x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

No fire with Wilshere’s smoke

Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder, has promised never to smoke again after being caught with a cigarette in public.

Jack Wilshere celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Arsenal in their match against West Bromwich Albion. David Jones / EPA
Jack Wilshere celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Arsenal in their match against West Bromwich Albion. David Jones / EPA

LONDON // Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder, has promised never to smoke again after being caught with a cigarette in public.

Wilshere was photographed smoking outside a London nightclub in the early hours of Thursday morning as he celebrated Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Napoli in the Uefa Champions League.

Arsene Wenger, the Gunners manager, was critical of Wilshere’s behaviour but still included the England player in his starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.

It was Wilshere’s lucky strike, a deflected equalising goal in the second half, that gave Arsenal the point that took them back to the top of the Premier League table.

Wilshere’s strike was his first league goal in almost three years, but he conceded his decision to smoke was a mistake he will not make again.

“Players make mistakes,” he told Arsenal Player on Monday. “I am not a smoker. I spoke with the boss and he asked me what happened. I explained to him and we sorted it out. He put me in the team and hopefully I repaid him.

“I am not a smoker so I think that will be my last [cigarette].”

Wenger had said ahead of The Hawthorns clash that he “disagreed completely” with Wilshere’s behaviour, but he was pleased with the way the 21-year-old midfielder responded to the negative publicity.

“He is an honest guy and when he is wrong he knows it,” Wenger said. “I think today the players don’t get away with anything. We got away with it a bit more, but they know that’s the rules of the modern game.

“They have to deal with it and I think he learns very quickly. What is more interesting for him and for Arsenal is that he shows the right response on the pitch.”

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Poyet set to take over at Sunderland

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Gus Poyet is set to be appointed as the new Sunderland manager on Tuesday.

Several British media outlets reported last night that the 45-year-old Uruguayan and Black Cats owner Ellis Short were the verge of agreeing a deal which would see him take over from Paolo Di Canio, who was dismissed last month, with an announcement expected this morning.

Poyet would become the sixth to have held the post on a permanent basis inside the last five years, and Short will hope he can bring the kind of long-term stability which has eluded his most recent predecessors.

There was no official comment from the club Monday.

Sunderland, who are bottom of the Premier League with just one point from seven games, parted company with Di Canio after just 175 days on September 22 following the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between him and his players.

Senior professional development coach Kevin Ball was asked to take over the reins in the meantime, and has presided over a 2-0 League Cup victory over Peterborough United and Premier League defeats by Liverpool and Manchester United. Ball had asked to be considered for the job, but appears to have lost out to Poyet.

The South American has been out of work since his acrimonious departure from Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion during the summer, when the club which famously sacked him, he claimed without his prior knowledge, while he was live on air working as a BBC pundit.

He has made no secret of his interest in the job at the Stadium of Light, saying recently: “Of course, I watch Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester, but there was a group of teams who, if they didn’t start well, I thought I could have a chance.

“I was watching Sunderland a lot. People were talking a lot about them in the summer because of Paolo and how many new players they had, so I have seen quite a lot of them.”