Popov faces a three-match ban as a result of the incident, which came early in the second half after he had exchanged angry words with Spurs defender Kyle Walker. Clarke confirmed disciplinary action will be taken against the Macedonia international, adding that his dismissal played a large part in Albion’s 1-0 defeat at The Hawthorns. “The game changed with the sending-off. I’m absolutely disgusted with Goran’s behaviour,” Clarke said. “One of the group has let the players down. It changed the whole complexion of the game. It’s difficult enough in the Premier League playing against 11 players, especially when you’re playing against Tottenham. “There’s no excuse for that. There’s no place for it in life, never mind on a football pitch. “I would like to think that at some stage he will apologise. As always there will be disciplinary procedures taken against the player but they’ll remain in-house.” A second-half goal from Gareth Bale earned victory for Spurs, who are now only a point behind third-placed Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas echoed Clarke’s sentiments. “It’s difficult for the ref, but Popov did what he did and Walker did nothing to react,” he said. “It’s difficult to assess but I think Mark Clattenburg made the right decision. It’s horrible and nasty.” West Brom head coach Steve Clarke slammed defender Goran Popov following his sending-off for spitting, admitting he was “absolutely disgusted”. Press Association
Press Association Chicago Grey boosted his claims for the John Smith’s Grand National when springing a 25-1 surprise in the Red Mills Chase at Navan. Rubi Light set out to make all the running in his bid to lift the Grade Two prize for the third successive year, but he never looked like winning after being headed before the third-last. Hidden Cyclone also disappointed and he too was well-beaten when he fell at the final fence. Elliott said of his two-and-a-half-length winner : “I thought he’d run well. He’s had a wind op and the Grand National is the plan now. “The ground was soft and it played into his hands. He’ll go straight for the National now and I’d say the wind op made a big difference to him.” Boylesports cut Chicago Grey to 25-1 from 33-1 for Aintree and Ladbrokes go 20s. The Gordon Elliott-trained outsider of four led between the last two fences before going on to defeat Foildubh cosily in the two-and-a-half-mile heat run in testing conditions. Chicago Grey travelled kindly for Davy Condon at the rear of the field all the way and was too strong for Foildubh in the closing stages, although the pair were separated by the width of the track.
Frank Lampard, the man whose disallowed World Cup goal forced FIFA into a U-turn on goal-line technology, has welcomed the announcement that the Premier League will use the Hawkeye system from next season. Lampard’s shot against Germany in Bloemfontein clearly crossed the line during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but officials did not award a goal and that set in motion a change of events that saw FIFA president Sepp Blatter change his mind on technology. “It’s a no brainer. It’s been a bit of time coming, but they got there in the end, said Lampard. “It’s a very good thing for football. I think it’s a simple thing. I think it will bring an excitement factor on the times that it is used and it will just give you the correct answer, which I think at this level, when it’s so important, we need that.” Press Association Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said the ability to make the replays available had been the decisive factor in choosing Hawkeye. He said: “The fact it was a camera-based system was critical. Replays will be made available to all our host broadcasters and we are examining the feasibility of them being used on in-stadium big-screens. It is essential that fans see the system in action to know that it is working.” The agreement, hailed by England manager Roy Hodgson as “a momentous day” for football, will see all 20 top-flight clubs use the system and the Football Association is set to follow suit with Wembley Stadium. The first domestic match to use the system should be the Community Shield at Wembley on August 11, and the first Premier League match the 12.45pm kick-off on August 17. The FA has been part of negotiations along with the Premier League but still has to sign a separate agreement with Hawkeye – a German system, GoalControl, had also been under consideration after submitting a tender. Hodgson said: “It’s something that people in football have wanted for a long, long time. It has been a big debate and it was pushed back but it’s great now to see that everyone is on the same page and that they have introduced it. At least it will stop some of those gross injustices that we have seen in recent years where goals have obviously been scored and not allowed. “It will be one of those momentous days in football. It will alongside days like the changing the offside law, and not least the backpass to the goalkeeper law which at the time many of us were very sceptical about at the time but now we have taken to our hearts and appreciate it.” Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has welcomed the use of the Hawkeye system. “It’s good news and I hope there is more good news to come on technology because we want the right decisions to be taken. The more assistance the referees get, the better it is,” said the Arsenal boss.
