Wednesday 22 November 2017

McLeish: Van the villain

Scot calls for action on Gunners hero as 'elbow' on Cuellar mars win

ASTON VILLA manager Alex McLeish called on the Football Association to take a look at a stray elbow from Arsenal captain Robin van Persie after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup at Emirates Stadium despite leading 2-0 at half-time.

Two Van Persie penalties either side of a fortuitous Theo Walcott goal helped the Gunners erase first-half goals from Richard Dunne and Darren Bent and set up a last-16 meeting with Sunderland or Middlesbrough, but McLeish was unhappy with another incident to do with Arsenal's top scorer.

He felt the Dutchman had caught defender Carlos Cuellar as they jumped for a high ball in the 64th minute. He said: "I thought it was a clear elbow, but the referee did not seem to think there was anything in it.

"Would I like the FA to look at it? Yes, if it was an elbow in the face - look at my nose, it is a result of elbows all my career. It is something which is dangerous.

"I never mentioned it to the referee. I saw it in real time.


"I don't like to point the finger at players, but it has happened to mine enough times."

Should it transpire referee Mike Jones witnessed the incident at the time, then no retrospective action can be taken by the disciplinary authorities.

McLeish believes his side had given themselves every chance of progressing before Arsenal mounted their fightback.

He said: "I am very disappointed we did not see it out and it is a missed opportunity.

"The fans will be gutted at seeing us let that lead slip away.

"We have to learn from this and try to obtain that winning mentality."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, praised the character of his side, who have lost three successive Premier League games to lose ground on the top four.

He said: "I was very impressed because I felt that when you come out of a bad period like we are, and you are 2-0 down, you can feel sorry for yourself or you can show you have the mental qualities to play for this club.

"I was very proud the team came out playing on all cylinders and showed they are not ready to lie down.

"Overall it was a classic FA Cup tie in England: 2-0 down and coming back, we had to fight to score three goals and we did it well."

Wenger had been given a rough ride by some home supporters following last weekend's 2-1 defeat by Manchester United.

They questioned his withdrawal of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the Frenchman was happier with how they reacted yesterday.


"I felt they were quite positive (on Sunday) compared to last time," he said.

"I am sad we cannot always keep them happy, the only thing we can do is show the spirit that we showed (against Villa).

"I just want to do well for this club that I love. I understand that people question my decisions, but I wouldn't understand if they questioned my commitment and my dedication.

"The rest I understand, that sometimes people are not happy with my decisions."

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