Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Saints second string fall flat

Nigel Adkins: Pressure on

Nigel Adkins made 11 changes to his side for the Capital One Cup clash with Leeds, but was given very little food for thought as the Championship side secured a quarter-final berth with a 3-0 victory.

It was hard to list one Saints player who started the game and emerged with credit, with debutant substitute Lloyd Isgrove the only player to draw praise from his manager.

And, despite shouldering the blame for the loss on the basis of his decision to field a new side, Adkins did concede that those who played will have to carry the consequences as well.

"It was a poor result for us," he said.

"It was a very attacking formation on paper, but on the pitch you have got to go and produce it.

"You're playing for Southampton Football Club, so every game matters. We've got supporters who have travelled, and we've put a team out that I expected to win this game.

"I expect the players to go and perform, so there's obviously going to be c onsequences of the result and performance for many people.

"We've come out to win a game of football. On paper and in theory that was possible, but we haven't produced."

The Saints were hardly allowed to perform by an on-song Leeds, who followed up their third-round defeat of Everton with another top-flight scalp.

Michael Tonge got the ball rolling with a deserved first-half opener, before El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio's penalty wrapped things up inside the last three minutes.

Having sat on a one-goal lead for the best part of an hour, United should have been looking over their shoulders. It was anything but.

It took Saints until the 70th minute to register a shot at goal - even then it was well wide - as Leeds put their patchy league form behind them in a competition manager Neil Warnock is desperate to win.

"We have talked about getting as far as we can and if we get beat, we get beat," he said.

"I haven't really tried in the cup for a few years."

Warnock was referring to his Sheffield United side's run to the last four of both the FA and League Cups in 2003.

Since then he has shared Adkins' views on rotation, and had sympathy with his opposite number on Tuesday night.

"I've been in Nigel's position at QPR, where you wonder about your team and your Premier League position is more important financially," he said.

"It is a conundrum, but we can only beat who is put in front of us."

Leeds have been drawn at home in all four rounds so far and have a 12-1 aggregate score in their favour.

They are now just a win away from the semi-finals and Warnock is hoping for a meeting with local rivals Bradford.

"That would be nice," he said. "It's great that Bradford have got through, and what about Arsenal coming back like that (beating Reading 7-5, having been 4-0 down)? We have got to be fortunate with the draw."

Selasa, 30 Oktober 2012

Reds apologise for fan treatment

Ian Ayre: Issued written apology for Jen Chang's actions

Cummins, creator of fictional Twitter character and spoof football journalist Duncan Jenkins, met Chang in a Manchester restaurant after the latter suspected someone from inside the club was leaking information.

At that meeting Cummins assured Chang his source was actually second-hand details gleaned from the internet, however, he subsequently alleged in a blog Liverpool's communication chief had made a number of threats to him.

The club investigated the matter and Cummins has received a letter of apology from managing director Ian Ayre.

"Based on everything I have heard and seen, including information provided by the parties involved in the matter, I acknowledge some of the elements you highlight were not appropriate," said the letter, published by sportingintelligence.

"I would therefore like to apologise to you on behalf of Liverpool FC, for any upset and distress this caused you.

"Clearly it is not appropriate for me to comment on how the club is managing this internally, and I trust you understand this."

The club are making no further comment on the matter.

Rodgers: Suarez will stay in PL

Luis Suarez: Loves playing in England, says Brendan Rodgers

The Uruguay forward has had to endure plenty since his arrival from Ajax in January of 2011 and it shows no signs of easing just yet.

He was banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra while the focus this campaign has been on his perceived diving.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge expressed his concern the 25-year-old could walk away from the club because of the hard time he gets from opposition managers and supporters but Rodgers rejected that.

"I think he loves playing in English football," said Rodgers of Suarez, who only signed a new long-term contract at the start of the season.

"I speak with Luis regularly and he loves the passion and excitement of the game over here.

"What he is is a player who is mentally very strong - as you can see from his time here the amount of stick he has taken.

"It is actually a driver for him. It really motiva tes him and he loves being at Liverpool: he loves the city, the club and the supporters so I can't see that (being forced out) happening."

Suarez answered his critics, and more pertinently David Moyes with a sarcastic dive at the Everton manager's feet after his deflected shot brought the opening goal in Sunday's Merseyside derby draw.

Rodgers has been impressed by the way the South American has shouldered the burden of being the club's only fit senior striker and insists it is an privilege to coach him.

"I thought he was outstanding (against Everton). He is a breath of fresh air with his enthusiasm," added the Northern Irishman.

"He is our only fit senior striker here and he was tireless against Reading and then we had to play a strong team against Anzi (in the Europa League).

"People maybe thought the condition of the team and him in particular would waver but the condition of the group, and particularly him up front, was amazing.

"He is a wonderful talent who will always provoke comments both positive and negative but the bottom line is he is a fantastic player.

"He scores goals and his goals to games ratio this season is fantastic.

"He is really inspirational for the group because he works hard every day and he is quality at that top end of the field: he genuinely is a world-class striker.

"It is a privilege to work with a player of that quality every day."

After three tough games Suarez is likely to be given the night off on Wednesday when Rodgers' former club Swansea visit in the Capital One Cup.

Liverpool, the defending champions, came through the last round with a 2-1 win at West Brom having fielded a team with an average age of 24 years 10 days, while seven of the 13 players used that night were under 22.

The Reds boss has admitted league performances are his priority and so the side he puts out in this competition will be shorn of first-team stars and Wednesday is no different.

But he intends to pay every respect to the club he left in the summer, insisting the close relationship he had with Swans chairman Huw Jenkins remains strong and that actually helped when he went back to buy midfielder Joe Allen.

"It improved the Allen deal as I was able to speak to Huw and ask if there was a market for Joe and he came back to me and told me there was a possibility he could be sold," he said.

"We became close both professionally and personally there and our relationship is still strong.

"Leaving there was sad but I knew I was coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"We are not in contact as much - we would have spoken every day and had many great football conversations - but there is still that respect there and an admiration for the work they do.

"I always like to leave on good terms. There is no problem there.

"But we want to get through and nothing will get in the way of that.

"No sentiment gets in the way of wanting to progress to the next round."

Senin, 29 Oktober 2012

Striker Romelu Lukaku could return to Chelsea from West Bromwich Albion loan

Romelu Lukaku: Impressed and scored in West Brom's defeat at Newcastle

The Belgium striker delivered a superb display and a goal in Sunday's eventual defeat by Newcastle United at St James' Park.

But Roberto Di Matteo confirmed this week a clause exists in Lukaku's loan which allows the Chelsea boss to recall the forward from his loan spell once the transfer window reopens.

And Clarke said: "What happens in January happens in January. That's no concern of mine at this present time.

"Romelu has been a good substitute for us and he has been patient and every now and then you have to give him a chance to play."

Clarke will look forward to next weekend's clash with struggling Southampton in a confident mood despite back-to-back bad luck stories, with a late loss to Manchester City preceding their St James' Park heartache.

He added: "If the players continue to play in the same manner, we will be talking about good points and good victories most weeks, so that is what we have to build on and continue to look at.

"We have to take our frustration into our next game, which is Southampton at home next week. The players know they have played well and deserved to get a minimum of three points at Newcastle, if not three."

Michael Turner was pleased Aston Villa's Darren Bent started on the bench

Darren Bent: The England striker was again a substitute for Aston Villa

Bent was a second-half substitute in Saturday lunchtime's 1-1 draw at Villa Park after former City boss Paul Lambert had again preferred Christian Benteke.