Rafael Benitez is focused only on the immediate future and not his past with Liverpool as he prepares to take his Chelsea side to Anfield in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday. Benitez is expected to receive a warm welcome on Sunday. He spent six years at Anfield, helping Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League in his first season, the FA Cup, the Community Shield and European Super Cup, while the Reds finished second in the Premier League in 2008-09. His family home remains on Merseyside and he supports the campaigners in their fight for justice for the 96 supporters killed at Hillsborough in 1989. His is a lasting bond with Liverpool, but Benitez’s aim is to defeat his former club. “I’m a professional and I am committed with Chelsea until the end of the season, to win, to achieve our targets,” said Benitez, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign. “I was there for six years, winning a lot of things together. They (Liverpool supporters) will appreciate that, but at the same time they will try to support their team and they will understand that I have to try to do my best and win.” Benitez recently was quoted as saying he wanted to return “home” to Liverpool and that his wish was to move to a top club, possibly in England next season. That was interpreted by some as a possible return to Liverpool, but Benitez meant his family home. For reasons of clarity, the Spaniard declined the opportunity to appraise Reds incumbent Brendan Rodgers. “I have a lot of respect for Liverpool Football Club and all their managers,” he said. “What I said clearly is Liverpool is my home, my family is living there and because I don’t want any misunderstanding, I will not talk about the club, the position or the manager’s position or whatever. My family’s there, it’s my home.” The Spaniard has declined to assess Liverpool since his departure in June 2010 or to talk about events at Anfield ahead of his first return as an opposing manager. “I have a lot of respect, but I have to concentrate on my team,” Benitez said. “I don’t want any misunderstanding, so I will concentrate just on Chelsea and the game and try to enjoy it, especially if we can win.” Press Association
Press Association Evidently, the affection is not reciprocated by the Arsenal fans, who gave their former captain a torrid time. Evra cannot understand why, given Van Persie did so much to advance the Gunners’ cause during his time with the club, but he thinks winning the championship this year proves the 29-year-old has no need to reproach himself. He added: “I still don’t understand why the fans boo him. I am disappointed that the fans have quickly forgotten what he did for the club. I think he felt it as well.” Van Persie’s goal took him within one of the 30 barrier, and in netting 25 in the Premier League the Dutchman has broken the record for most league goals in a debut campaign for United. “He has a chance to reach 30,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. “If he does that it justifies all our faith and hope in him.” It could be argued the move has worked out well for both parties, given United’s success has not seen Arsenal collapse in the manner so many felt likely. Indeed, as Chelsea and Tottenham still have to face each other and Arsenal’s final three games are against teams who have either been relegated – QPR – or battling to avoid the drop – Wigan and Newcastle – they should preserve their long-held top-four status. Although aggrieved United did not claim the victory he felt they deserved, Evra was impressed by the hosts’ battling qualities, and he added: “hey were one of the most aggressive teams I have played against. It was good to see Arsenal like that. They always get abuse about being a team with good football but not being aggressive enough. This time they were.” Having spent eight years in north London before switching to United last summer, Van Persie’s affection for the Gunners runs deep. The striker, who almost walked into the home dressing room following his arrival at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, opted not to celebrate the penalty equaliser and then went for a chat with his old team-mates after the 1-1 draw. “He hasn’t made the wrong choice,” said Evra. “It was a long time that he didn’t win the league (at Arsenal). He has come to Manchester United and won it.” Manchester United defender Patrice Evra believes Robin van Persie’s status as Barclays Premier League title winner proves he made the right choice to quit Arsenal for Old Trafford.
