Champions League

Wenger 'powerless' for French exam

Arsene Wenger is serving a three-match Chammpions League suspension.
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Arsene Wenger admits he will "feel powerless" watching Arsenal from the stands in Montpellier tonight - and maintains he still does not really understand why UEFA handed him a three-match suspension.

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Wenger was fined 40,000 Euros (£33,000) and banned after he confronted referee Damir Skomina in the wake of last season's Champions League defeat by AC Milan at Emirates Stadium.

That followed on from the Frenchman being sanctioned after his post-match outburst following defeat in Barcelona during March 2011, which saw him banished from the dugout for the crucial Champions League qualifier against Udinese last season - only to then communicate with the Arsenal bench, which again saw him
fall foul of Europe's governing body.

Wenger, though, sees no reason why it should impact on Arsenal's performance in France, where new assistant Steve Bould will take charge on the sidelines.

"I will feel powerless, but sometimes have that feeling on the bench anyway," said Wenger.

"We talk about all the possibilities before the game - if we defend or if we attack, if a player makes this run or that run - and go through all the solutions.

"An element of the unexpected can happen, but Steve has experience."

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The Arsenal manager maintains the guidance received by the governing body is far from clear.

"Honestly, nobody knows really - even at UEFA - what is allowed and not allowed,'' he said.

"When I ask: 'But what is it really about?' Nobody can tell me.

"I appealed. First, let's not forget, that I was suspended last year for having done what they told me I can do.

"When I went back there and said: 'Why do you want to punish me?'

"They said: 'because you communicated with your bench,' I said: 'but you allowed me to do it!'

"They said: 'We made a mistake, but we punish you anyway'".

Wenger continued: "Honestly many people in UEFA, including (UEFA president] Platini, said we should still let people work even if they are suspended.

"It's part of their job, and therefore a restriction of work, but I don't make a fuss of it. They love to suspend me."

Former Arsenal centre-back Bould, 59, has cut an impressive figure along side Wenger in the dugout after becoming assistant manager following Pat Rice's retirement.

Many have suggested the renowned former no-nonsense defender has had a major impact on the Gunners rearguard, which has conceded only one goal so far this season.

However, Wenger insists it is very much business as usual.

"We have not changed anything. I build the training sessions and it will remain like that," he said.

"I have been coaching for 30 years, so am not going to change things because Steve Bould arrived in August, but he does a great job."

Wenger added: "At the end of the day it's important that we have a style of play and people are convinced of that style of play, coaches and players.

"After that, everybody has his own personality and I have chosen Steve because I think he will add something to our team, but the basis on our work, that is well integrated by everybody at the club.

"That's why I choose as well people who have worked with us before and are convinced by what we do."

Montpellier may have faltered in the first few domestic games of the new campaign as defending champions, but Wenger maintains Arsenal will not going into tomorrow's match with one eye on Sunday's trip to Manchester City.

He said: "For this club, it is something exceptional, to play in the Champions League for the first time in their life.

"They wait for this game and maybe they missed a bit their championship because there is so much attention on this game."
 

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