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Is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere getting enough referee protection?


Talkers of today’s Arsenal-Manchester City contest (2-0 for City) included DOGSO, two-footed lunges and what we’ll call “protection.”

We addressed DOGSO already – in the wonkish parlance of the refereeing world, that’s “Denial of Goal Scoring Opportunity.”

On Vincent Kompany’s two-footed lunge, I generally say the same thing in these circumstances: we can have a legitimate debate about true red card-worthiness here, because the City center back did get the ball, and did not get much of Jack Wilshere’s shin. (In fact, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has already said he plans to appeal Kompany’s ejection.)

But the bottom line for me is that Kompany simply must be smarter there. Defenders who go in with both feet, cleats up, get little sympathy from me. Even the savviest, smoothest tackler cannot know how this is going to look to the man in the middle. We see this time and again, where a clean tackle really does look vicious, and all it takes to elicit ejection is an imperfect angle from the only set of eyes that matter.

In this case, referee Mike Dean was certainly going to level matters and 10 on 10 if there was any cause to do so. City was never going to get the benefit of the doubt, and Kompany should have known so.

It looked heavy and dangerous, so it just was not the smartest of actions.

Now … onto “protection.”

Gunners fans are wondering if Wilshere is getting enough of it? And they are right to do so. Consider:


The man was kicked and hacked mercilessly. Arsenal players, clearly frustrated, let Dean know how they felt, admonishing the veteran referee with a couple of serious hissy-fit temper tantrums (pictured, as Wilshere lays on the ground).

Meanwhile, Wilshere played it cool, proving something today, taking the punishment in midfield and returning for more. No that it surprises anyone.

Gunners teammates are surely a little more sensitive here, seeing as Wilshere only recently got back on the field after about 14 months away from the game. He’s a real talent, this 21-year-old England international – but he cannot take too many matches like Sunday’s.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia