Good news for Arsenal at last as Wenger's No 2 Rice stays for one more year

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The Independent Online

Arsenal legend Pat Rice is staying on as the Gunners' No 2, ending speculation about his future as Arsène Wenger's right-hand man after 27 years at the club. It has been a sixth successive trophy-less season for Arsenal but there is a chink of light at the end of the tunnel after Rice's decision to remain at the Emirates for one more year at least, saving Wenger having to shake up his coaching staff during the summer.

Rice's contract expires at the end of the season and the 62-year-old Northern Irishman, who has served Arsenal as player and coach since 1964, was widely expected to be forced into retirement due to a chronic knee injury. But Wenger said: "Pat Rice has told me he will continue for one more year. It's important for me because he knows how I work and we have a good understanding and complement each other. The day he stops will be a massive loss."

As Arsenal seek to avoid finishing fourth – they play Aston Villa at home today in their penultimate game of the season – and being plunged into an unwanted Champions' League qualifier, Wenger also revealed the moment the Gunners' entire season came unstuck – the Carling Cup final defeat against Birmingham back in February.

"The Carling Cup final had a big impact on the rest of the season. I went for it thinking that if we won it, it would ease the pressure on the players and we could play more relaxed," Wenger said. "But it worked against us. From then on, everything became more difficult. We suffered because of it. It was unexpected and, in situations like that, we have to be more composed."

Meanwhile, Thailand's football chief is set to take legal action against Lord Triesman after the former Football Association chairman implicated him in an alleged World Cup bribery scandal.

Triesman stated that Worawi Makudi had demanded the TV rights for a proposed friendly between England and Thailand in return for his 2018 World Cup vote. Makudi said he had a "very strong case" and that the claims were "groundless".

Elsewhere, one of the MPs who exposed football's latest corruption scandal has urged Fifa to stage a re-vote if it is proved 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar bribed two officials to vote for them. Damien Collins says Fifa would lose all credibility if there is firm evidence that last December's ballot was rigged.

On the pitch yesterday, Huddersfield extended their unbeaten League run to 26 games but were held 1-1 at Bournemouth in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final. Kevin Kilbane headed the Terriers ahead before Town's Ian Bennett saved a penalty from Danny Ings. However, the Cherries' Donal McDermott levelled with a 25-yard shot on the hour mark. The second leg is on Wednesday.

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