And Turner, who scored Norwich's equaliser after Benteke had opened the scoring, was happy to see his former Sunderland team-mate, Bent, on the bench.

Turner said in the Daily Mirror: "It was pleasing for us to see Benty on the bench.

"He is a proven England international so Benteke is doing well to keep him out of the side. Benteke is a strong boy and very good in the air.

"We let him loose for the goal and he took it well, even though he didn't get the best connection on it.

"But you know what you are going to get from Benty. If you give him a chance, nine times out of 10 he will take it."

Sabtu, 27 Oktober 2012

Moyes: Suarez diving a worry

Moyes: Wants referee to be strong

And Moyes says that fans may start deserting the game if players continue trying to earn cheap free-kicks and penalties.

Jack Rodwell was sent off for a tackle on Suarez during Liverpool's win at Goodison Park last term and, although the red card was rescinded after video replays showed there was no contact, Moyes remains outraged about the incident.

Looking towards Sunday's game, he said: "I've got concerns about Suarez, yes, because he's got history and these people are very good at it.

"Last year was a dive, and the referee made a really poor decision that ruined the game after 15 minutes.

"It will turn the public and fans off football if they think people are conning their way to results. When you're out to manufacture results, supporters don't like it.

"Supporters don't like the idea of people going to ground too easily. Everyone who has ever played football, everyone who's been involved, would hate that. You'd be saying, 'Get up!'

"People who play football find it very hard to go along with. Retrospective viewing of diving is nearly more important than some of the other technology they are thinking about."

Kamis, 25 Oktober 2012

O'Neill: Cattermole needs to learn

Cattermole: Sent off seven times

The 24-year-old midfielder has spent the last month kicking his heels after being sent off for the seventh time in his senior career in the 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at MK Dons on September 25.

As a result, he has missed the Premier League fixtures against former club Wigan, Manchester City and Newcastle at a time when the Black Cats have struggled to find their best form.

He will be back in the fold for Saturday's difficult trip to Stoke with O'Neill happy to see him return, but rapidly losing patience with his captain's ability to incur the wrath of match officials.

Asked if Cattermole had been chastened by his latest spell on the sidelines, the manager replied: "You would naturally hope so.

"It's time out and you sit and watch games from the stand and feel as if you want to be involved, and you realise that you should be.

"I would like to think that maybe he would have learned a lesson - but it's happened to him before and he h as come back. I am hoping he can do because he's very important to us.

"Over those three games we missed what he gives us, which is that bit of extra drive, and as a captain he is very good, he is very good indeed.

"It really will be up to him as much as anything."

Cattermole's dismissal for an ugly lunge at MK Dons defender Adam Chicksen was his second since O'Neill's arrival on Wearside, with the first coming after the final whistle in last season's derby draw at Newcastle when he was red-carded after collecting a second booking for comments he made to referee Mike Dean.

The Sunderland boss has spoken repeatedly to him about his disciplinary problems, and while he continues to admire him as a player, he knows the former Middlesbrough man has to clean up his act.

O'Neill said: "We don't have a conversation every single day about it, but we talked at the time he was out.

"Obviously he was disappointed, but not half as disappointed as we were to know that he was missing from the games and through his own fault.

"Now if it had been something that we had been able to have looked at, and thought there were mitigating circumstances or something like that, then perhaps it might have been a different issue, but no.

"And yet the previous time he was sent off he was booked in the first couple of minutes of the game against Newcastle, but had a great game all together and was able to show that discipline, which was very, very important, particularly in that game.

"Then to come off at the end of the game and find out when I arrived in the dressing room that he had survived all of that and got himself sent off for speaking to the referee..."

Chelsea rubbish Terry rumours

John Terry: Linked with Valencia move

Spanish agent Francois Gallardo claimed on Thursday morning that Terry was mulling over a move to Valencia after deciding to leave Stamford Bridge.

"Valencia are negotiating, and I am involved in person," Gallardo told Radio Intereconomia. "The offer is on his table. The player is out of contract in June and will not renew there for several reasons at Chelsea and he wants to come to Spain.

"He asked to leave. It's real. This has been going on for 15 days and two meetings have already took place. I think he will accept."

The Blues were quick to rubbish the claims, however, with a club spokesman insisting the story is "nonsense."

Terry, who has 18 months left on his deal at Stamford Bridge, is currently serving a four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

The former England skipper has played for the London club throughout his professional career.

Rabu, 24 Oktober 2012

Hiddink sees bright Reds future

Hiddink: Sure Liverpool can be successful once again

In 2008-09 - the season in which Hiddink spent a brief spell in charge of Chelsea - the Reds finished second in the Premier League, but they have subsequently only managed to come seventh, sixth and last term eighth.

They have made a mixed start to the current top-flight campaign which has yielded nine points from their opening eight fixtures, and Hiddink admits Liverpool are certainly a different prospect these days compared to the team his Blues side defeated over two legs in the Champions League quarter-finals.

However, as he prepares for another meeting with the Merseyside club, the Dutchman has spoken of his confidence that Liverpool will taste success again.

Reflecting on those past encounters, Hiddink - who is preparing his side to meet the Reds at Anfield for a Europa League clash on Thursday evening - said: "Of course, at that time they (Liverpool) had different players and were more leading in the Premier League.

"This season they have had a problematic start, but this is a huge institution - it will always recover.

"Liverpool will always resurrect and come up to the top where they belong."

Hiddink - who took Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph, the Champions League semi-finals and third place in the Premier League during his three-month stint with them - became Anzhi boss in early 2012 and the nouveaux riche club are currently leading both Europa League Group A and the Russian top-flight having lost only once in 21 games this term.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are third in the group and 12th in the Premier League, but Hiddink feels Brendan Rodgers' side are the favourites on Thursday.

"You have to realise that the Premier League is one of the leading leagues in the world of football," said Hiddink, who insists he was not approached by Liverpool about succeeding Rafael Benitez as their manager in 2010.

"Although Liverpool are not in the top three at this moment, they have some ex perienced players and they are going for this competition and looking to go further in Europe.

"They are favourites and not us. I think Liverpool are the favourites in this group."

Anzhi have former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o in their squad for Thursday's game, but their ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra is injured.

Reina a Merseyside derby doubt

Reina: Picked up injury with Spain

Having picked up the injury on international duty with Spain, Reina missed the 1-0 Premier League home win over Reading on Saturday and will not feature in Thursday night's Europa League clash with Anzhi at Anfield.

The 30-year-old will be keen to be involved in the league trip to Everton on Sunday, and was quoted on Tuesday as saying he was "getting better, little by little" - although he added that he was prepared to be "patient".

However, Reina did not take part in the training session with the rest of the Liverpool squad which was open to cameras at Melwood on Wednesday morning, and asked how long the keeper was likely to be out of action for, Reds assistant manager Colin Pascoe said: "We are not quite sure at the moment.

"Hopefully not too long. He is doing his rehab at the moment and is working hard in training.

"So we will just have to assess him over the weekend and we will see then."

Brad Jones deputised for Reina in the Rea ding game and is set to do so again for the Anzhi contest.

Pascoe, meanwhile, is confident the Reds will not be distracted by thoughts of the Merseyside derby in Thursday's Europa League clash.

