Premier League

Ramsey ready for 'cup finals'

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Fri, 29 Mar 2013 09:31:00

Aston Villa striker Darren Bent could be involved in Sunday's game against Liverpool after being confirmed as fit following a foot injury.

The 29-year-old has not played since February after sustaining the problem in training and then suffering from illness.

But Bent, who has not always been a part of Villa manager Paul Lambert's plans this season, is available for selection ahead of the visit of Liverpool.

Lambert said: "Benty is back training. He had a little flu bug there for the last few days but I think he is OK.

"He trained Wednesday morning, so he is back. He got a kick - one of the lads caught his foot. It was a bit tender to kick the ball but it could have been worse. He is OK now."

Villa could be back in the Premier League relegation zone when they kick off against Liverpool if results have not gone their way on Saturday.

But having won back-to-back games against fellow strugglers Reading and Queens Park Rangers, Lambert is feeling confident.

He said: "We have been round and about there all season so we are handling the pressure of it and it is not new for them (the players).

"They know what they have to try and do. When you start winning games you pull other teams into it who will feel edgy."

A number of England supporters joined in the singing of a song suggesting the brothers should be burned on a bonfire - it has been suggested the song had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry.

Anti-racism body FARE on Thursday reported England to FIFA over the chants and the Football Association is awaiting official notification regarding the complaint.

"You expect+accept banter from fans on the terraces as its part of what makes the game great, but racism is not banter, and from ya own fans. WOW," Ferdinand tweeted.

"Always a small minority who ruin it for others.

"Let's not jump to conclusions + assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll see after the investigation."

The Manchester United defender was vilified by fans after withdrawing from the England squad to play the game because it did not fit in with his "intricate" and "pre-planned" training programme, although he then travelled to Qatar to commentate on England's 8-0 victory.

FARE's executive director Piara Powar said on Thursday: "Although we did not have observers at the match we have pulled together evidence sent to us including media comment and have passed that on to FIFA.

"I think that it's one of those things that is very subtle. We would say racism and other forms of discrimination is not always banana throwing and monkey chants. It can be very subtle and the people collating the reports believed it is strong enough to send on to FIFA.

"From the reports we have seen I personally think there was an undercurrent of race there, and other people have thought that it has been imbued with racist overtones.

"Whether FIFA think that is strong enough to take action is another question entirely and we accept that it is certainly an unusual report."

In a worst case scenario, England could be made to play a World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.

FIFA last week forced Bulgaria to play Malta behind closed doors after finding their fans guilty of racist chants during October's World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

And in January, Hungary were fined ?27,800 and made to play a World Cup qualifying match against Romania in an empty stadium after FARE lodged a complaint over anti-Semitic chants by their fans during a match with Israel last August.

Three of England's remaining four World Cup qualifiers are at Wembley, with the first on 6 September against Moldova.

Tottenham currently occupy the lucrative fourth place in the Premier League, with Arsenal four points behind in fifth but with a game in hand.

The Gunners, despite injuries to the likes of Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, have momentum after defeating Swansea City before the international break.

In contrast, Spurs have lost back-to-back games against Liverpool and Fulham to leave Ramsey optimistic of a repeat of last season, when Arsenal produced a late run to overtake their local foes for third position.

But the Welshman is aware there is no room for any slip-ups.

Ahead of Saturday's game against Reading, he told Sky Sports News: "We are coming to the stage now where we need to treat every game as a cup final.

"We need the points and hopefully we can do that.

"We have done well and got some points when others dropped them a couple of weeks ago so hopefully we can continue doing that and have a similar result as we had last season."

A dramatic 5-2 derby win in February 2012 started Arsenal's run last season as Arsene Wenger's men finished third, while Spurs ended up in fourth and missed out on the Champions League after Chelsea won the competition.

The third-placed finish ensured Wenger kept up his impressive record of perennially qualifying for the European Cup and Ramsey does not want to be a member of the first Arsenal squad to fail under the Frenchman.

"It is massive for us to be in the Champions League and be in a competition where you are competing against the best teams in Europe," he said.

"Since Arsene Wenger has been here, none of the sides have failed to qualify and so we do not want to be the first."

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