Arsene Wenger has escaped with a three-match touchline ban after Arsenal successfully fast-tracked his misconduct charge.
The FA on Friday confirmed that the Gunners boss will be forced to sit in the stands for Sunday's FA Cup-tie at Nottingham Forest, the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg versus Chelsea on Wednesday and next weekend’s Premier League game against Bournemouth. It is punishment for a foul-mouthed dressing-room tirade at referee Mike Dean after Sunday’s controversial draw at West Brom.
Wenger, who has also been fined £40,000, was furious that Dean awarded the Baggies a dubious last-minute penalty, ruling that Calum Chambers had handled in the box.
After his heated confrontation with Dean on the touchline, Sportsmail learned Wenger followed the match official down the tunnel and into the referees’ room where he launched into another furious diatribe at the official.
Managers are not permitted to enter the referees’ room until after a 30-minute ‘cool down’ period.
Wenger had until 6pm on Friday to respond to the charge but, as Sportsmail revealed on Friday, Arsenal were pushing for a speedy resolution to the decision over their manager’s punishment. The club were eager for any ban to start this weekend, including tomorrow’s FA Cup tie and Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash, and avoiding missing an extra Premier League game.
And despite a three-match suspension, there will be relief at the Emirates Stadium that Wenger wasn’t handed a lengthier ban.
There were legitimate fears that the Frenchman would face a longer ban given this is his second misconduct charge inside 12 months.
Wenger served a four-match touchline ban last January after he pushed fourth official Anthony Taylor during the Premier League clash against Burnley. The FA have deemed Wenger’s latest offence to be not as serious, hence the lesser punishment.
But there could be more trouble to come for Wenger as he has been asked to respond to the FA about comments he made about refereeing decisions both before and after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the league. He has until January 9 at 6pm to respond, though it is believed he could face no more than a fine.
Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed David Ospina will start in tomorrow’s clash at the City Ground and Wednesday’s clash against Chelsea.
Wenger will play an understrength team against Forest, saying: ‘Some players who played against Chelsea (last Wednesday) will play on Sunday.