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Arsene Wenger handed touchline ban after pushing official

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Arsenal will be without manager Arsene Wenger for their next four games.

[ MORE: Mourinho’s alternative facts ]

Wenger, 67, was handed a misconduct charge by the FA after being sent to the stands for using abusive language towards officials in stoppage time of Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Burnley last Sunday as he protested a penalty kick being awarded to Burnley with Arsenal leading 1-0.

He then pushed fourth official Anthony Taylor in the tunnel area after being sent off, and while he watched on from the stands his side won and scored a late penalty kick of their own to beat Burnley and go eight points behind Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title.

[ MORE: FA Cup previews & predictions ]

Wenger accepted the FA charge and a personal hearing took place before an Independent Regulatory Commission on Friday to determine his fate.

Arsenal will be without their manager on the sidelines for the FA Cup fourth round clash at Southampton on Saturday, plus the Premier League games against Watford, Chelsea and Hull City in February.

Below is the full statement from the FA on Wenger’s heavy punishment.

Arsene Wenger has been given a four-match touchline ban with immediate effect after he was charged for misconduct following Arsenal’s game against Burnley on Sunday 22 January 2017.

It was alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official.

It was further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct.

The Arsenal manager, who was also fined £25,000, admitted the charge and requested a personal hearing which took place before an Independent Regulatory Commission today [Friday 27 January 2017].

Wenger’s conduct on the sidelines has come under question plenty of times in the past and this ban will be as much about the severity of his actions Burnley as it was about his previous behavior. Think back to him being sent off at Manchester United in the past, plus his push on Jose Mourinho in the 2014-15 season at Stamford Bridge.

This was coming.

With Mourinho getting a one-game ban for kicking a bottle of water aggressively earlier this season and then complaining that he isn’t treated the same as other managers, there was no way Wenger, his enemy, would have gotten off with anything smaller than a two-game ban for these actions.

Pushing an official, no matter how slight the push was, cannot be tolerated and Wenger apologized immediately after the incident took place as he seemed to understand the gravity of his actions.

Arsenal’s assistant manager Steve Bould will take charge of the team while Wenger is banished from being on the touchline, but the French manager will be able to attend games and sit in the stands plus speak with his team in the locker rooms.

The first game he will be allowed back into the dugout for is the huge UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg tie at Bayern Munich on Feb. 15.

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Ex-England midfielder Gascoigne on trial for sexual assault

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LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor has alleged that former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted a woman on a train by “forcibly and sloppily” planting an unwanted kiss on her lips.

Prosecutor William Mousley’s comments Monday came as Gascoigne, who has struggled with alcohol and mental-health problems, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with sexual assault of the female passenger.

Mousley said the former England star “put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”

The 52-year-old Gascoigne denies the charge.

The alleged victim has told the court that she froze when the man, who appeared drunk, kissed her in August 2018. She says she did not realize it was Gascoigne until after the alleged incident.