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Arsenal unhappy after Diaby injury

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Diaby will now miss the Champions League final

SUNDERLAND, England -- Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger joined forces to criticize Sunderland as Arsenal left the Stadium of Light battered and bruised after cruising to a 3-0 Premiership victory.

French Under-19 international Abou Diaby will miss the Champions League final against Barcelona on May 17 after suffering a fractured dislocated ankle, following Dan Smith's injury-time challenge.

Henry and Wenger spoke out against some of the tackles from the already relegated home side.

Arsenal captain Henry led by example, scoring one and making the other two as Arsenal kept the pressure on fourth-place rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

But the Frenchman was unhappy with the approach adopted by the Gunners' opponents.

"Some of the tackles I saw, there was one on Cesc Fabregas, I don't know what the Sunderland player wanted.

"What happened to Diaby at the end was a pity. Sunderland players were not interested in kicking the ball, they wanted to kick the player the whole time. Some of the tackles clearly weren't for the ball."

Manager Wenger felt the injury took the gloss off victory as Henry's 30th goal of the season in all competitions added to a Danny Collins own goal and another from Fabregas killed the contest before half-time.

Wenger said: "It looks a very serious ankle injury, and I'm down for Diaby. He's worked hard to come back from previous injuries and this takes away from the victory.

"It was a bad kick and an unnecessary one, not nice to see. It's a big blow to lose a player like that. Fabregas was kicked a few times as well which isn't acceptable, it's difficult to take.

"We can accept an accident but not the way this happened. It's sad because some players are on the pitch not trying to play football. That's just not acceptable. The only one who didn't see the Smith incident as a red card was the referee."

Sunderland caretaker-manager Kevin Ball defended substitute Smith, who was sent off on his Sunderland debut earlier this season.

"If Arsene Wenger's upset then that's his prerogative, let him say what he wants to say.

"Dan's not a dirty player, he went for the ball and has caught the player. We wish him a speedy recovery. I think it's a little unfair on Dan, he's not malicious."

Cole ready

Ashley Cole is likely to start at Manchester City on Thursday night after boosting his hopes of making England's World Cup squad by making only his second appearance in seven months as a second-half substitute following ankle and foot injuries.

Victory can take Arsenal to within a point of their North London rivals in the pursuit of the fourth Champions League place ahead of Sunday's final round of fixtures, and Wenger added: "Ashley did well and physically he looks sharp.

"He's getting better and better and he's ready for 90 minutes. He's had two games in the reserves so it shouldn't be a problem."

Wenger's side still have the luxury that even if they have to settle for fifth, they can demote Spurs into the UEFA Cup by winning the Champions League.

Sunderland need to beat Fulham on Thursday to avoid going an entire Premiership season without a home win.

United frustrated

Manchester United were frustrated in their bid to secure second place, and automatic entry into the Champions League, when they were held 0-0 at home by Middlesbrough.

Victory would have confirmed United as runners-up to Chelsea, who captured a second successive title with a 3-0 rout against them at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy had a second-half penalty saved as UEFA Cup finalists Boro held on for a point.

United go into the final round of fixtures with 80 points, one more than third-placed Liverpool. They host Charlton on Sunday while Liverpool travel to Portsmouth.

West Bromwich Albion, who were relegated on Saturday without playing, lost 1-0 at home to West Ham United for whom Nigel Reo-Coker scored the only goal. Story Tools

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