Sunderland deliberately tried to ruin Diaby's European dream, says Touré

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The Independent Football

Arsenal's anger over Abou Diaby's fractured ankle showed no sign of abating yesterday after defender Kolo Touré accused Sunderland's Dan Smith of deliberately attempting to hurt the French midfielder.

Diaby is out of the Champions' League final with a fractured and dislocated angle after a lunge by his fellow 19-year-old Smith.

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas has also expressed his bafflement at the challenge, which happened with the Gunners 3-0 up at the Stadium of Light and with only a minute left on the clock.

Touré is normally mild-mannered but he was infuriated by the lunge on Diaby, who joined the Gunners in the January transfer window. He said: "It wasn't an accident. He just came in to try to hurt the player, which is really, really bad. I definitely think he went for the player and not for the ball.

"They made bad tackles all the way through the second half. I said that someone would be injured if it continued and two minutes later it happened.

"They wanted to show desire because they were 3-0 down at half-time, but to show desire is not to kick or to hurt the player."

Sunderland's caretaker manager, Kevin Ball, insisted that Smith, who was making only his fourth appearance, "wasn't being malicious". But Fabregas said that would be little solace to Diaby, whose dreams of playing in a Champions' League final are now over.

Fabregas said: "I am disappointed with them about this. The game was almost over and we were winning 3-0 and it was an unnecessary tackle. If you miss the final because of something like that it's not nice and Abou does not deserve that. We cannot afford to lose any more players now in our remaining two games."

Fabregas insisted that Arsenal can still beat Tottenham for fourth place in the Premiership. Spurs play at West Ham in the final match of the season but if they only draw and Arsenal win their remaining two games, the Gunners' superior goal difference would see them finish above their rivals.

Fabregas said: "West Ham may rest some players because they are in the FA Cup final but they are at home so many things can happen and maybe they can win or draw.

"I watched Tottenham against Bolton on television in the hotel and Bolton deserved something. Tottenham were not really doing anything, but they are having the luck. We are still going to target fourth place and we have the capacity to win both our games."

If Arsenal are hoping for an easy ride in their penultimate game, they are mistaken, as the Manchester City manager, Stuart Pearce, aims to give the fans a display to savour against Arsenal tomorrow.

City want to end their home campaign in style following a dreadful run of results which has seen their hopes of a European place completely evaporate.

Pearce said: "We need to go out on a high and it would be nice to put a display on for our fans for their patience this year. You won't have to motivate your players because you are playing against a top side.

"They know they have to put in top performances to compete with the likes of Arsenal. In some ways that's not an issue for me. I am sure they will go out and put a turn on for that game."

Pearce does not expect the Champions' League finalists to field a weakened side as they chase fourth spot with the current incumbents, Tottenham, holding a four-point advantage.

Pearce said: "They did not rest too many at Sunderland. Whether they rest one or two on Thursday before a [final] League game [on Sunday] I don't know. They are in the Champions' League final but are chasing Tottenham as well, as hard as they possibly can.

"Arsenal need to be in one of those Champions' League places, so there is a lot to play for." Pearce will monitor the fitness of Sylvain Distin, Antoine Sibierski, Kiki Musampa and David Sommeil as they have all missed a couple of training sessions.