Blackburn boss Hughes still angry over Arsenal sniping

Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes admits criticism from Arsenal's Arsene Wenger earlier this season still grates.

Arsenal turned on them after being held to a draw in August and Hughes remains angered by what was said.

"I thought it was out of order," he says as he reflected on the episode in his office at Blackburn's training ground.

"If Arsene Wenger was honest with himself I think he would agree it was a bit strong, because on the day we were good value for the draw.

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"The team are a reflection of the manager and I've always advocated good football. Unfortunately, we've had a couple of high-profile games that have tarnished us and we've found it difficult to get away from people's preconceived ideas."

He added: "We've had the problem with Arsenal and a game with Chelsea in Jose Mourinho's first year.

"They talked about the 'microclimate' and all that and accused us, wrongly, of watering the pitch too much.

"But it all perpetuates the myth and at times people assume they are going to be watching a certain type of football. This season I think we've surprised a few people."

Cesc Fabregas went too far, risking his life as well as his reputation by asking Hughes if he really had played for Barcelona after his side held Arsenal to a goalless draw in the FA Cup last season.

"He's a young man with fantastic ability and a winning mentality," says Hughes. 'But top players at top clubs don't suffer many setbacks, so when they do get a setback - like drawing at home to little old Blackburn - they don't always react the way they should.

"In fairness to him, he came and apologised. I kept him waiting a little bit longer than I could have, just to make my point.

"He had to wait 20 minutes in our dressing room - I was talking to the press - but he wanted to tell me to my face, so fair play to him.

"He's an outstanding player but I also have technically gifted players. Players like David Bentley, Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz. Players who can create in tight areas.

"But alongside that you have to be able to compete, which we can do. We're a strong, committed team, but more recently we've tried to give ourselves something different.

"Look at Christopher Samba. He has given us pace at the back."

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