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Wenger calls for stiff City punishment

ESPN staff
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Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are closer to the top three sides in the Premier League than many of their critics suggest © PA Photos
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged UEFA to come down hard on Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain after they were found to have broken Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

City and PSG are weighing up whether to fight sanctions from the European governing body after falling foul of the newly-introduced regulations, with Wenger hoping outside influences will not affect the punishments that are handed out.

"There are rules for Financial Fair Play," Wenger said. "If you don't respect them, you have to apply the rules, I don't know them especially."

Wenger suggested television rights agreements could be a factor in UEFA's decision making over punishments but hopes the end result would serve as a deterrent for the game's top clubs.

City and PSG may be forced to play Champions League matches next season with reduced squads - a punishment likely to be welcomed by Wenger.

He said: "One of the rules is that normally you should be banned for the excess of the financial amount that is not justified - if you are £100 million overboard, you should be punished for £100m of your wages bill in the Champions League.

"I want to see that respected. If that is not respected, then FFP will have problems in the future because everyone will just not consider it at all.

"When UEFA sells the rights of the Champions League to a French TV station, it is very difficult to explain to them once they have paid the money that the best club in their country will not play in the competition, so that might be one of the reasons behind that.

"I do not know how far it will go and how much it will be respected. If it is not respected, of course we will feel let down. It will be interesting to see."

Wenger has voiced his concern about the possibility of UEFA failing to bare its teeth over FFP and is keen for clubs such as big-spending City to have their wings clipped in order to contain the financial disparities in the Premier League and Europe.

How much of his view is motivated by his sense of fair play and how much by his desire to increase Arsenal's chances for success is open to discussion, but he insists his team are not as far away from a title challenge as some have said.

Victory against West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium in Arsenal's final home game of the campaign on Sunday will cement another fourth place finish and confirm a 17th successive season of Champions League qualification.

Heavy away defeats at City, Liverpool and Chelsea may have derailed Arsenal's title ambitions, but Wenger believes those setbacks could have been absorbed if they had converted home draws against City and Chelsea into victories.

"We had a good strong home record, but the restriction we had was in the big games we didn't win some of them," he said. "That's where the missing points are at the moment because we are very close to the top. Maybe one or two wins at home would have made that difference.

"[We played] in the Champions League against Bayern, we are in the final of the FA Cup playing many big teams, we are seven points off Liverpool who only played one competition, so we have been consistent. In the Premier League we missed some games and we pay for it now."

Wenger again claimed injuries to key players explain his side failed to sustain their title surge, with the return of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in recent weeks having a big impact on the team's performances.

"When you come out of Christmas, we were in a strong position and what you want then is to have your strong players available in March, April, February," he said. "We had too many injuries.

"It is very, very difficult - you can have one or two but after that when you have too many injuries you always have to play the same players and that is detrimental to the efficiency of the group. The regret we have is that too many players were out at the same time between Christmas and April."

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker insisted earlier this week that his team did not deserve a top three finish after their disappointing results against their title rivals and an honest Wenger accepted his observations had some merit.

"It is a fair comment because if we had just won one of these games, we would be in the top three," he said. "The regret we have of the season is that when I tell you we have been remarkably consistent, it is against the teams who did not fight for the Premier League title. Especially not away from home in some of the big games, we could not bring the points."

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