Arsenal fans look at a statue of former striker Dennis Bergkamp after it was unveiled before their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland in London

Wenger hails Rosicky as Bergkamp after win, as Dutch legend’s statue unveiled at the Emirates

1 Comment

Arsenal gave its latest tribute to a Gunners legend with the unveiling of a Dennis Bergkamp statue before Saturday’s 4-1 win over Sunderland, and Arsene Wenger paid Tomas Rosicky a lofty compliment after his big performance in the win.

”Rosicky took the role of Bergkamp today,” said the Arsenal manager.

The 33-year-old Czech midfielder scored a goal before halftime, making a 1-2 passing play off a Sunderland defender, and earlier provided a major part of the build-up along with Lukas Podolski before Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud combined to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.

“Rosicky’s goal is one of the best. It’s how we want to play and, when it’s successful, you’re happy,” Wenger said after the match.

The match was one of smooth sailing for the Gunners who held 65 possession, won the corner battle 7-3 and put nine shots on target to Sunderland’s three.

It was also a strong return for Olivier Giroud, who scored a brace after a week of rumors of infidelity to both his wife and team (not that the two should be equated).

“I had no hesitation about his strength of character,” Wenger said of his French striker. “He did well.”

Wenger was also asked to reflect on Bergkamp’s contributions to the London club.

“He changed the destiny of the club as he was the first big star to arrive here,” Wenger said. “Everyone admired Dennis in our team, everyone speaks about his class. He was also loyal to this club.”

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
Leave a comment

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
1 Comment

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