Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger faces being slapped with an extensive touchline ban by The Football Association after a series of incidents overshadowed the last gasp 2-1 win over Burnley in the Premier League. Alexis Sanchez netted a penalty in the eighth minute of added-on time to move the 10-man Gunners into second, eight points behind leaders Chelsea – but it was events off the field which dominated the fall-out from the dramatic game at The Emirates Stadium.
The 67-year-old was initially sent from the dugout after questioning referee Jon Moss' decision to award the Clarets a stoppage-time spot kick after Francis Coquelin tripped Ashley Barnes. Andre Gray converted to seemingly assure the visitors a point, while Wenger attempted to watch the game from the tunnel when he appeared to push fourth official Anthony Taylor.
While the Arsenal boss has been charged with misconduct by The FA for laying a hand on a match official, as well as an allegation of improper conduct for his criticism of Moss. The Evening Standard understand the French boss branded Moss a "cheat" before withdrawing himself from the field of play and watching on television as Sanchez struck late on.
Alan Pardew was given a two-game touchline ban and fined £20,000 in 2012 after he shoved linesman Peter Kirkup during a Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur, and Wenger can expect a similar punishment. Furthermore, the questioning of Moss' integrity will likely see that penalty extended to at least three games – similar to Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho who was given a one-game ban after being sent to the stands by the same official in November. Additionally, in September 2013, Ian Holloway was given a two-game touchline ban for accusing an official of bias while manager of Crystal Palace.
Wenger therefore faces being forced to watch Arsenal's FA Cup fourth round tie at Southampton, the Premier League visit of Watford and summit meeting with Chelsea away from the comfort of the dugout and will be prohibited from making direct contact with his team during each match. If the ban is further extended, Wenger could also be absent for Hull City's trip to north London on 11 February.
After his side claimed the late win which keeps alive their hopes of winning the Premier League title, Wenger apologised for his actions and regretted his behaviour during added-on time. "I didn't know if I was sent to the stands but I was sent out," he said, according to the official Arsenal website. "I thought I could watch it from the corridor, you know. I went inside and watched it on television. I regret everything. I should have shut up, gone in and gone home, basically. I apologise for that.
"Not yet [had the chance to speak with the officials], because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football, but overall nine times out of 10, you're 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 [not] in the last two or three minutes."
If Wenger is banned as expected, it potentially leaves Arsenal without four key individuals for the visit to Stamford Bridge to face leaders Chelsea at the start of February. Granit Xhaka's second domestic red card of the season will ensure he misses the next four games, while club captain Per Mertesacker and playmaker Santi Cazorla are expected to remain out injured. Theo Walcott and Mathieu Debuchy however should return from calf and hamstring injuries.