Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger jokes: Arsenal's detractors 'would like to put me in jail'

Arsene Wenger has joked Arsenal's detractors "would like to put me in jail" in response to suggestions his four-match touchline ban for pushing a fourth official was too lenient.

Wenger watched from the stands as Arsenal swatted Southampton aside 5-0 at St Mary's on Saturday, marching untroubled into the FA Cup's fifth round.

The Arsenal boss was fined £25,000 and handed a four-game touchline ban for verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor during his side's frenzied 2-1 win over Burnley.

Wenger insists he accepted the charge purely in a bid to move forward, but still claimed that some will never be satisfied with punishments meted out to him and his club.

"Those who don't like me, any sentence will be too lenient," said Wenger.

"They would like to put me in jail somewhere without anything in the middle of winter - and that will still be lenient.

"My reaction (to the ban) is what I said after the game. Let's not bring this situation back again.

"I do not want to judge what the judge says. I got a sentence and I decided not to appeal just to get this behind me. There is no need for me to come back on that."

Danny Welbeck's first goals in eight months spearheaded Arsenal's cakewalk past Southampton, with Theo Walcott also grabbing a hat-trick.

Wenger hailed Welbeck as effectively a new signing, with the 26-year-old finally ready to end 20 months of knee injury problems.

"Yes it feels like I have many new strikers because I think (Lucas) Perez played very well as well and I left (Olivier) Giroud at home," said Wenger.

"The problem will now be to find the right combination which will use them well in games. The result is strong with the balance of the team.

"When you look around you on the bench and you have this sort of player (Welbeck) coming on or when he starts it is somebody else. He gives us more quality going forward.

"We look tonight and Perez and Walcott and Danny Welbeck and I have (Alexis) Sanchez on the bench, it is an exceptional quality. For a long time we did not have the offensive quality available."

Wenger hopes Welbeck's return will boost his options, even admitting Arsenal boast a deeper squad than Chelsea - but he also insisted the Blues do not need as many options to maintain their Premier League advantage.

"I would say we have a larger squad but Chelsea don't need too much because they don't play in Europe," said Wenger, with Arsenal trailing leaders Chelsea by eight points in the league.

"They are not in the Europa League or the Champions League. They will be in the Champions League next season and we have a larger squad."

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