Longest bans in EPL history… Suaréz is up there

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After Luis Suaréz was given a 10-game ban by the English FA today, many agreed with the FA’s decision to come down hard on the Liverpool forward.

The ban will see Suaréz out of action until next September and seriously hampers his future at Liverpool and in the EPL.

But where does this rank in the longest bans the FA and English Premier League have handed out, all-time? It is certainly not the most severe, but not by much.

Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable bans:

1. Eric Cantona – 9 month suspension
Manchester United’s French wonder lost the plot on a chilly evening at Selhurst Park back in 1995, as the Red Devils No. 7 was sent off against Crystal Palace. As he walked to the changing rooms, a Palace fan seemed to shout abuse at Cantona from the stands. Then all hell broke loose, as Cantona launched himself into the crowd and kicked the fan in a kung-fu style attack. The Frenchman was stripped of his national team captaincy and was banned from playing for United for nine months.

2. Rio Ferdinand – 8 month suspension

Another United player embroiled in a scandal, Rio Ferdinand missed a routine drugs test at the clubs Carrington Training ground back in 2003. Ferdinand was banned for eight months, as a missed test was treated with the same severity as testing positive. The defender would also miss England’s Euro 2004 campaign in Portugal after his bizarre oversight.

3. Joey Barton – 12 game ban

Joey Barton’s antics have been forgotten by some. In case you don’t remember, Barton went on a rampage during the final day of last season, as his QPR side faced Manchester City. But Barton’s red card and subsequent outburst helped City to defeat QPR and lift the EPL crown. Barton, like Suaréz, is certainly no stranger to trouble on the pitch and he was charged with two counts of violent conduct against City’s Argentinian duo of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. He has not played in the EPL since, after being loaned out to French side Marseille.

4. Paolo Di Canio – 11 game ban

Sunderland’s Italian manager is perhaps remembered by most fans of English soccer for pushing over referee Paul Alcock back in September 1998. Di Canio was sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal, as he reacted in disgust by pushing Alcock to the ground. It has to be said, the referee did make a meal of it, however the charge was enough to end Di Canio’s time at Wednesday, as he later moved on to West Ham United.

5. David Prutton – 10 game ban

One of the lesser known incidents, but almost identical to Di Canio’s. The only saving grace for Prutton was that referee Alan Wiley stayed on his feet, as the Southampton midfielder shoved the ref while trying to apprehend the linesman to protest his innocence. I remember sitting at St. Mary’s during that game, scratching my head as to why Prutton reacted in such a shambolic way.

Many people will be doing the same when they recall these moments of madness, along with the bite that could cost Suaréz his future in the EPL.

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.