The Reds make the short trip to Goodison Park on Sunday knowing they will fall nine points behind Everton in the Premier League if they lose.

Before then there is a European assignment to be tackled with the visit to Anfield of Anzhi, the Russian outfit currently leading Group A after two rounds of fixtures.

Liverpool are third, and having been beaten at home by Udinese in their previous outing in the competition, they could do with bouncing back with a win to boost their qualification hopes.

That, according to Pascoe, is the only job the squad is concentrating on for the time being.

"With the next game, it is always the same," Pascoe said.

"The boys are looking forward to Anzhi.

"Everton against Liverpool is a massive game, but it hasn't been talked about and isn't being thought about at the moment.

"We are thinking just purely about the game tomorrow."

Anzhi - coached by Guus Hiddink - have several notable names among their ranks, including former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o.

Jones is fully aware of Eto'o's threat, but says that given the calibre of players he has to contend with every day in training with Liverpool, he is not worried by the prospect of facing the Cameroon international.

"For me, playing against whoever, it doesn't particularly bother me which player it is - it is the same idea when you go out, which is that you don't want to concede goals," Jones said.

"Obviously Eto'o is a fantastic player and has been for a number of years, playing at the top.

"You know you are going to have to be on top of your game, but I have to do that every day with the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard anyway.

"It is just about maki ng sure you concentrate and do the right things."

Senin, 22 Oktober 2012

Lowton hopeful of improvement

Lowton: Villa yet to win on the road

Villa are yet to win on the road in the Premier League this season, and Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Fulham was their fourth in five outings to date.

Lowton told the club's official website: "We have to keep our belief. We are not playing badly. We have had very tough away games - St James' Park, White Hart Lane and Craven Cottage. We have gone to those places and played very well.

"It took a fantastic goal at Newcastle to peg us back. We should have gone ahead arguably against Tottenham, and we were fantastic up until 84 minutes against Fulham.

"It's tough to take because the performances are there. We are just not getting the results.

"Hopefully at home against Norwich (on Saturday), we can get the crowd right behind us and get at them from the off. We were fantastic at home against Swansea, so there's no reason why we can't replicate that."

Rabu, 17 Oktober 2012

Spurs snub Sherwood approach

Sherwood: Spurs refuse Blackburn permission

Blackburn are in the market for a new boss after taking the decision to part with Steve Kean's services.

Numerous names have been offered as possible candidates to fill the void, with Sherwood among them.

The 43-year-old spent seven successful years at Ewood Park during his playing days - captaining the club to Premier League title glory in 1995.

Sherwood has no managerial experience of which to speak, but he has been part of the coaching set-up at Tottenham since October 2008.

He has attempted to play down reports linking him with the Blackburn post, claiming he has 'a great job' already, but Rovers remain keen to hold talks.

They have, however, come up against strong resistance from Tottenham and face a race against time in their efforts to appoint a new boss before Saturday's Championship clash with Derby.

Selasa, 16 Oktober 2012

Torres: I was Chelsea outcast

Torres: Felt like he wasn't part of the team at Chelsea

The Spain striker endured a difficult spell following his 50million move from Liverpool in January 2011, finding himself on the fringes of the Blues team.

Torres revealed in an interview with El Pais that led to him becoming disenchanted with life at Stamford Bridge.

He told the Spanish newspaper: "Halfway through last season, I distanced myself from the values I had grown up with. I had team-mates who didn't care if the team won or lost because they were not playing. I never wanted to be like that - [But] one day I discovered that I was like them, that it didn't matter if we won or lost if I was not playing.

"I wasn't part of the group. I discovered that I was not happy because I had stopped being what I had always wanted to be. In the dressing room, you can never lose that group concept.

"But I learned to look at myself and to realise that the only person that can change is you. The only person who can say: 'You're making mistakes, you've got to do something' is you."

Torres, 28, feels the switch of management when Roberto di Matteo took over after Andre Villas-Boas' short tenure offered a fresh start.

"When we changed coach [and Roberto Di Matteo took over] it was a bit more similar [to Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's style]. That had a good side to it, which was that I learned: I became a better player," he added.

"I can now do things that I was not able to before. You can be the player that your coach wants, but you're not the player that people expect you to be. I spoke to Steve Holland, the [Chelsea] assistant, a lot and we worked hard on it.

"I became more mature, I came to know myself better and became conscious of the fact that it depends on me.

"I learnt to be more self-critical, to understand everyone better and to accept the situation.

"I learnt that if we won it didn't matter that I hadn't played. I had to keep working.

"When I retire the only t hing that concerns me is that no-one can say that I was a bad team-mate or disrespectful or self-important."

Torres admits it was not a straightforward decision to leave Anfield, where he had become an important player after his 26.5million transfer from Atletico Madrid in July 2007.

"I owe Liverpool a huge amount. To the people, to the men in charge, to Benitez and his staff, to the city. Liverpool is a fundamental part of my life. They don't remember me that way, but time will change that," he said.

"I could not have chosen a better place to go when I left Atletico.

"My son is a Liverpool fan and he was already kicking a ball before he was one. He was born in the football city; he had no choice."

Torres added: "I decided to leave because I had to take a step forwards. It wasn't the best way to have gone, but nor were things exactly as they were sold [to people].

"One day the truth will come out. In a sporting sense, nothing was hap pening; a new project was needed. We talked about that - about growth."

Senin, 15 Oktober 2012

Distin hails stylish Everton

Distin: Enjoying Everton's style of football

The Toffees had the third meanest defence in the Premier League last season but have managed just one clean sheet in their last six games, drawing 2-2 at Wigan last time out.

It hasn't stopped them getting results as a more expansive approach sees Everton sitting fourth in the table and Distin is enjoying developments at Goodison Park.

"We're going to have to try and find different ways to play," the 34-year-old defender told the Liverpool Echo. "Sometimes we're going to be able to try and play a bit like Barcelona, and I got stick for saying that before.

"But I really believe that sometimes we do play some really good football. I'm not saying it's for the whole game but in spells it's amazing when Bainsey (Leighton Baines) and (Steven) Pienaar link-up.

"We've conceded a few lately but we're still doing OK at the back. People only remember the last goal we conceded or the one before but you have to look at the whole picture and how many the opposition conceded too.

"You play against top strikers. Look at Wigan - not a massive club with a lot of money but we still came up against two good strikers. That's the same week in week out. It's not just City, United and Chelsea.

"Can we do better? Yes - but I'm happy. We can never be perfect because perfection in football doesn't exist. For one or two games yes but only Arsenal went the whole season unbeaten and that only happened once.

"We just need to be consistent and keep scoring goals. Yes we want to be more settled at the back but if we're much more defensive, do we risk scoring less goals? That's the question. Can you have both?"

Minggu, 14 Oktober 2012

Rangel hails Swans new boys

Hernandez: Tipped to get better by Rangel

Michu and Chico have quickly established themselves as key players under Michael Laudrup following positive starts to the season, and Rangel expects Hernandez to make an impact as well.

"It can be very difficult sometimes for players to arrive in a foreign country and adapt quickly," he told the club's official website. "It's a totally different country and the style of football can take some time to get used to.

"But I think Michu, Chico and Pablo have settled in very quickly.

"Michu has already scored six goals this season, which is brilliant considering he's only played in eight games.

"Chico, like Michu, is already a big favourite with the supporters. He is learning to speak English to communicate more with the rest of the team, but I think he is settling in very well.

