Wenger throws weight behind troubled Vieira

London - Arsene Wenger has leapt to the defence of Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira after he was charged with misconduct by the English FA, British media reported on Tuesday.

Vieira's behaviour was called into question following the premier league club's 1-0 defeat by Leeds United on November 26.

"I cannot accept the FA's stance. We will ask for a personal hearing and we will defend Patrick vigorously," the Arsenal manager said.

The FA reached the decision after its Video Advisory Panel reviewed two incidents from the game in which seven Arsenal players, but not Vieira, were booked by referee Dermot Gallagher.

An FA statement said Vieira had been charged with misconduct on the recommendation of the three-man Video Advisory Panel, who studied the clashes involving the Frenchman and Leeds players Eirik Bakke and Olivier Dacourt.

The referee took no action over the two separate incidents and the statement noted that Gallagher had seen neither incident during the course of the game.

"I do not believe the Football Association has made the right decision," Wenger said.

"I am very surprised that they have said the referee saw neither incident as it is evident that he was well positioned in each case.

"I also note that the FA has acted on advice from the video panel and not the referee. I would be very interested to know what Dermot Gallagher's recommendations on the incidents are."

"They will have to charge many more players if they charge Patrick. I don't know who is making the decisions any more."

Wenger also said Liverpool striker Emile Heskey should be similarly charged with misconduct following his conduct against Charlton's Richard Rufus on Saturday.

"I thought the referee was spot-on, saw both incidents involving Patrick and chose not to do anything. Now it means to me that they (the FA) have to charge everybody," Wenger was quoted in the Daily Express.

"If you look at the incidents involving Heskey, the referee is also in a good position each time and it is exactly the same situation. As with Patrick they would be overruling the referee to charge the player."

Vieira served a five-match suspension after being dismissed in the opening two games of the season and faces another three-match ban if found guilty. He has been sent off six times in his Arsenal career.

The final decision on whether charges are laid will be down to FA chief executive Adam Crozier but Wenger was confident Vieira could cope with the pressure.

"People have talked before about whether he would finish with the English game because of these kind of problems but I have no fears about that.

"After he was suspended for a long time last season it is true he reacted negatively at first but in the end he was positive and just concentrated on getting back into the game," Wenger added.

Vieira has 14 days to respond to the charge. - Reuters

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