Wed, May 03, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Bruised Arsenal cruises to 3-0 win over Sunderland

SOCCER Arsenal kept putting pressure on fourth-place rivals Tottenham Hotspur by defeating Sunderland 3-0 in a game that ruled Abou Diaby out for the rest of the season

AFP , SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND

Middlesbrough's Lee Cattermole, right, celebrates with keeper Bradley Jones after he saved the Ruud Van Nistelrooy penalty that Cattermole had provoked by touching the ball during their English Premiership soccer match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger joined forces to slam Sunderland as Arsenal left the Stadium of Light battered and bruised after cruising to a 3-0 Premiership victory.

But France Under-19 international Abou Diaby was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a fractured, dislocated ankle, according to a statement later released on the Arsenal Web site, after he was carried off following an ugly challenge by Dan Smith and taken to hospital.

Diaby is now set to miss the Champions League final against Barcelona in Paris on May 17.

Arsenal skipper Henry led by example, scoring one and making the other two as Arsenal kept the pressure on fourth-place rivals Tottenham Hotspur. But the Frenchman was unhappy with the approach adopted by the Gunners' already-relegated opponents.

"Some of the tackles I saw, there was one on Cesc Fabregas and I don't know what the Sunderland player wanted. I hope Diaby can recover as quickly as possible. The poor kid, it's not every day you get a chance to play in the Champions League final," he said. "What happened to him at the end was a pity. Sunderland players were not interested in kicking the ball, they wanted to kick the player the whole time. Some of the tackles clearly weren't for the ball."

Manager Wenger admitted the injury took the gloss off victory as Henry's 30th goal of the season in all competitions added to a Danny Collins own goal and another from Fabregas killed the contest before half-time.

Wenger said: "It looks a very serious ankle injury, and I'm down for Diaby. He's worked hard to come back from previous injuries and this takes away from the victory.

"It was a bad kick and an unnecessary one, not nice to see. He will be going to hospital tonight and it's a big blow to lose a player like that," Wenger added before the full extent of Diaby's injury was known.

"We can accept an accident but not the way this happened. It's sad because some players are on the pitch not trying to play football. That's just not acceptable. The only one who didn't see the Smith incident as a red card was the referee," he said.

Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball defended substitute Smith, who was sent off on his Sunderland debut earlier this season.

"If Arsene Wenger's upset then that's his prerogative, let him say what he wants to say. Dan's not a dirty player, he went for the ball and has caught the player. We wish him a speedy recovery. I think it's a little unfair on Dan, he's not malicious," Ball said.

Ashley Cole is likely to start at Manchester City tomorrow night after boosting his hopes of making England's World Cup squad by making only his second appearance in seven months as a second-half substitute following ankle and foot injuries.

Victory can take Arsenal to within a point of their North London rivals in the pursuit of the fourth Champions League place ahead of Sunday's final round of fixtures, and Wenger added: "Ashley did well and physically he looks sharp.

Manchester United 0, Middlesbrough 0

Sir Alex Ferguson has blasted England's plans to take an injured Wayne Rooney to the World Cup as "folly" and insisted the striker will not be going anywhere near Germany if he has not recovered fully from his fractured metatarsal.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has said he will name Rooney in his squad for the finals in the hope that the 20-year-old will have recovered in time for the quarter-final stages of the tournament.

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