"Pablo, too, is quickly adapting into this team and the Premier League. Of course, he arrived later than Michu and Chico, but he is a quality player.

"He's a Spanish international, which says a lot about his quality, and I think he gives the manager even more options going forward.

"I think he will get better and better with every game he plays, and that's great news for us."

Sabtu, 13 Oktober 2012

Toon won't miss strike duo

Ba and Cisse: Won't be going to ANC

Senegal's visit of Ivory Coast was called off in controversial circumstances on Saturday, with the visitors leading 2-0 and 6-2 on aggregate.

The decision to award the visitors a penalty in the 76th minute, which Didier Drogba converted after his opener, sparked crowd trouble.

Objects were hurled onto the pitch and small fires were lit around the ground in Dakar to leave the home side facing disciplinary action.

"The match was halted and the Lions of Senegal will not qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations," said the APS, Senegal's official news agency.

"Senegal will now incur a sanction from the Confederation of African Football (CAF)."

Newcastle are likley to be without Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote, while Arsenal could also lose Ivorian forward Gervinho to international duty at the tournament in South Africa. Manchester City face losing brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure and Wigan could be without striker Arouna Kone.

Ch elsea are set to lose John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses to Nigeria after both scored against Liberia to secure their country's place in the tournament.

Nigeria thrashed Liberia 6-1 on Saturday to claim a decisive 8-3 aggregate win and seal their qualification for the competition.

Mikel and Moses were both on target, with the latter grabbing a brace as the Super Eagles strolled to victory.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is set to lose summer signing Modibo Maiga to international duty with Mali after he scored to help his country claim a convincing 4-1 away win over Botswana, sealing a 7-1 aggregate victory and booking their spot in the finals.

Fulham's Mahamadou Diarra and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Samba Diakite could also be involved.

Uganda were left heartbroken after beating Zambia 1-0 to send the game into extra-time and penalties on an aggregate score of 1-1, only to lose 9-8 on spot-kicks to the reigning African champions.

Tunis ia advanced on away goals after a goalless draw at home to Sierra Leone left the aggregate score at 2-2, while Ghana beat Malawi 1-0 on Saturday to claim a 3-0 aggregate success.

Lucas won't rush Reds return

Lucas: Vowed not to return too soon

Lucas is currently recovering from a problem he picked up in the second game of the season against Manchester City after spending most of last season on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.

The Brazil international is not expected to return to action until November at the earliest and Lucas insists he will only return to action when he feels he is ready.

"It's been the worst experience of my career because I've never had experience of injuries," Lucas told the club's official website. "The knee injury was bad because it's a long-term injury and I had to recover for seven, eight months. But this one has been worse, because I'd got so close. I was feeling well, feeling fit. To have to wait again and start another rehab, it's been very difficult.

"I've just got to try and be positive. There is nothing I can do, just try to get right again and not rush, be with the family and try to be strong.

"It's important not to rush, to get back when I really feel able to play 100 per cent."

Jumat, 12 Oktober 2012

Barry happy in the shadows

Barry: Midfield workhorse

The midfielder is something of an unsung hero at the Etihad Stadium, with a collection of more illustrious colleagues often stealing the headlines at the reigning Premier League champions.

Barry has no complaints with such a standing, with his game all about doing the little things well and making life easier for the more creative influences around him.

His work may not always be recognised outside of Manchester City's inner circle, with there no room for him in the latest England squad, but the 31-year-old is happy to continue going about his business in an understated fashion.

Barry told the Manchester Evening News: "I am that sort of player. I don't go on to the pitch thinking about walking back into the media area and looking for headlines.

"That's not my role and I have been lucky enough over the years to work for managers who have been able to see that.

"That's all I care about, playing my game, and as long as I'm playing and t he team is winning, it's perfect."

Barry's role at Manchester City is geared towards bringing the best out of David Silva and Yaya Toure, something which has been happening in recent weeks.

He added: "Since I came to City, you see the players the club have signed, and that is the reason I came here.

"They can make your job so much easier - it's fantastic to receive the ball and see the attacking options we have, the options to give the ball into feet, or put it in behind, and know they will create chances.

"That's what we did against Sunderland last Saturday."

Rabu, 10 Oktober 2012

Gazidis makes financial claim

Gazidis: Thinks Arsenal provide a good model

UEFA have already introduced Financial Fair Play guidelines for clubs to live within their means.

Arsenal recently posted a healthy pre-tax profit and Gazidis believes they provide the model which could be adopted by more clubs as they look to become self-sustaining.

He told BBC Five Live: "Arsenal were operating this way a long time before football looked at it and decided it would be a good path for football to move into.

"I think people believe money can be spent without consequence and if we learnt anything from the financial crisis the world has had over the last few years it has to be unsustainable spending and unsustainable environments don't last forever.

"I think football is in a fantastic position to address this because we are in a position where I am very optimistic for the future of football. The revenues the game generates, particularly the Premier League's position, is fantastic.

"This is a very successful UK industry and it deserves a lot of credit for that.

"This is a great time for us, when things are going well, to address issues of unsustainability while we can because as we've learned addressing them from a position of weakness is never a satisfactory way to do it.

"The Premier League owners are coming together: I think there is a developing consensus around the fact we need some form of tighter financial regulations to make sure as we look forward that the interest of the Premier League, its clubs and the fans are well protected.

"(And) we are running our league on a sound financial business model and taking advantage of what this league has to become the world's leading sports league."

According to Gazidis, the Gunners have always tried to strike the balance between the long and short-term and have managed to resist just pushing for the latter without taking heed of potential consequences.

He also defended manager Arsene Wenger, who many have acc used of letting the club fall far behind the likes of the Manchester teams due to his perceived aversion to spending money.

Gazidis said: "I don't think Arsene is conservative, I think he is extraordinarily brave. I think he does things others don't do and sees things others don't see.

"Arsene is not fixed on the price of a player in assessing a player's value, he will look with equal weight at a young player who is coming through the Arsenal academy and a player that might be available with a very hefty price tag from overseas.

"He is not afraid to spend money when he believes in a player and sees a player he thinks can kick us forward but he is not obsessed with the security that a big transfer fee might give him."

While he understands the criticism that has come the club's way because of the lack of silverware, Gazidis is convinced the wait for a trophy will soon be over.

He said: "I think the time when we have to continue to ask them (A rsenal supporters) for patience is coming to an end and I think we will be able to deliver the kind of success they want on a consistent basis going forward as one of the leading clubs in Europe."

Selasa, 09 Oktober 2012

Moyes targets Champions League

Moyes: Wants to claim Europa League spot at least

The Toffees won two and drew another of their four matches to remain in the top four heading into October.

Moyes is now keen for his side to build on their good start and maintain their elevated position for the rest of the campaign.

"With the quality of the Premier League it is really hard to qualify for the Champions League but I wouldn't say we can't do it," said the Scot.

"It is possible and you have to aim for that.

"If we fall short and end up in the Europa League then so be it, but in recent years we have been pretty close, finishing sixth, seventh or eighth, so we want to do that at the very least.

"But I am really pleased and with all these awards it comes as a team thing. It is something the whole team has strived to achieve.

"The players have played well, they are in good form. We have had a good start to the season through August and September and big thanks to Barclays for giving me this award."

Much has be en made of Everton's uncharacteristically good start but Moyes is wary of getting too carried away relatively early in the season.

"The pleasing thing is that we tend not to start that well but we have won a few games," he told the club's website.

