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Arsene Wenger dismisses Pep Guardiola’s ‘extra protection’ plea to referees

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said players do not need extra protection from referees after Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola called for renewed vigilance from officials.

Guardiola has been an unhappy figure on more than one occasion after his watching his players hit by a string of what he viewed as dangerous challenges in recent months.

Winger Leroy Sane suffered ankle ligament damage at Cardiff City last month after being fouled by Joe Bennett, while Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon was fortunate not to see a red card for a late tackle on Kevin De Bruyne in a league match in December.

But Wenger, whose Arsenal side face City in the League Cup final on Sunday, believes referees must simply stick to the rule book and make the right decisions.

“Extra protection? I don’t know what it means,” he told a news conference on Friday.

“(Pep) is maybe concerned by one or two situations where his players were tackled against Wigan (Athletic) on Monday night, which I can understand. But you don’t want extra protection, you want protection and that is just by the referee making the right decisions in the situations.”

After suffering a shock exit from the FA Cup by Wigan on Monday, runaway Premier League leaders City are hoping to lift their first silverware of the season this weekend.

Meanwhile, Wenger has never won the League Cup but can complete a full set of major domestic honours, adding to his three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup victories.

The Frenchman suffered defeats in the 2007 and 2011 finals but he is hoping it will be third time lucky this weekend.

“It’s a special day. No matter how many finals you’ve played in your life, it’s always a special day,” Wenger added.

“For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all our regular players. We want to win it, we want our fans to go home happy.”

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