Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has accused Stoke City players Rory Delap and Ryan Shawcross of deliberately injuring Gunners duo Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor in the 2-1 Premier League defeat at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
Both Walcott and Togolese International Adebayor are now ruled out of the Champions League clash with Fenerbahce on Wednesday at the Emirates, although England International Walcott, is expected to be fit in time to face Premiership Champions Manchester United at the weekend.
Wenger has also defended criticism that the North London club were not brave enough against the Potters, with the Frenchman insisting that the brave are the ones that play the football.
“I read that my team were not brave,” Wenger said.
“All I can say is they are brave and, for me, you need to have more courage to play football when you know that someone is tackling you from behind without any intention to play the ball.
“The only intention is to hurt you and I can show some tackles where I can prove what I say. The one who is tackling is not the brave one. For me the brave one is the player who is trying to play football.
“It happened at the weekend. Do you think Delap tried to play the ball when he tackled Walcott? Or that Shawcross tried to play the ball when he tackled Adebayor off the pitch. All the players have been injured deliberately.
“I am not ready to listen to things that are completely untrue and make people who are cowards, for me, look brave.”
The Emirates chief has also claimed that there is a history of Arsenal players being injured deliberately, with Croatian International Eduardo’s broken leg suffered against Birmingham City the most high profile example.
Wenger added: “Do you want me to tell you the players we have lost here? Diaby, deliberate foul from behind, Rosicky, deliberate foul, Eduardo, deliberate foul. Now we lose Walcott, deliberate foul, and we have lost Sagna - deliberate foul on him.
“There is only one intention when he is tackled and that is the ankle. And you want me on top of that to sit here and say, 'Yes, sorry we are not brave'?”
However, despite the loss to Stoke and the 4-4 draw in the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur in the match before leaving Arsenal six points behind Chelsea and Liverpool. Wenger is still confident that his young Gunners side have enough time and quality to claw it back.
“We lost a game but we are six points behind the leaders, it is the start of November and we have plenty of quality to get it back. The same people who say we are not good, let them say it in three weeks when we are the best,” Wenger declared.