"I do say it carefully as I see 10 games as a start and we are only six or seven in at the moment - we have to be careful how we view it.

"People have asked me like there has been a big change, or we have done something differently but every year you try to do things right and get off to a good start.

"The year we had a good start we qualified for the Champions League (in 2005) and we have been trying to get back to that.

"We have tried doing the exact same things but you need a bit of luck and you need good players.

"Importantly [this year], we had most of our recruitment done early and that gave me a chance to go into this season with a few added to the team that finished last season."

Saints rocked by Ramirez blow

Ramirez: Out of action for up to six weeks

The Uruguay international suffered a dead leg in training and the thigh muscle later swelled up, causing him to spend time in hospital.

Saints manager Nigel Adkins will not take any chances with his 12million summer capture and the 21-year-old midfielder looks likely to miss their next four matches.

Ramirez has also been ruled out of his country's World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Bolivia.

"The muscle swelled up very much because there was nowhere for the blood to go, so there was a lot of pressure on his thigh," said Adkins.

"He has had to have a couple of days in hospital to try and relieve the pressure, so obviously he is not going to go and join the Uruguayan team over the international break."

Senin, 08 Oktober 2012

Rodgers sticks up for Suarez

Suarez: Defended by Rodgers

Only a couple of weeks ago, the Northern Irishman felt the need to not only to speak out publicly about the treatment the Uruguay international was receiving on the pitch but also raise the subject with referees' chief Mike Riley.

In Sunday's goalless draw at home to Stoke, Suarez went down theatrically in the penalty area which led to Potters manager Pulis called for three-match bans for players who dive.

Defender Robert Huth has, however, escaped punishment despite appearing to stamp on Suarez after the Football Association confirmed the incident was seen by officials at the time and therefore no further action can be taken.

That has left Rodgers outraged.

"As manager of this football club, I find it incredible that in nearly all the coverage about Luis Suarez this weekend, very little focus has been placed on the fact that he was actually the victim of a stamping incident within the first five minutes of the game," he told Liverpool's of ficial website.

"At this moment, there seems to be one set of rules for Luis and another set for everyone else.

"Diving and simulation is obviously a wider issue in football and one that we all agree has to be eradicated from our game but there were other incidents this weekend that didn't seem to generate the same coverage.

"No-one should be distracted by the real issue here, both at Anfield and at another game played on Sunday, when Luis and another player were hurt in off-the-ball incidents that went unpunished but were caught on TV cameras.

"I believe some people need to develop a sense of perspective and I also believe in this moment the vilification of Luis is both wrong and unfair.

"I will continue to protect the values, spirit and people of this great club and game while searching for a consistent level of results in order to make progress on the field."

Suarez has earned a reputation, during his relatively short time in Engl ish football, for going down too easily but Rodgers has always insisted that was not the case.

Less than a fortnight ago, the Reds boss raised his concerns about how referees were not giving decisions in Suarez's favour, having been frustrated by what he felt were clear penalties against Sunderland and Manchester United being overlooked.

"He hasn't dived - they have been legitimate," he said at the time.

"He went down at Sunderland and it looked a clear penalty and he ended up getting booked for it.

"I'm not sure (whether Suarez's reputation is influencing officials). You'd need to ask the referees but he is a wonderful talent and, irrespective of whether he goes down, if it's a penalty, it's a penalty.

"What I have seen, he certainly doesn't ever look like he is going to get a decision and that is something which would bother me going forward."

Wilshere comes through next test

Wilshere: Played 74 minutes

England midfielder Wilshere has been sidelined since June 2011 with ankle and knee problems, but he played 74 minutes as goals from Serge Gnarby and Chuba Akpom sealed Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Reading U21s at Underhill.

Frimpong is nearing full fitness after suffering a serious knee injury on loan at Wolves, while full-back Sagna is recovering from a broken leg and they also improved their match sharpness.

Arsenal reserves coach Terry Burton is pleased with Wilshere's progress.

"He rode challenges better which is a big part of his game," Burton told Sky Sports News. "He likes to keep the ball close to defenders to put them out of the game and I think he did that better tonight.

"I think his final pass was good. For me, it was a big improvement on his previous performance."

Burton admits that Wilshere's rehabilitation has been a gradual process, but he is pleased with his determination to return to fitness.

"It's only normal it does come in those stages, it doesn't happen overnight," he said.

"He's worked very hard with the fitness people, he's been back in training in our group for a couple of sessions as well and he's been first class in those."

Lloris glad to start for Spurs

Lloris: Applauds the crowd at White Hart Lane

Lloris' Spurs team-mate Brad Friedel saw his record run of 310 consecutive league outings end on Sunday when manager Andre Villas-Boas selected the Frenchman to start in goal against Aston Villa.

Ahead of that 2-0 victory the keeper had made just two Europa League appearances for his new club.

The 25-year-old has had to endure speculation over his role at White Hart Lane during his first few weeks there, with suggestions surfacing he will not necessarily displace Friedel as Villas-Boas' number one.

But the shot-stopper says he has had no issues with his team-mates or manager since his arrival despite the doubts over his prospects in North London.

Lloris, who joined Spurs from Lyon on transfer deadline day, was glad to start his Premier League career with a clean sheet.

He told L'Equipe: "I am happy because we won. It was an important match because it was my first start in Premier League.

"It has been quite a special month (but ) not complicated. It was everything all around me that had a bad role (to play).

"For me, everything with Brad Freidel, the goalkeeping coach and even the manager, has gone off smoothly."

Lloris believes joining so late in the transfer window has left him playing catch-up at White Hart Lane and expects to improve if he is given more games.

"When you sign at a club at the last minute, it is never that easy. I made the choice to come, so I have to take that on," he added.

"Usually, you have a whole pre-season to get to know each other and play during friendlies.

"I immediately joined the club during the season, and I still need some matches to find my pace again and get to my best level.

"I was used to playing every three days at Lyon. To improve and be outstanding, you have to play match after match very often.

"During the last month, I only played three encounters. So you need to show a little more concentration.

"You try to make up for it with more work during training-sessions. But the truth comes at the weekend."

Di Matteo warning for Hazard

Hazard: Must make more effort to stay on his feet

Referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved by two penalty appeals for fouls on Hazard during Saturday's 4-1 victory over Norwich at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgian won three spot-kicks in his first month at the Premier League club but has seen nothing given since then.

With backlash over simulation a recurring theme for several clubs so far this season, Di Matteo hopes Hazard is not being tarnished with a reputation as a diver.

He told The Times: "The first three penalties he got in the first few games were clear-cut penalties.

"But there were a few others where he didn't get them so I wouldn't want the officials to have a prejudice against him.

"If it's a foul, it's a foul. Sometimes they get them right, sometimes wrong.

"I wouldn't accuse my players of going down too easily. It's a different culture. In England you need to try everything to stay on your feet."

Minggu, 07 Oktober 2012

Pardew wants RvP punishment

Van Persie and Cabaye: Clashed off the ball

United ran out 3-0 winners on Tyneside after getting off to a flying start, but in a Premier League game marred by eight bookings, Pardew was left fuming by a late off-the-ball clash between the Dutchman and France international Yohan Cabaye which went unseen by referee Howard Webb.

He said: "He has looked at Yohan and he has elbowed him, and I think that perhaps needs to be looked at, if I am honest.

