“It depends what you call clever and what you call dirty,” said Wenger, who was asked whether he felt Scholes tackled unfairly. “Unfairly, of course, unfairly,” he replied. “How many times have you watched Paul Scholes? Have you seen only fair tackles from Paul Scholes? I don’t want to come out on one specifically but I can remember a few. [They are] a bit in the past, yes, but look at him playing now. He still doesn’t hide. No, I don’t [think his approach is OK]. You ask me about the quality of the player – who wouldn’t like a Paul Scholes in his team? You ask me: ‘Was he a fair player?’ I say: ‘No, I’m sorry, for me he was not a fair player.’ I just think I respect him highly as a quality player. I did not like some things he did on the football pitch and I have the right to say that. It’s not because you are older, suddenly, that you are a saint.”

Wenger then attempted to praise our player but couldn’t do so without again questioning his character.

“Paul Scholes is still one of the greatest football players in England and his contribution to the success of Manchester United is absolutely huge,” he continued. “The regret I have personally is he was not always the fairest player. There’s a little bit of a darker side in him, sometimes, that I did not like.”

Scholes makes some crappy tackles, Scholes makes some great tackles, but this isn’t a question of ability. Wenger isn’t saying Scholes is poor tackler, he is saying that Scholes has a side of him which is intentionally dirty. Wenger talks of Scholes’ “approach to the game”, not his ability to tackle or not. To say his approach to the game is unfair, is dirty, and isn’t OK, is an accusation over how Scholes chooses to play. If there is a “darker side” to him, then that is again accuses Scholes of intentionally playing in a less favourable way.

We’ve highlighted a selection of United and Arsenal players’ disciplinary record, looking at fouls and yellow cards. In brackets is also their “dirty” ranking in comparison to all the other players in the league.

There are some United and Arsenal players who have been omitted because it seemed pointless including every single player. For example, Dimitar Berbatov in 09/10 committed 36 fouls or Arshavin with 38 fouls, but neither of these really seem relevant to the discussion of “dirty” players.

However, every season, the player with the most yellow cards and most fouls has been included.

The player who has committed the most fouls and most yellow cards has been included for each season, just for the sake of interest.

Fouls 2009/2010
Kevin Davies – 103 (1)
Alex Song – 54 (21)
Vassiriki Diaby – 49 (28)
Antonio Valencia – 41 (50)
Patrice Evra – 36 (68)
Darren Fletcher – 35 (75)
Cesc Fabreagas – 30 (109)
Paul Scholes – 30 (109)

Yellow cards 2009/2010
Fabrice Muamba – 11 (1)
Alex Song – 10 (2)
Kevin Davies – 9 (3)
Paul Scholes – 9 (3)
Cesc Fabregas – 5 (66)
Patrice Evra – 5 (66)
Darren Fletcher – 5 (66)
Antonio Valencia – 3 (131)
Vassiriki Diaby – 2 (197)

Valencia was United’s “dirtiest” player last season and on average received 1 yellow card per 14 fouls. Song and Diaby were Arsenal’s “dirtiest” players and received 1 yellow card per 5 fouls and 25 fouls respectively. Fabregas committed as many fouls as Scholes but the United man received more yellow cards, on average 1 per 3 fouls.

Fouls 2008/2009
Kevin Davies – 110 (1)
Neves Denilson – 57 (12)
Robin van Persie – 46 (23)
Alex Song – 44 (30)
Nemanja Vidic – 39 (51)
Cesc Fabregas – 33 (84)
Vassiriki Diaby – 31 (96)
Darren Fletcher – 28 (121)
Paul Scholes – 17 (211)

Yellow cards 2008/2009
Marouane Fellaini – 12 (1)
Wilson Palacios – 12 (1)
Wayne Rooney – 8 (12)
Gael Clichy – 7 (24)
Cesc Fabregas – 7 (24)
Patrce Evra – 6 (44)
Alex Song – 6 (44)
Vassiriki Diaby – 5 (65)
Nemanja Vidic – 5 (65)
Robin van Persie – 5 (65)
Kevin Davies – 4 (91)
Darren Fletcher – 4 (91)
Neves Denilson – 3 (131)
Paul Scholes – 3 (131)

Vidic was United’s “dirtiest” player and received an average of 1 yellow card per 8 fouls. Denilson was Arsenal’s “dirtiest” player and received an average of 1 yellow per 19 fouls. Scholes received an average of 1 yellow per 6 fouls, Fabregas with 1 per 5 fouls.

