The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 21 December 2011


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The Independent Online


Reo-Coker piles pressure on beleaguered Kean

Bolton Wanderers won the crucial relegation derby at 2-1 Ewood Park last night, leaving Steve Kean's Blackburn Rovers stranded at the bottom of the Premier League table, with fans even more unhappy than ever with Kean. In only Bolton's fourth Premier League victory of the season, Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker scored first-half goals for Owen Coyle's struggling side. Yakubu scored in the second half for Blackburn. Norwich drew 2-2 with Wolverhampton. MORE

Liverpool furious at Suarez ban

Liverpool have described themselves as being "surprised and disappointed" at Luis Suarez's eight-game ban for racism. The forward was banned as well as fined £40,000 last night after being found guilty by a three-man independent panel. Liverpool issued a statement that was fiercely critical of the Football Association. "The FA was determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November," it said. Liverpool also questioned Patrice Evra, whom Suarez abused. "It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations." The statement makes a formal appeal seem inevitable. MORE

Bath under fire by senior players

Two Bath players, the Springbok scrum-half Michael Claassens and the England prop David Wilson, criticised the team yesterday. Claassens said last weekend's defeat by Leinster was "embarrassing", while Wilson said it was "unacceptable". MORE

Mancini: Bridge should leave City

Roberto Mancini believes that Wayne Bridge should leave Manchester City to play football rather than collecting his money: "Wayne is a good guy but for every other player it should be important to play. In the summer he had the chance to play for Celtic." MORE

Bannan remorse over drink-driving

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan says there would have been "no point in me living" had he hurt anyone while drink-driving. "It still goes through my head now, it was a huge mistake and I regret everything I've done," he said. "It will never happen again." MORE

Hull suspend new boy Aspinwall

Hull FC have suspended Martin Aspinwall before he has played a game for them. The back-row forward, 30, who joined from Castleford last month, is due to appear at Hull magistrates' court on 30 December, charged with being drunk and disorderly.  MORE

O'Neill: Bendtner must behave

Martin O'Neill will pick Nicklas Bendtner for Sunderland at QPR tonight, but has warned him over his behaviour. "I want two basic things from Nicklas," he said. "Win us some football matches, and behave himself. Then he will be really popular with me." MORE

Arsenal begin to look for defenders

Arsenal have begun the search for new full-backs after an injury setback for Kieran Gibbs. Arsène Wenger admitted yesterday that he is "starting to look at players" as he faces the new year with five defenders injured, including all four specialist full-backs. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

The implications are heavy for anyone who, had the outcome been different last night, might have been tempted to join the regression to the days when racism was such a harsh reality in English football. MORE