"There's a bit of history from last year and I don't know if Robin has been caught up in that, but that was just a little bit unsavoury.

"I actually thought Yohan wouldn't have gone down if he hadn't done something.

"I didn't see it myself, but I have obviously seen it on the replay and it looks like he has looked at him and put his elbow there."

The prospect of action being taken against his star striker - he potentially faces a three-game ban - was the only negative for United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on an afternoon when his players to re the Magpies apart to exact revenge for their 3-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture last season.

The Scot said: "It was a great result. To come here and win 3-0 against a very powerful, aggressive Newcastle team, you have to really perform and make sure you keep control of the game, and I think we did that most of the time."

United effectively had the game won within 16 minutes as they surged into a 2-0 lead without breaking sweat.

First central defender Jonny Evans was allowed to run on to Van Persie's eighth-minute corner and power a header past keeper Steve Harper, and then full-back Patrice Evra applied a similarly comprehensive final touch to Wayne Rooney's 16th-minute corner to extend the lead.

Ferguson said: "It's strange - we played such good football and made a lot of good openings, but we scored from two set-pieces, which is unusual for us, so we will take it, anyway.

"Patrice, I think has only scored two goals and I think Jon ny Evans has only scored two goals."

Newcastle came desperately close to dragging themselves back into it five minutes after the restart when Demba Ba headed Shane Ferguson's cross on to the bar and Papiss Cisse stooped to head the rebound towards goal.

However, keeper David de Gea clawed it on to the post and survived claims that the ball had crossed the line.

Ferguson said: "The goalkeeper has done fantastically, actually, to get to it, but if the rule is the whole ball has got to be over the line, then it's not a goal.

"But I would be disappointed because I thought enough of the ball is over."

Newcastle's misery was complete 19 minutes from time when Tom Cleverley cemented victory with a curling effort from long range, although there was not complete agreement over whether he meant it or not.

Cleverley told Sky Sports: "Yes, I meant to put it in that far corner. I looked to the far corner - whether it's a good cross or it's a good finish, luckily it found the net."

Pardew was left to bemoan the catastrophic defending which cost his side so dearly, and the near miss which might have prompted a fightback.

He said: "The goals were not wonder-goals, they were two set-plays, and we were very disappointed with the goals, especially how organised we are as a rule."

Mertesacker: Defence can be key

Mertesacker: In action against West Ham

The 6ft 6in German centre-back produced a composed display alongside captain Thomas Vermaelen as the Gunners battled to a 3-1 win at West Ham on Saturday evening.

After being undone by a fine opening goal for midfielder Mohamed Diame, it was a test passed which Mertesacker believes shows Arsenal, with former defender Steve Bould now assistant manager, have the capability to close out crucial phases of games this season.

"It can be the difference, it is crucial for us that the defence is winning more than just games. We just try to keep that in our mind the whole year," he said.

"We have not conceded a lot of goals during games this year, most have been from set pieces.

"We just need to keep concentrating on our defensive level."

Mertesacker recovered from a virus to return to the heart of the defence, having been left on the bench for the 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea.

With Lauren Koscielny the other option for manager Arsene Wen ger depending on what challenges the Gunners face - Saturday's was the aerial threat of fit-again England striker Andy Carroll - there seems to be little prospect of a regular defensive partnership.

Mertesacker, 28, sees that as a positive.

"The manager told us before the start of the season that we have a lot of good centre-backs and is convinced we can make the team stronger and stronger because we have a lot of these good players in every position," he said.

"The manager said he would change sometimes and I think that's great for our development."

Mertesacker added: "The dressing room is full of good lads, we are looking forward to every game.

"All of the subs who came in against West Ham were fantastic and we have a great squad, we can feel the confidence rising."

The form of midfielder Santi Cazorla has certainly helped rejuvenate the Gunners.

The industrious Spaniard, a summer signing from Malaga, cracked in a superb 25- yard left-foot effort to wrap up the 3-1 win with seven minutes left.

"Cazorla makes everybody a better player," said Wenger.

"When you see these kind of players don't play for Spain [regularly], it just goes to show how good they are.

"He is right footed, but when you watch him play you don't know.

"Glenn Hoddle was like that, left-footed, right-footed, you could not say what he was, Cazorla is on that front similar.

"I don't remember anyone else I have worked with who was as much two-footed as that."

Theo Walcott came off the bench to net a crucial second goal on the break with a well-taken finish.

The England forward has yet to agree a new deal, but Wenger is not overly concerned.

"We are always in touch," the Arsenal manager said.

"He has character, Theo. He keeps focused and he wants to show he is 100% professional and I have a big respect for that attitude."

Southampton v Fulham reaction

Adkins: Watches on at St Mary's

Jose Fonte gave Saints a fourth-minute lead on the south coast in Sunday's Premier League encounter but, having failed to make the most out of their first-half dominance, the Cottagers levelled things up thanks to Jos Hooiveld's second-half own goal.

The Dutch defender was again involved two minutes from time when substitute Kieran Richardson's close-range effort took a deflection off him on its way in, seemingly ensuring an away win for the west Londoners.

However, Saints rallied late on and Fonte's last-gasp header earned a 2-2 draw that Adkins knows could have easily been three.

"Obviously I am delighted we've come back so late on after going behind, but disappointed to concede the goals we did," Adkins said.

"The first half was good. We passed the ball well at certain stages.

"We scored a good goal from a set play and could have maybe scored some more so the first half was very pleasing.

"The second half Fulham have come o ut and had a bit more possession of the ball. It was too open for our liking.

"We weren't compact enough in our pressing as a team and we conceded a couple of poor goals.

"We'd like to think we could've done better with them, but there was great character from the players to score at the very end.

"You've got to take your chances when they're presented. We had several good opportunities throughout the course of the game."

Southampton have now conceded a league-high 20 goals in just seven Premier League matches this season.

Adkins knows that statistic is not good enough but was proud of his defence's efforts today after right-back Frazer Richardson was forced off after eight minutes, resulting in a defensive reshuffle.

"I keep going on about learning but we need to learn quicker," the Saints boss said.

"We've got to keep the ball out the back of the net."

Nathaniel Clyne would have likely slotted in at right-back had he not missed today match through a dead leg.

Gaston Ramirez also missed out with a similar problem - one, though, that Adkins revealed is more problematic.

"Nathaniel has got a dead leg picked up at Everton, which he has not recovered from," Adkins said.

"Gaston's got a similar thing with a dead leg picked up in training on Thursday, but that was quite a serious one.

"The muscle swelled up very much because there was nowhere for the blood to go so there was a lot of pressure on his thigh.

"He has had to have a couple of days in hospital to try and relieve the pressure so obviously he is not going to go and join the Uruguayan team over the international break.

"I would suggest as Nathaniel did not play today he won't be fit to go with England Under-21s as well."

While Adkins was left thankful for a point, Fulham manager Martin Jol was left ruing what could have been.

The Dutchman was left annoyed by Fonte's leveller as he claims Maya Yoshida fouled Kieran Richardson in the build-up to the goalscorer giving away the set-piece.

"It was 100 per cent a free-kick and I know as I remember I thought 'now we are fine, now we have the ball and the pressure is gone'," Jol said

"But he did it as if he didn't see it and two seconds later it was a free-kick for them. That happens and, of course, if it hadn't they wouldn't have scored.

"I wasn't pleased with either goal but I was very pleased with the resilience and character.

