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Wenger defends Xhaka over airport abuse claim


London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has defended Granit Xhaka after the Arsenal midfielder was spoken to by police over an allegation of racial abuse just days after being sent off for the second time this season.

Xhaka will serve a four-match ban after being dismissed during Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Burnley last Sunday following a needless and reckless challenge by the Swiss international.

To make matters worse, the former Borussia Monchengladbach star, who has nine red cards for club and country since 2014, found himself embroiled in a race row at Heathrow Airport on Monday. 

The 24-year-old was spoken to by police after arguing with a British Airways employee when his friend was told he had missed the deadline for checking in for a flight.

But Wenger on Thursday said Xhaka denies any wrongdoing.

Xhaka was not arrested and visited a local police station after the alleged incident was reported.

Wenger is adamant Xhaka had not let Arsenal down, either over the abuse allegations or his red card.

“There are two incidents which have been talked about,” Wenger said.

“One is the sending-off. I felt that the sending-off was harsh when I watched it again. It was not a dangerous tackle, it was a clumsy tackle.

“You have to accept that he can be punished for these kinds of tackles now. He has to learn from that. I don’t think he wanted to injure anybody.

“He has to learn from it. Unfortunately we will lose him for four games in a very important period of the season.

“The other incident, at Heathrow, he denies completely. I have talked with him about it and he completely denies what happened there.

“I can only talk about him on what I’ve seen since the start. He’s had a fantastic attitude since he arrived here on a daily basis.

“Sometimes you don’t know how the players will behave on a daily basis but I must say that he has been absolutely marvellous to handle with his commitment, focus, dedication and I’ve never heard anything bad said about him.”

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