Nicolas Anelka will miss at least five matches for West Bromwich Albion unless he comes up with a strong defense for his ‘quenelle’ salute, as the French striker was officially charged by the FA on Monday.
Facing a controversy notable not merely for the gesture’s racist connotations but also the way both West Brom and the FA have handled it, Anelka has until Thursday to respond to the charge.
The fallout has been widespread, and team shirt sponsor Zoopla has announced they’ll step away from doing business with the team at the end of the year. Meanwhile, everyone from anti-racist organizations to West Brom board members themselves are speaking out on the issue.
The FA called the quenelle “an aggravated breach in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
Groups like Kick It Out have taken shots at the FA for their speed in addressing the issue, while at least one has supported them in indicating trust that they’ll properly take care of the issue.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports has this in-house quote from The Hawthorns:
Alan Cleverley, secretary of the West Bromwich Albion Official Supporters’ Club, said if Anelka is found guilty by the FA, he “deserves everything he gets”.
He added: “You can’t go on doing that. It sounds as if he did it on purpose because he knew the match was being shown live in France. So if the book gets thrown at him, I’ve got no sympathy whatsoever for him.”
Anelka played in the Baggies 1-1 draw versus Everton on Monday (pictured above). West Brom’s next five matches are away to Aston Villa, home to Liverpool, away to Crystal Palace and then home to Chelsea and Fulham.
Barcelona has their eyes set on a new Andres Iniesta.
Sure, projecting anyone to meet Ballon d’Or finalist standards is silly, but news that Barca has had multiple meetings with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti does inspire comparison hunting.
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An influential and creative central midfielder, the 24-year-old Verratti is 8.5 years younger than Iniesta and wowed Barca in the first leg of PSG’s ill-fated UEFA Champions League tie with the Catalans.
Mundo Deportivo, amongst others, reports that Verratti feels life at PSG has gotten stale and that Barca is one of the few clubs that represents a significant jump up in class. He’s also been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past few transfer windows.
Verratti has a contract through 2020-21, so any purchase will not be cheap considering PSG’s desire to continue growing its status as a UCL contender. The Italian is 21 times capped by the Azzurri.
Liverpool announced a new contract for Dejan Lovren on Friday, complete with the requisite “I love my club” comments from the defender.
Then Jurgen Klopp got his hands on a microphone.
The outspoken manager explained that re-signing Lovren to a new “long-term” deal ensures that the Croatian spends the best years of his career with the Reds.
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He also spoke plainly about Lovren’s perceived struggles and successes since arriving at Anfield from Southampton in 2014.
From The Liverpool Echo:
“If Dejan played for another club you would want to sign him – and pay a lot of money. He is 27, the best time is still to come.”
“If you’d asked fans after the Dortmund game they would said give him a 20-year contract. After the Palace game fans would have said ‘can we find another team who will have him?’ Truth is somewhere in between.”
Turning to Monday’s trip to Watford, Klopp isn’t concerned about the chance that his Reds will open the day outside the Top Four if Man City and Manchester United both win at the weekend.
He also says the Reds could have Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge at Vicarge Road, though Jordan Henderson remains out.
- Sunderland won 2-1 on Nov. 5
- Fourth meeting since 1990
- Sunderland leads all-time 5W-3D-1L
Sunderland looks to keep its faint hopes of Premier League safety alive by managing a season sweep of Bournemouth when the two sides meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Black Cats are a mess, having lost to Tees-Wear Derby rivals Middlesbrough on Wednesday and living 12 points back of 17th place Swansea City.
Bournemouth battered Middlesbrough 4-0 last weekend to move seven points clear of the drop zone, and can finish the day in the top half with a win up north.
What they’re saying
Sunderland boss David Moyes on calls for him to quit: “I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose. There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”
Bournemouth captain Simon Francis on Sunderland’s woes: “It just show how things can happen when clubs are not run properly. If we do lose Sunderland from the Premier League it will be a real shame. They are an enormous club and playing at grounds like theirs is the pinnacle of anyone’s career.”
The Black Cats haven’t quit, but manage two fewer points than they need, all but heading for the Championship after a 2-2 draw.
- Hull won 2-1 on Nov. 6
- Tigers two points clear of drop zone
- Saints lead all-time 23W-20D-15L
After back-to-back losses to Man City and Chelsea, Saints meet a different kind of desperation when Hull City arrives at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
With a win, Hull can move five points clear of the final relegation spot and heap pressure on Swansea City, who plays Sunday. With a loss, Marco Silva’s men open the 17th place door for Swans.
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Since the start of the 2011-12 season in the Championship, Southampton has won six of seven matches against Hull. That seventh, however, was the match at the KCOM Stadium earlier this season, one that saw now-West Ham man Robert Snodgrass spur a Tigers comeback.
Saints open the day four points back of eighth place West Brom, and also hold a match-in-hand on the Baggies.
What they’re saying
Saints boss Claude Puel on slump busting: “After two losses it’s important to move forward now and take points on Saturday in front of our own fans. We have to improve in the right areas and find a good balance of play, but also a good clinical edge in both penalty areas.”
Marco Silva on Hull’s away troubles: ““We have conceded goals on the counter-attack away from home in games when the result has been looking good for us – we cannot make it possible for our opponents to do this to us. The second goal we conceded at Stoke is an example of this – conceded at a time when we were in control of the game. Details like this are making the difference and these are things we must look to change. This is clear to me and I pass this on to my players.”
Saints have more quality than Hull, but may not have as much fire in the belly. Still, home field means a lot here and Southampton should reverse the score line from November’s tilt. 2-1, with Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic leading the way.