Fouls 2007/2008
John Carew – 93 (1)
Emmanuel Adebayor – 57 (15)
Mathieu Flamini – 56 (17)
Wes Brown – 47 (30)
Gael Clichy – 39 (52)
Patrice Evra – 36 (65)
Nemanja Vidic – 35 (73)
Paul Scholes – 31 (100)
Francesc Fabregas – 29 (114)

Yellow cards 2007/2008
Michael Brown – 11 (1)
Nicky Butt – 11 (1)
El-Hadji Diouf – 11 (1)
Cesc Fabregas – 9 (8)
Wes Brown – 8 (13)
Wayne Rooney – 8 (13)
Gael Clichy – 6 (33)
Mathieu Flamini – 5 (56)
Nemanja Vidic – 5 (56)
Patrice Evra – 4 (100)
Emmanuel Adebayor – 3 (139)
Paul Scholes – 3 (139)

Wes Brown was United’s “dirtiest” player and collected on average 1 yellow per 5 fouls. Adebayor was Arsenal’s and collected on average 1 yellow per 19 fouls. Scholes was given 1 yellow per 10 fouls, Fabregas 1 yellow per 3 fouls.

Fouls 2006-2007
Kevin Davies – 88 (1)
Wayne Rooney – 48 (33)
Cesc Fabregass- 45 (43)
Paul Scholes – 43 (48)
Nemanja Vidic – 36 (73)
Gilberto – 34 (83)
Gabriel Heinze – 28 (107)
Kolo Toure – 27 (119)

Yellow cards 2006-2007
Nigel Reo-Coker – 13 (1)
Jens Lehmann – 8 (17)
Robin van Persie – 8 (17)
Paul Scholes – 8 (17)
Cesc Fabregas – 7 (27)
Nemanja Vidic – 7 (27)
Wayne Rooney – 6 (40)
Kolo Toure – 6 (40)
Gabriel Heinze – 5 (60)
Patrice Evra – 4 (91)

Rooney was United’s “dirtiest” player and picked up 1 yellow per 8 fouls. Fabregas was Arsenal’s “dirtiest” player and picked up 1 yellow per 6 fouls. Scholes was United’s second “dirtiest” player and earned 1 yellow per 5 fouls.

Fouls 2005-2006
Kevin Davies – 108 (1)
Gilberto – 55 (24)
Wayne Rooney – 50 (33)
Alan Smith – 47 (39)
Cesc Fabregas – 44 (47)
Ruud van Nistelroy – 44 (47)
Jose Antonio Reyes – 41 (56)
Darren Fletcher – 32 (97)
Thierry Henry – 32 (97)
Lauren – 30 (113)
Gary Neville – 30 (113)
Paul Scholes – 25 (162)

Yellow cards 2005-2006
Phil Neville – 12 (1)
Wayne Rooney – 8 (15)
Lauren – 6 (38)
Cesc Fabregas – 5 (48)
Jose Antonio Reyes – 5 (48)
Gilberto – 5 (48)
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 5 (48)
Alan Smith – 4 (84)
Darren Fletcher – 3 (136)
Gary Neville – 3 (136)
Paul Scholes – 3 (136)
Thierry Henry – 2 (188)

Rooney was our “dirtiest” player and was given 1 yellow per 6 fouls. Gilberto was Arsenal’s “dirtiest” player and was given 1 yellow per 11 fouls. Scholes collected 1 yellow per 8 fouls.

Fouls 2004-2005
Kevin Davies – 95 (1)
Patrick Vieira – 89 (2)
Alan Smith – 45 (39)
Paul Scholes – 44 (43)
Gabriel Heinze – 38 (76)
Ashley Cole – 36 (84)
Kolou Toure – 35 (88)
Roy Keane – 34 (89)
Jose Antonio Reyes – 32 (107)
Dennis Bergkamp – 30 (119)
Francesc Fabregas – 28 (140)
John O’Shea – 28 (140)
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 25 (160)
Thierry Henry – 24 (169)

Yellow cards 2004-2005
Ray Parlour – 11 (1)
Patrick Vieira – 9 (4)
Roy Keane – 9 (4)
Ashley Cole – 7 (18)
Wayne Rooney – 7 (18)
Cesc Fabregas – 4 (67)
Gabriel Heinze – 4 (67)
Paul Scholes – 4 (67)
Jose Antonio Reyes – 3 (111)
Alan Smith – 3 (111)
Thierry Henry – 2 (175)
Dennis Bergkamp – 1 (240)

Patrick Vieira was Arsenal’s “dirtiest” player and collected 1 yellow per 10 fouls. Alan Smith was United’s “dirtiest” player and collected 1 yellow per 15 fouls. Scholes picked up 1 yellow per 11 fouls. Dennis Bergkamp on average picked up 1 yellow per 30 fouls.

