross midway through the first half in the 4-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, just a few weeks after Eduardo's diving saga erupted.

"Of course we want to stamp out cheating in the game," Wenger said. "It is not necessarily cheating sometimes, it (handball) can be a reflex as well. I do not encourage cheating and we all have to fight against it, but in this particular situation it can be a reflex as well."

This was a symbolic match for Eboue as he was jeered by his own supporters in the fixture last season. On this occasion he was cheered off when substituted in the 73rd minute, confirming his cult-hero status.

It was a typical performance from the Ivory Coast international as he was productive - he deflected Eduardo's shot in for the third goal - but raised eyebrows with his celebrations.

Thomas Vermaelen scored the first two goals - a header from a corner and a delightful curling effort. He now has four goals since arriving from Ajax.

Wenger joked: "Let's be honest for once. I thought he could adapt quickly but maybe not as quickly as that."

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was furious with his side's display after Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time.

"We were very poor in our performance," Martinez said. "That was not our style at all. We did not get anywhere near the Arsenal players in the first half.

"Our starting position was wrong and there was a lack of belief. We are not normally a defensive side, but we had a slow start and that was the reason for our performance. I cannot not take any positives from the performance - or the lack of it."

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Emmanuel Eboue
Premier League
Wigan Athletic

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