Michael Carrick is baffled by those who claim this has been his breakthrough season. Carrick’s input has been just as important as anyone’s in delivering Sir Alex Ferguson a perfect send-off. Over the last few years Carrick has perhaps not received the recognition that his ability merits. But now that age has caught up with Paul Scholes, a player who many regard as United’s greatest ever midfielder, Carrick’s contribution has been more widely noticed – much to his surprise. Carrick said: “It slightly amuses me when I see or hear people saying different things (about me), as if I have suddenly appeared from nowhere. I have maybe played a little bit better than I have done in the past, but I have been happy with my form for a long time really.” “A couple of people say something and it snowballs from there. Obviously you have to be doing things right on the pitch, but it is slightly strange how it has come about this season.” To say Carrick has merely been doing “the right things” this season is quite an understatement. The 31-year-old has completed 2,147 passes in the league this year, second only to Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta. And what is more, United’s players’ player of the season has a 90 per cent pass completion rate. This has not gone unnoticed by Roy Hodgson. The England manager considers Carrick an integral part of his squad, and given the absence of Steven Gerrard, Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere through injury, the Manchester United man is likely to feature against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and in the Maracana on Sunday versus Brazil. It seems strange to think that just three years ago Carrick made Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad, but did not play one minute of a disappointing campaign in South Africa. Carrick does not wish to dwell on that experience, and is instead determined to focus on trying to help the Three Lions qualify for Rio 2014. “What’s done is done, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it’s about the next challenge and making the most of that challenge,” Carrick said. “The next challenge is to qualify for the World Cup and then to make your mark as a team. Looking back doesn’t really help you or achieve much, you should only do that when you’re retired and have your slippers on.” Press Association
Frank Lampard saved England’s blushes with a first-half equaliser as Roy Hodgson’s men had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Ireland at Wembley. Cole, named captain after much confusion on Tuesday, collected a special gold 100th cap before kick-off from Hodgson and looked moved by the occasion. Before kick-off the Football Association repeated its call for fans not to chant politically-motivated songs, and most England supporters respected the plea during the national anthems, with only a few home fans singing “no surrender” during God Save The Queen. Wayne Rooney, making his first start in a month, looked keen to impress and he attempted a lob that went just wide after a long ball from David Forde in the third minute. England continued to have the majority of possession, but Forde remained untested. Then, with 13 minutes on the clock, the buoyant home crowd were stunned in to silence as Ireland took the lead. Walters fed the ball to right-back Seamus Coleman who whipped in a cross to the near post and Shane Long got in front of Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka to glance the ball beyond a sprawling Joe Hart. The West Brom striker cupped his ears in front of the England fans while one member of the travelling support at the other end of the stadium tossed a green smoke bomb on to the pitch which caused a brief stoppage in play. England were shaken for a moment, but they were back level 10 minutes later. Sturridge bought half a yard with some nifty footwork and drove a low ball across the box which Lampard controlled with his thigh after a mix-up between Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan before flicking the ball past Forde with his right foot. Sturridge’s evening came to a close on the half hour when he hobbled off with what looked like a serious ankle injury following a tackle with Whelan. Jermain Defoe came on in his place. An injury was the last thing Hodgson wanted. With Danny Welbeck already carrying a knee problem, Sturridge’s injury leaves the England boss with 15 fully-fit outfield players to take to Brazil for Sunday’s friendly in the Maracana. Press Association Shane Long put the visitors ahead after 13 minutes, but Lampard prodded the ball past David Forde following a defensive mix-up 10 minutes later. To make matters worse for England, Daniel Sturridge hobbled off with an ankle injury in the first half, further depleting Roy Hodgson’s squad ahead of Sunday’s game in Brazil.
Press Association Jagielka’s presence at St George’s Park this week as part of an England squad gearing up for friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Brazil underlines the progress he has made since he moved to Merseyside six years ago. “I have had two managers in my career,” he said. “Neil Warnock gave me a chance to play in the game, David Moyes gave me a chance to play at a higher level, coached me to a better level and helped my game progress.” Phil Jagielka believes he repaid former manager David Moyes for the faith shown in him at Everton. Jagielka feels loyalty is a two-way procedure, though, and in that sense he is happy with his contribution under Moyes. He added: “Over the last six years he has taken me from possibly being a Premier League defender to playing some games for England. But I would also like to think I put myself on the line for him as well.” Moyes felt confident enough in Jagielka to name him Everton’s captain when Phil Neville was slowly easing out of the first-team picture towards the end of the season. That in itself seems strange as Moyes also felt Jagielka sometimes lacked the self-belief required to get the most from his talent. “Obviously David saw me every day,” said Jagielka. “If that was his view it can’t be far off. “I have never thought of myself as being particularly shy or lacking self-confidence but I can understand what he means. “It is not in my character to be super confident. Once you are like that there is only one way to go. That is the way I am. I probably do play better when I am a bit more arrogant. But that is not really the person I am and I don’t think it will be the person I turn into.”