Fouls 2003-2004
Patrick Vieira – 93 (1)
Phil Neville – 51 (23)
Gilberto – 50 (27)
Sol Campbell – 43 (45)
Ray Parlous – 43 (45)
Mikael Silvestre – 41 (53)
Theirry Henry – 36 (83)
Kolo Toure – 36 (83)
Paul Scholes – 31 (111)

Yellow cards 2003-2004
Paul Ince – 14 (1)
Patrick Vieira – 10 (4)
Ray Parlour – 7 (25)
Ashley Cole – 5 (58)
P Neville – 5 (58)
G Neville – 5 (58)
Lauren – 5 (58)
Paul Scholes – 5 (58)

Fouls 2002-2003
Garry Flitcroft – 83 (1)
Thierry Henry – 54 (20)
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 50 (27)
Gilberto – 47 (35)
Patrick Vieira – 45 (39)
Ray Parlous – 42 (51)
Paul Scholes – 39 (63

Yellow cards 2002-2003
Ivan Campo – 13 (1)
Thierry Henry – 8 (16)
Phil Neville – 7 (20)
Martin Keown – 6 (33)
Patrick Vieira – 6 (33)
Lauren – 6 (33)
David Beckham – 5 (61)
Ashley Cole – 5 (61)
Roy Keane – 4 (87)
Paul Scholes – 4 (87)

Fouls 2001-2002
Patrick Vieira – 86 (1)
Ray Parlour – 50 (26)
Lauren – 42 (50)
Nicky Butt – 39 (65)
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 38 (71)
Dennis Bergkamp – 37 (78)
Paul Scholes – 33 (108)

Yellow cards 2001-2002
Robbie Savage – 14 (1)
Patrick Vieira – 11 (2)
Paul Scholes – 9 (5)
Lauren – 8 (12)
Ray Parlous – 7 (27)

Fouls 2000-2001
Olivier Dacourt – 84 (1)
Patrick Vieira – 65 (12)
Nicky Butt – 51 (23)
Paul Scholes – 43 (44)

Yellow cards 2000-2001
Olivier Dacourt – 13 (1)
Nicky Butt – 8 (20)
Patrick Vieira – 6 (48)
Tony Adams – 6 (48)
Wes Brown – 5 (66)
Paul Scholes – 3 (137)

Paul Scholes isn’t the dirty player Arsene Wenger makes him out to be. Given this is the manager who is quick to accuse others of making nasty fouls, even intentionally going out to hurt his players, only to “not see” his own players guilty of the same.

“There was a bit of an over-reaction with the way it was treated,” he said of what Owen Coyle described as the ‘assault’ of William Gallas on Bolton’s Mark Davies. “If it is a bad, malicious tackle I can understand that it is shown every half an hour, but the way that happened, it can happen every game.”

Wenger was asked the question and I don’t expect him to say “no comment” but you would expect him to be a bit more dignified and respectful. Agreed, Scholes is one of the best midfielders in the country, but trying to drag his name threw the mud and bring him down a peg or two by referring to a non-existent “dark side” is fairly insulting. Cesc Fabregas has a worse disciplinary record than Scholesy, does that make him a dirty player too? Did Wenger say that former captain Patrick Vieira’s approach to the game wasn’t OK or wasn’t fair? Course not.

So, if Scholes has such a dirty side, why do so many his central midfield opponents speak so highly of him? If his approach to football was unfair, then surely those who have played against him would know all about it, right? After all, they would be the ones on the end of his dirty tackles.

Zinedine Zidane – “He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get. One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career.”

Patrick Vieira – “The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.”

Tony Adams – “I really rate Paul Scholes, because he hasn’t got the high profile of many of the Manchester United players, he doesn’t get too much attention, but he is one very good player. He is an intelligent player, he works hard and he scores some great goals. He is not flamboyant and is a quiet lad off the pitch but he is a tremendous asset to Manchester United and to England. He has already got my vote as player of the year.”

Cesc Fabregas – “He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.”

Thierry Henry – “I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.”

Edgar Davids – “I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is.”

Alan Shearer – “If you ask footballers to pick out the player they most admire, so many of them will pick Paul Scholes. He can tackle, and his passing and shooting is of the highest level. He’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time.”

Eidur Gudjohnsen – “I’m more an admirer of Paul Scholes than I am of Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but he has 10 other great players around him every week…Scholes is one of the most complete footballers I’ve ever seen. His one-touch play is phenomenal. Whenever I have played against him, I never felt I could get close to him.”

Oddly, not a single one of the players has a bad word to say about Scholes. No mention of his dark side, his dirtiness or his unfair approach to the game.

I guess it’s too much to ask for Wenger to show the same class.