Wenger’s foul-mouthed "f*** off" blast that landed him lengthy touchline ban

Arsene Wenger may be in the news these days for his controversial plans to revolutionise football, but he will always be known for his time in charge of Arsenal.

It is now three and a half years since the Frenchman stepped down as Gunners boss and his longevity in the role is shown by another passage of time.

Friday marked 25 years since he was appointed as Arsenal boss – and back then he was little-known in English football, having arrived from Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight to take over from Bruce Ricoh.

While over the following 22 years in charge of the north London club he would become known for his three Premier League titles – one of which came in the Invincible season of 2003/04 – seven FA Cup wins and softly-spoken philosophical outlook, Wenger also had another side.

Most of the memorable incidents involving Wenger’s angry and competitive side came in tussles with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. But not all.

Just ask Anthony Taylor and Jon Moss, the officials on the receiving end of the normally gentlemanlike Wenger’s abusive tirade on January 22, 2017.

The Emirates and a league match against Burnley provided the back-drop for the heated tempers. Arsenal were still in touch with Premier League leaders Chelsea and just about in with a shout of winning Wenger’s first title since the legendary season of 2003/04.

And for much of the afternoon things were going to plan. While Arsenal had an appeal for a penalty by a foul on Andre Gray on Shkodran Mustafi waved away in the first half, the disappointment didn’t last long.

Mustafi scored a header from Mesut Ozil’s corner and, for six minutes, things were on track. That was right up until Granit Xhaka had a brain fade.

The Arsenal midfielder was sent off – for the second time that season, by the same referee – for a two-footed lunge on Steven Defour in the 65th minute.

What is your favourite memory of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Have your say in the comments section below.

The Gunners held onto their lead right up until the 93rd minute when the veins in Wenger’s head started popping.

Moss awarded Burnley a penalty for Francis Coquellin’s challenge on Ashley Barnes and Gray stepped up to hit the spot-kick down the middle and, despite a hand from Petr Cech, it went in.

Cue Wenger’s meltdown. The Frenchman was seen remonstrating with fourth official Taylor at the awarding of the penalty. Once it had been scored, Moss came over to the touchline and sent Wenger off.

But the drama didn’t stop there. Wenger went as far as the Emirates’ tunnel before stopping. Taylor came over to ask him to move further and another incident occurred.

Eventually Wenger disappeared down the tunnel and then irony struck, with Moss awarding Arsenal a penalty in the 98th minute for Ben Mee’s high foot on Laurent Koscielny. Alexis Sanchez beat Tom Heaton with a Panenka penalty and the stadium erupted.

Arsenal had overtaken Liverpool and Tottenham to go second in the Premier League and to within eight points of Chelsea, with 16 games still remaining.

As is often his way, Sean Dyche used his post-match press duties to express his disappointment that Koscielny’s offside was not picked up, but that was small fry compared to Wenger’s misdemeanours.

With the three points in the bag and having had a chance to cool down, Wenger was full of contrition in the aftermath of the drama.

“I regret everything,” he said. “I should have shut up and gone home basically. And I apologise for that.”

Asked if he has spoken to the officials, Wenger answered: “Not yet because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad, I said something that you hear every day in football.

“Overall nine times out of 10 you are not sent to the stands for that but if I am, I am and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just in the last two or three minutes…”

Asked what had happened between himself and Taylor in the tunnel entrance, Wenger said: “I was sent to the stands. I didn’t know if I was sent to the stands, but I was sent out. I thought I could watch it from the corridor, you know.”

That apology was not going to cut it for Wenger, however. Six days later the Football Association released a disciplinary report, handing out a four-game touchline ban and a £25,000 fine to the Arsenal boss.

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Attached to the ruling was a statement from Taylor, who explained just what had been said on the touchline.

"Following the award of a penalty kick against his team in approx 92nd min, Mr Wenger left his technical area to confront me in disagreement at the decision,” Taylor said.

"Before he said anything I said 'think carefully before you say anything'. He responded by saying 'you are dishonest to your federation'. I considered this to be questioning both mine and the referee, Jon Moss’s integrity and impartiality.

"I stated to Mr. Wenger that such a comment was not acceptable and he told me to 'f*** off' on two separate occasions.

“Once Burnley had taken the penalty and before the game restarted I informed the referee, Jon Moss, what Mr Wenger had said and he subsequently dismissed Mr Wenger from the technical area.

"Initially Mr Wenger wanted to return to his technical area and I had to ask him again to leave the vicinity as required. He then chose to stand at the opening of the tunnel. I again approached him and asked him to go to the dressing room area.

"At this point Mr Wenger pushed me twice and I had to ask the security staff present to escort Mr Wenger to the dressing room area.

“At the conclusion of the match Mr Wenger visited the officials changing room and apologised to myself and Mr Moss for his earlier actions."

Wenger was forced to watch on from the stands for Arsenal’s FA Cup tie at Southampton the following day and the upcoming Premier League fixtures against Watford, Chelsea and Hull City.

While Arsenal did not miss him against Saints, producing a crushing 5-0 win, their would-be title challenge immediately took a nosedive.

Watford picked up a 2-1 win at the Emirates before Chelsea won 3-1 four days later to establish a 12-point gap at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal did finish the 2016/17 season with the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 win over Chelsea, but Wenger’s foul-mouthed outburst against Burnley ultimately marked the beginning of the end of their title hopes.

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