ROBERTO Martinez has laughed off suggestions Wigan Athletic side are a team full of hatchet men.
Chelsea new-boy Eden Hazard complained of being kicked during his side’s 2-0 victory at the DW on Sunday.
The Belgian was instrumental in both Chelsea goals, but paid the penalty when Gary Caldwell clattered him shortly after.
Hazard failed to last the 90 minutes, with Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo taking him off in the second half to protect his major summer investment.
But Martinez denied his side had overstepped the mark.
“I’m sure that in six or seven months’ time he won’t be coming out with this sort of thing,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“The physicality of the Premier League is probably the thing that separates it from every other league in European football.
“It’s a noble league and an honest league, but you have to remember football is a contact sport and to play in this league you have to get used to that.”
Latics conceded more free-kicks – 485 – than any other Premier League team last term.
But the Spaniard insists that statistic paints a completely false picture of his players.
“Sometimes you have to take risks and play the game on the front foot,” he explained.
“When you want to take control of the game like we do, sometimes you have to leave yourselves one-against-one at the back, and that sometimes leads to fouls being committed.
“I certainly don’t think it is a meaningful stat in terms of other stats – we are just not that kind of team.
“Stats are stats, but sometimes you have to read in between the lines a little.”
Hazard, who played in Branislav Ivanovic for Chelsea’s first goal before being fouled inside the area by Ivan Ramis for number two, had moaned his treatment at the DW was similar to what he’d previously experienced in France.
“I was kicked quite a bit in the first half against Wigan, but in France it was already like that for me,” he said.
“I wasn’t aware I was the most fouled player in the match, I wasn’t counting them.
“At the start of the game, you could see the way I play and the most important thing is I’m not injured.”
Martinez, meanwhile, is hoping to have Jean Beausejour, Shaun Maloney and James McArthur available for Saturday’s trip to Southampton.
Beausejour missed the Chelsea game with a hamstring injury but is responding well to treatment, while Maloney (dead leg) and McArthur (back) are also expected to make it after being substituted at the weekend.
“Shaun’s problem is only a knock, it’s not serious, and as long as we treat it well over the next 48 hours he should be okay for Southampton,” Martinez added.
“James was starting to feel his back that has given him a problem in pre-season, but he did so well to last over an hour.
“We never expected him to last that long, but it shows once again his character and what a strong-minded boy he is.
“Jean picked up a hamstring injury late last week which ruled him out for Chelsea, but hopefully he’ll be back for Southampton.”