Wenger: Please respect Shawcross

Published Dec. 16, 2010 4:18 p.m. ET

Arsene Wenger has called for all Arsenal fans to respect Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross in Saturday's Premier League clash at the Emirates.

Shawcross is set to face the Gunners for the first time since his challenge resulted in young midfielder Aaron Ramsey suffering a double leg fracture during the Premier League game at the Britannia Stadium in February.

Ramsey has now recovered full fitness and is currently on loan at npower Championship side Nottingham Forest.

Shawcross, though, can still expect a rough reception from the home supporters - although Potters boss Tony Pulis today laughed off suggestions the player will be provided with his own personal security into and out of the ground.

In the immediate aftermath of the match at the Britannia Stadium, Wenger labelled Shawcross' challenge as "horrendous" and highlighted similar incidents against his players, Abou Diaby and Eduardo.

However, the Gunners boss insists with Ramsey now on the road back to full fitness, it is time to draw a line under the saga.

Asked whether Shawcross would need extra protection at the weekend, Wenger said: "I can reassure you that will not be needed.


"What happened in the past, happened in the past.

"We have come out on that - I don't think there is any need to add any fuel on it and just focus on playing football as we always do and respecting our opponents.

"What is important is we want to see a football game where both teams play good football.

"It is Arsenal against Stoke. Every game is different and it is a new start.

"We do not have any preconceived ideas before the game happens on any individual.

"We want to win the game, focus on it and respect our opponent as we always do."

England Under-21 international Shawcross, who was called up for the senior squad against Egypt in March, was distraught following the incident, and has sent messages of support to Ramsey.

Wenger reflected: "It is only Ramsey who can forgive Ryan Shawcross for what happened to him. I cannot forgive. I have not that power.

"If you were the manager of Aaron Ramsey, who is 18 and has two bones broken in his leg, you cannot say you are not upset, it absolutely normal you are upset.

"I gave my feelings at the moment, what we were focused on after that was to get Ramsey back to playing again, what he is just starting to do now.

"We care about Aaron Ramsey and his career. We did not focus on Shawcross, that is why I don't feel there is any need to talk about that."

Arsenal were beaten 1-0 at Manchester United on Monday night, but could return to the top of the table with victory against Stoke as all their other title rivals are not in action until later over the weekend.

Wojciech Szczesny could continue in goal if Lukasz Fabianski fails to recover from a hip injury, with Manuel Almunia facing another three weeks out because of an ankle problem.

However, Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is likely to miss the game as he is set to become a father for the first time.

Captain Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie are all in contention to start after coming off the bench at Old Trafford.

Wenger said: "They are close - not completely yet 100%, but we have some players who have played many games so I may consider to rotate a little bit."