Since returning with a win at Hamilton in May the Cape Cross colt has run five more races and only lost once, when dropped back to a mile for the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot. Since then he has been impressive at Newmarket and won a Listed race at Hamilton. Johnston said: “He had options in the Rose Of Lancaster at Haydock and a race at Deauville but quite simply we decided on the Irish race because the field has broken up to only five runners. “I haven’t been surprised by his progression at all. I was disappointed by his display at Ascot, but that was probably my fault. He’s won over a variety of trips but it was a mistake to drop him back down to a mile. He’s far more comfortable over 10 furlongs. “If he continues to progress I will be very happy but we won’t make any decision about future races until this one is out of the way.” Taking him on is Dermot Weld’s Caponata, Aidan O’Brien’s Fortify, John Oxx’s Qewy and the Jim Bolger filly Scintillula, who was a close third to Ernest Hemingway and Royal Diamond on Thursday. Press Association Mark Johnston is looking to see Maputo’s progression continue in the Royal Whip at the Curragh.
Following Monday’s 1-1 draw with Hull, Laudrup confirmed Dutch international Vorm will need to have an operation on a niggling knee injury. But the Dane said no decision has yet been made as to when Vorm will go under the knife as the Swans try to find an opportune moment for the procedure, with the club in the midst of a busy run of games. With Vorm absent, Gerhard Tremmel started in goal against the Tigers with 18-year-old Slovenian Gregor Zabret on the bench. And Laudrup acknowledged Swansea may require further cover to cope whenever Vorm does undergo surgery, with an expected recovery period of four to five weeks. When asked if he would look to bring a keeper in, he said: “Let’s see. It depends when we can do it (Vorm’s surgery). “We have games, and there are times when we have very many games, and times when we have less. “But we always have games and you can’t play with one keeper. “That’s much too risky. If something happens to Gerhard then we would have to play with an 18-year-old who is not an experienced goalkeeper. “That’s not good for him or for the team.” One piece of good injury news for Laudrup was the return of Michu from a five-week stint on the sidelines. Press Association Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admits it is likely he will need to bring in an extra goalkeeper in January to provide cover when Michel Vorm undergoes knee surgery. The Spaniard played a full 90 minutes up front, but Laudrup will be more cautious with the forward when it comes to Thursday’s Europa League meeting with St Gallen and Sunday’s Premier League trip to Norwich. And the Dane will also not rush Wilfried Bony back into action as the Ivorian recovers from a hamstring problem. Of Michu, Laudrup said: “It was not the plan for him to play 90 minutes, he had been out for five weeks so the plan was to play him for 60 minutes. “But as the game went on, and with us not having anyone else who could play there, he wanted to play on, so he played the 90 minutes. “He will be tired for a couple of days so we have to think about the rest of the week as we have three games in six days and he cannot play in all three.” He added on Bony: “He is a little better, but we have to be careful because we are talking about a muscle injury. With a muscle injury, if you come back one day too early, you could have a setback and be out for four weeks. We don’t want that.” Monday’s fixture saw former Swansea striker Danny Graham net for the Tigers to end a 30-game goal drought. But his strike partner Yannick Sagbo also turned in a tireless display, and manager Steve Bruce admitted he has been surprised at how well the Ivory Coast international has adapted since his move from Evian. Bruce said: “He was terrific, he was top class. Strikers are always judged on goals and he has to put that in his locker, but his work-rate and his ability to hold the ball up is fantastic. “He can only get better, it’s difficult for any player to come to play in the Premier League but he has done really well. “You have to admit it’s a gamble when you sign someone from France as you wonder can they adapt? Can they settle down? It’s a different game. “I was there last week and it’s a very different game, but he is adapting.”