What made a gentle soul like Lauren resemble a demon?

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The Independent Football

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the scenes that followed the final whistle at Old Trafford last Sunday was the sight of Lauren in the thick of the fray. Plenty of other Arsenal players are regularly hauled in front of the FA for disciplinary matters, but Lauren is normally the model pupil.

Those who know the Cameroonian, whether they be fellow players or journalists, regard him as a gentle man, the type of player who would break up a fight rather than start it. And yet he is the player facing the longest ban, having been charged by the Football Association with two counts of improper conduct for "confronting Ruud van Nistelrooy after Patrick Vieira's sending-off and for confronting Ryan Giggs after the final whistle", and two counts of violent behaviour for "kicking out at Quinton Fortune following the penalty award and for forcibly pushing Van Nistelrooy in the back following the final whistle".

So what happened? Why did this normally placid professional lose his head so completely? "All I can tell you is that I have known Lauren for many, many years," his international team-mate Géremi of Chelsea said, "and he is not a dirty player. In fact, he does not have a bad bone in his body. He is a very honest guy, so there must have been something to provoke him."

According to his manager, Lauren was indeed dishing out revenge for a previous incident. "There is history between [Ruud] van Nistelrooy and Lauren," Arsène Wenger said. "It happened last year in the FA Cup [fifth-round tie, when Arsenal won 2-0 at Old Trafford]. I will give you a tape of what he did on Lauren."

Wenger was referring to Van Nistelrooy's kung-fu kick which left Lauren in agony but was not spotted by the referee, Jeff Winter. What infuriated Lauren further was the fact that the Dutchman was not subsequently tried by the video panel. "He feels there has been a long-running injustice," Géremi explained. "It was not the right thing to do, but Lauren just lost it for a moment or two. That was not typical of him."

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