Essien told The People: “Last season referees did not respect me and I felt unfairly treated.
“My actions were looked at through a magnifying glass and I was little les than the criminal of the Premiership.
“This season I’m playing the same – when I must go in hard I do, but they now understand my style of play. If we get rid of tackling, it will not be football.
“Arsenal are the most difficult team we could have drawn but to lift the trophy you have to be able to beat anybody.”