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19.12.2005 Football News

Arsenal targeted Essien -Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho has accused Arsenal's players of trying to get Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien sent off at Highbury.

The Ghana midfielder was booked in the first half of Chelsea's 2-0 win after a collision with Lauren.

The Cameroon international needed treatment after he was caught in the face by Essien's flailing arm.

But Mourinho claims the Gunners players tried to capitalise on Essien's growing reputation after picking up a two-match ban in the Champions League for a tackle on Liverpool player Dietmar Hamman.

Mourinho said: "The incident I saw was ten players jumping on him. It was like a strategy to use the image Essien has at the moment. What I saw was very, very sad, ten players jumping on one. He made his mistake and was punished for that and has a suspension for the Champions League.

"Now I think he deserves to be looked at as a great player and we need to be careful of other teams' reactions in relation to him."

The clash between Essien and Lauren happened in front of the managers' dugouts and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted the Chelsea player should have been sent off.

Wenger said: "Essien was a straight red in my opinion. It was just in front of the dugout and the referee was not brave enough to make the decision. He did not play the ball, he played the player."