Daily Archives: January 3, 2018

Arsene Wenger charged by FA over criticism of referees

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been charged by the FA for his attack on the standard of refereeing in the Premier League after a controversial penalty was awarded to West Bromwich Albion by match official Mike Dean in the closing minutes of the 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.

Wenger insisted in a pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal’s derby game against Chelsea that he wants to see referees take “sharp action” on the field instead.

“This is the 1950s, where the guy talks to him: ‘If you’re not nice, I might punish you.’ Come on, let’s not waste time,” he said on Tuesday.

“What does it help for the game? Nothing. Nothing happens. People want crisp, sharp action, and the referee has to make sure that that happens. They want to see: ‘Come on, let’s get on with it and play.’ That’s our responsibility. We don’t live in the dark ages.”

With just a minute left in the game against West Brom, Calum Chambers was harshly penalised for handball as Kieran Gibbs tried to lift the ball over the Arsenal defender, giving Jay Rodriguez the chance to equalise from the spot and prompting a furious reaction from Wenger.

It was alleged that his conduct in the match officials’ changing room at The Hawthorns was abusive and that he questioned the integrity of the referee.

“It wasn’t a penalty. There was no handball,” Wenger said after setting a Premier League record of 811 games in charge after the game. “It was not a deliberate handball. When you are as close as that, it’s impossible to play football. You go in the box, they just lift the ball to the arm of the player and it’s a penalty. He didn’t lift his hand. Where do you put your hands? You have no pockets in your shorts.”

“I’m angry because we have seen the same things again. I did fight very hard for the referees to become professional many years ago and they did a good job to allow them to be professional. But I see no improvement.”

“There are two countries in Europe where you have professional referees, in Italy and in England, and not one English referee will go to the World Cup. But everything is all right. We cannot say a word against it because they’re untouchable. That is the truth. It’s not only me that judges them.”

FC Barcelona to pay Liverpool at least £130m for Philippe Coutinho

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FC Barcelona could complete a long-proposed coup for Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho, although it will take the second highest transfer fee in history to move Liverpool.

The Reds rejected three bids from Barcelona in the summer — but despite the third being worth up to €130m and including €40m in potential add-ons, manager Jurgen Klopp and club officials stated that the 25-year-old was not for sale.

However, it was understood that the stance has since softened and Coutinho’s representatives have continued to explore the possibility of Liverpool sanctioning their client’s departure to the Camp Nou.

There was further speculation as Nike, Barcelona’s kit supplier and a Coutinho sponsor, incorrectly announced a deal had been done on Saturday but Liverpool are not taking legal action over the story and Klopp dismissed it at Burnley, claiming he could not be less interested.

Still, it remains that the Liverpool manager, who has been repeatedly questioned about Coutinho’s mooted departure in recent weeks, has been reluctant to state the Brazilian will remain at Anfield until the end of the season — unlike in the summer and perhaps wary of upsetting an in-form player.

Despite a foiled move in the summer, Coutinho, who also had a transfer request rejected and missed the first few games of the season with a back injury, kept his best form and scored 12 goals in 20 appearances as well as playing a significant role in their progress to the Champions League knockout stage.

This meant that Barca would have to bid around €50m more than they paid to make Ousmane Dembélé the second most expensive player in the world for Liverpool to contemplate a deal that could disrupt the second half of a promising season.

Coutinho missed the New Year’s Day Premier Leaguewin at Burnley owing to a minor thigh strain and is also doubtful for Friday’s FA Cup third-round home tie against Everton.

Liverpool Jon Flanagan pleads guilty to assault charge on girlfriend

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Liverpool FC defender Jon Flanagan has pleaded guilty in court to assaulting his girlfriend.

Flanagan, 25, appeared at the Liverpool magistrates court on Tuesday to answer accusations of beating Rachael Wall and was granted unconditional bail.

The defender was charged after an incident on Duke Street in Liverpool city centre at about 3.20am on 22 December, with case adjourned to 17 January when Flanagan will be sentenced.

The court heard he had been seen on CCTV assaulting his partner, who he has been in a relationship with for 18 months.

Lionel Greig, mitigating, said Wall had not provided a statement and there had been no previous instances of domestic violence in their relationship — and added that both parties were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

The district judge, Wendy Lloyd, said she had been given a breakdown of the CCTV, which showed Flanagan assaulting Wall on several occasions that night and kicking her at one point.

Lloyd told Flanagan he would face a community penalty. “I need to be reassured that these circumstances will never be repeated again,” she added.

Flanagan, who has one England cap, was a standby for England’s 2014 World Cup squad, but has only played once for Liverpool this season and spent last season on loan at Burnley after a 20-month injury lay off.