"We did better in the second half. We stood up and played like we always did before. We put them under pressure and created more.

"Our better players had the ball and we played football."

Downing hits back at Rodgers

Downing: Hit back at Rodgers

Rodgers called on the winger, who became the fourth most expensive signing in the club's history when he arrived from Aston Villa last summer for 20million, to show "fight" for the cause as the club continued its stuttering start to the season.

But Downing has says he has been hurt by comments he believes should not have been made public.

"I was upset and you'll have to ask the manager what he meant with that quote," Downing said. "I always try my best.

"Bravery is a lot of things. If you want tackling and running around bustling, that's not my game. But bravery is also taking the ball when you're losing and creating things. That's what I try to do.

"I'm disappointed but if that's how the manager sees it, there's not a lot I can do about it. I just have to keep working hard and do what he tells me to do.

"I would have preferred if it was private but that's the way it is. We've had a few conversations and the only thing for me is to k eep working hard and take my chance when I get it."

Sabtu, 06 Oktober 2012

Wenger and Walcott hail Cazorla

Cazorla: Stood out for Gunners

Cazorla scored a stunning left-footed strike after strikes from Olivier Giroud and substitute Walcott had overhauled Mohamed Diame's opener.

And Walcott told ESPN: "He's come in to the Premier League and taken it by storm - he's our conductor.

"His goal was fantastic - I don't even know what-footed he is, to be honest!"

Wenger said: "It was an outstanding performance. If you love football, just watch him play - it's a delight to watch him."

Giroud was relieved to score his first goal since joining the Gunners from French champions Montpellier in the summer.

"I'm so happy to score my first goal and assist my friends in the team," the France striker told ESPN.

"Everyone was talking about this goal, saying 'don't worry, we trust you, keep going, concentrate'. I stayed confident."

Wenger said: "He scored at the right moment, Theo came on and scored and Santi scored a great goal.

"Theo has that in him. One or two year s ago when he got in front of the keeper, he did not always finish the chance."

Reflecting on the result, which had looked in doubt after his side trailed to Diame's superb finish, Wenger said: "I am very happy.

"It was a game at a high tempo, with their first shot at goal they scored and they were dangerous in the box but in the second half we got our game going in a convincing way."

Walcott added: "It's always a tough battle here, West Ham are strong under Sam.

"It was a bit nervy in the first 15 minutes but in the second half we were much stronger.

"We know where we want to be this season, we want to be right up there at the end of the season. We showed, coming back today, that we can definitely have a good push."

Wenger also reserved praise for Walcott after the game.

Walcott, who has yet to sign a new deal with the club and has made it clear he wants to play as a central striker, was introduced in the second half and slot ted home the goal that put the Gunners ahead for the first time.

Wenger has already made it clear that he believes the 23-year-old has the ability to play as the main forward and was happy with his contribution to an important win at Upton Park.

"He is slowly getting there," he said. "You're confident now when he gets in front of goal that he will score. Of course he scored an important one today at a moment where the game was a bit 50-50.

"Theo has an outstanding attitude and I don't rule anybody out. If I did then I would not bring him on in a crucial moment in the game. I believe in him.

"Gervinho looked a bit tired and Theo made the difference. He scored the second goal and that is the most important one."

A small minority of home fans were heard to be directing abusive chants towards Wenger as he stood in his technical area but the Frenchman was quick to dismiss their impact upon him.

"I don't listen to that," he said. "I don't want to talk about that. Stupidity is left to people, it's not my problem. It only punishes those who talk stupid."

West Ham provided a stern test for Arsenal with Andy Carroll returning to the starting line-up following a hamstring injury and he caused several aerial problems for the visitors.

But Wenger felt Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker dealt well with Carroll's threat despite a full-blooded performance from the on-loan Liverpool forward.

He said: "You never can completely control Carroll for 90 minutes. You have to fight for him and be good on the second ball.

"The problem with West Ham is not only Carroll, but (Kevin) Nolan on the second ball in the box.

"We could have been punished once or twice but overall we gave it all to deal well with him.

"He (Carroll) was really up for it I must say. He did fight from the first to the last minute. We did quite well."

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce revealed he did not envisage p laying Carroll for the full 90 minutes as he continues to find his fitness following his lay-off.

But injuries to Guy Demel and Ricardo Vaz Te, with the latter missing for up to 12 weeks with a dislocated shoulder, meant Allardyce had no choice but to keep Carroll on.

"He is okay, he is fine," he said.

"We didn't want to play him for 90 minutes because he has only just come back from that long spell injured and hasn't played that much - but unfortunately our injury plight continued as the game progressed."

"It is a little worrying because we got injuries against QPR and we got three more injuries today, Winston Reid was suffering badly with sciatica but we had used all of our subs.

"Guy Demel came off with a thigh (injury) and Ricardo Vaz Te unfortunately with a dislocated shoulder.

"We are disappointed with the result and disappointed with those injuries we have picked up but I'm not disappointed with the lads' application and perfo rmance.

"We tried our best, it wasn't quite good enough, but we are pleased with our performance and perhaps a little disappointed that we didn't get a draw."

Vaz Te faces spell on sidelines

Vaz Te (right): Set to miss six to 12 weeks

Vaz Te had to be replaced by Matt Taylor just after the hour-mark after falling awkwardly following a challenge with Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce confirmed after the match that the 26-year-old would not be fit to return until after the international break and could be out until the festive period.

"No he won't be right, it will be six to 12 weeks depending," he said.

"We can't get it back so he is going to have to go to hospital to have an anaesthetic put in it to slot the shoulder back into the socket.

"The specialist will determine how long it will take to sort that out so it is a bit of a shame, but we all suffer injuries and we just have to make sure we use the squad we have got."

Baggies hold on to sink Hoops

Gera: Gets a shot away with Park in attendance

Rangers have taken only two points out of a possible 21 and they were always facing an uphill task after early goals from James Morrison and Zoltan Gera.

They showed signs of improvement after Adel Taarabt had reduced the arrears. Youssouf Mulumbu made it 3-1 before an injury-time effort from Esteban Granero again cut the deficit.

QPR defender Anton Ferdinand was booed during the first half by some Albion fans in his first appearance since the full report from the Football Association into the John Terry case was published.

Albion registered their fourth home win, their best start to a top flight season in front of their own fans since 1919.

Steve Clarke's side should have wrapped up the game in the opening half hour and could have doubled their two-goal advantage against a QPR side carved open almost at will during that spell.

Hughes' men struggled to deal with the creativity of Morrison and the pace of Shane Long with Ferdinand and Clint Hill in particular looking uncertain at the back.

But Taarabt, in his first start since the opening day of the season, dragged them back into the game and he demanded close attention from the Baggies back four.

Albion's acting skipper Jonas Olsson received a standing ovation from the home fans before kick-off after signing a new four-year contract - and his side needed only four minutes to go ahead.

Baggies leading scorer Shane Long was too quick for Hill before delivering an inviting right-wing cross. Morrison timed his run perfectly to get behind Ferdinand and direct his header back across Julio Cesar into the corner of the net.

Albion looked sharp going forward and Long missed a golden chance to double their lead in a lightning counter-attack.

Peter Odemwingie picked out the run of Morrison and his cross was perfectly weighted to find Long but from six yards out he fired over the bar.

QPR had no answer to West Brom's first touch football and a shocking error by Ferdinand gifted them their second goal after 22 minutes.

