Following his first two Premier League goals since 2011, West Bromwich Albion striker Nicholas Anelka should have been celebrating a good day at the office following his sides 3-3 draw at West Ham on Saturday.
However now he’s having to defend himself, as controversy hangs over the Frenchman following what looked like a ‘quenelle’ salute, made famous by French comedian Dieudonne and linked to anti-Semitism.
After the match, the Baggies caretaker manager Keith Downing said the striker was merely paying homage to his friend and the gesture wasn’t anything but a tribute to Dieudonne.
“I’m aware of it but it has got nothing to do what is being said,” Downing said when asked about the incident. “It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.”
Downing also revealed that Anelka has been taken back by the reaction to his gesture.
“He [ Anelka] is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it.”
Following a huge number of complaints the English Football Association is investigating the gesture by Anelka and French sport Minister Valerie Fourneyron criticized the 34-year-old for his actions. While anti-discrimination body, Kick It Out, is in contact with their partners in England and France over the incident and offered support to the FA in its inquiries.
Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.
The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).
Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.
Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.
On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).
Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.
The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.
“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.
“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”
Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.