OWEN Coyle has disputed Arsene Wenger’s claim that Arsenal are targeted by opposing Premier League teams.

Aaron Ramsey became the latest Gunners star to suffer a potentially career-threatening injury when he broke his leg following a heavy challenge from Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross on Saturday.

It follows similar injuries to Abou Diaby and Eduardo in recent seasons, and prompted an angry response from the Frenchman — who maintained that it was no coincidence that three of his players had been put out of action in such quick succession.

But Coyle refuses to believe that the Gunners are given any special treatment.

“They are special players, no doubt about that, but there is no way in the world that anyone would go out to intentionally hurt or maim any player,” he said.

“The lad Ramsey is a terrific talent and is going to be a top player but there’s no way that was intentional to hurt or malign him.

“If you’re not motivated to go out there and be aggressive to begin with, to earn the right to play, then you’re going to be run over the top of and made to look foolish.

“We all take pride in trying to make our players competitive, to go and earn the right, as we say in football, but there’s no way you’d say ‘go and smash this and that’.

“The best example was when I was at Burnley and we played Arsenal, drawing one each at Turf Moor. That was a footballing performance, so it shows that if you believe in what you are doing, then you can go and get points from the top teams.”

The boot was on the other foot in January when Coyle was left seething over a tackle by William Gallas on Whites’ youngster Mark Davies that put him out of action for 10 days.

But the Wanderers boss admits that, on reflection, he changed his opinion of the incident and reckons Wenger might also see things differently given the benefit of some cooling-down time.

“I was angry and disappointed at the time a couple of weeks ago with William Gallas, and your emotions do take over,” he said of the challenge at the Emirates Stadium.

“I felt it was a poor challenge but with hindsight I don’t think William Gallas intended to hurt Mark, to do damage.

“It was badly timed, just like the other day. The boy Shawcross took a bad touch and I’m not even sure if he knew Ramsey was there.

“It’s horrible when any young player gets an injury but it’s wrong when people start posting blame and saying that they meant it.”