Once again Morrison supplied the ball into the danger area and Ferdinand's attempted clearance fell straight to Zoltan Gera, who made no mistake from 10 yards out.

Albion right-back Gabriel Tamas was booked for bringing down Taarabt before the QPR midfielder gave his side a lifeline with a stunning finish after 35 minutes.

Esteban Granero played the ball into the path of Taarabt on the edge of the box and he brought it under control before volleying past Ben Foster.

But Albion still threatened danger everytime they ventured forward and it needed a fine save from Cesar to deny Gera a second goal.

Peter Odemwingie's defence-splitting pass found the Hungarian international free inside the box but Cesar managed to deflect his shot past the post.

QPR skipper Park Ji-sung was booked in first half injury-time for a lunge at Gera.

Both sid es made a half-time switch with Tamas and Hill replaced by Gonzalo Jara Reyes and Armand Traore respectively.

The visitors showed attacking intent at the start of the second period and Foster held a low drive from the impressive Taarabt.

Morrison had a shot deflected wide but Albion were guilty of sloppy play.

It prompted Clarke to make a double change with strikers Romelu Lukaku and Markus Rosenberg replacing Long and Odemwingie.

Granero had the chance to level matters but sliced his shot wide after more good work by Taarabt.

But Morrison almost capped another top performance with a second goal as his 35-yard drive flashed inches wide.

With five minutes left Mulumbu made it 3-1 after exchanging passes with Jara Reyes - but QPR showed plenty of spirit and Granero reduced the gap again in injury-time with a cool finish.

Adam explains Liverpool exit

Adam: Returns to Anfield with Stoke on Sunday

Adam joined the Potters in the summer after just one season with the Reds and admits playing time was the biggest factor in his decision.

"I want to be a footballer - and that means playing on a Saturday afternoon," Adam told the Daily Mirror.

"I could have stayed at Liverpool and played maybe 15 to 20 times a season, but that isn't enough for me.

"I want to play 30 to 40 times a season.

"For me, playing on a Saturday is what being in his profession is all about and thankfully I'm at a club where the manager wants to use me.

"Obviously I know that I have to perform to stay in the team and I'm happy with that.

"We have good competition here and that is only a good thing for every member of the squad."

The Scotland international has no bad feelings on his return and claims he will always be grateful to former boss Kenny Dalglish for giving him the chance to play for Liverpool.

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it," sai d the 26-year-old. "It will be nice to go back and see a few familiar faces again.

"I was there for a year and it was a special year for me. Playing for a club the size of Liverpool was a real experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

"I'm a Stoke player now, though, and I'm looking forward to going back to Anfield and hopefully getting the three points.

"If we can perform the way we know we can, then we can win the game for sure."

Stoke are notorious for their direct approach but Adam rejects the notion that he has joined a mere long-ball team.

"Everyone labels this club as [playing from] back to front but, believe me, we have players who can pass the ball," said the former Blackpool man.

"We have a lot of quality here and I'm very happy to be part of that.

"I don't think the gaffer is going to change the way he approaches games, and rightly so. What he has achieved in the game with this club is absolutely inc redible.

"Tony's formula is obviously a successful one and he would be silly to try and change it too much.

"When you have a player like Peter Crouch up front, who is 6ft 7in, then why not use him?

"Yes, the new players who have arrived with me will hopefully add that little bit more quality to the team, but it's fundamental that we evolve as a team by playing the way the gaffer wants us to.

"If we do that, then we will enjoy even more success and, if we play to our capabilities, a top-10 finish is certainly a realistic aim for us."

Jumat, 05 Oktober 2012

Moyes: 04/05 side still my best

Moyes: Best start to a season for eight years

Following their 3-1 win over Southampton last weekend, the Toffees are second in the Premier League table with 13 points from their opening six fixtures.

That haul is the club's best from six games at the start of a campaign since they did the same eight years ago - and that term they went on to secure a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds by finishing fourth.

That Everton team remains unparalleled within Moyes' 10-year tenure as far as the Scot is concerned, and while delighted with the way things are going right now, he has stressed that it is only after the full duration of this season that he will be able to properly judge the standing of his present group.

"I would agree that we are in good form, but I think the year that we got to the Champions League, that was probably the best team I've had because of what they achieved, and more importantly, that they did it week in and week out," Moyes said.

"It's okay saying that you are in good form, but we've only played six games in the Premier League.

"What we have to talk about is what those boys have done after 38 games in the Premier League.

"We're in form just now, but let's see if they are consistent and keep it going for the rest of the season."

Tomorrow Everton are at Wigan, who by contrast have already suffered four league defeats this term.

The form guide suggests an away victory is on the cards, but Moyes is not about to underestimate a Latics side he feels manager Roberto Martinez has done a "brilliant" job with over the past few years.

"The statistics are easy to say, but I have to say that every Premier League game is really tough - I've not found one of them which is easy," Moyes said.

"Every game is very close and I think Wigan are a decent team, I really do.

"Roberto has done a brilliant job and that is why he has been linked with different jobs - because of how people see the job he ha s done at Wigan."

Meanwhile, Moyes has been keen to emphasise that while Everton support their winger Steven Pienaar's decision to retire from international football, the club put no pressure on him to make it.

It emerged earlier this week that Pienaar, 30, had opted to bring an end to his South Africa career and speaking about the matter on Friday, Moyes said: "We never discourage players from playing for international teams, not ever.

"I think it is good, especially for a club like Everton, to get as many international players as possible.

"So from our point of view, Steven retiring was nothing to do with us whatsoever.

"It is his own decision and choice. He has got a little bit of a problem with his groins which he has to keep right now.

"It was his own decision and we support him totally if that is what he chooses to do."

Olsson inks new Albion contract

Olsson: Signs contract with Albion until 2016

The centre-half has been a key member of the Albion side which has started the new season so impressively, and his performances have been rewarded.

He was due to be out of contract at the end of the season, but will now remain with the Baggies until 2016 at least.

"This is great news for the club and shows we're heading in the right direction," manager Steve Clarke said of the man who was signed from NEC Nijmegen for 800,000.

"We've had a productive summer in terms of bringing new players in but it's equally important that you hold onto your best players, and Jonas certainly fits into that category."

Olsson has an ever-present record so far this season, helping West Brom to their best ever top-flight start. They also have the joint-fourth meanest defence in the division.

He has 13 caps for Sweden, who he represented at this year's European Championships.

Tavares seals Cottagers switch

Tavares: Signs short-term deal with Fulham

The 29-year-old defensive midfielder worked with Cottagers boss Martin Jol during the Dutchman's spell as Hamburg manager.

Tavares, who spent the 2010/11 on loan at Middlesbrough, joins Fulham following his summer release by the Bundesliga club and has penned a short-term contract at Craven Cottage.

"I'm happy that I'm now officially a Fulham player and I'm looking forward to playing under Martin Jol once more," the Senegal international told the club's official website.

"The players and staff have made me feel welcome and I can't wait to get started with my new teammates."

Speaking about his new acquisition, Jol said: "Mickael is a typical holding midfielder and I'm delighted that we've been able to strengthen this area.

"He played for me when I was at Hamburg so I'm familiar with his qualities and he will prove to be a very good addition."

Wenger: We mustn't rush Jack

Wilshere: Handle with care

The midfielder played his first match for more than a year in the Under-21s at West Brom on Monday afternoon, having been sidelined by a niggling ankle problem and then knee surgery.

Wilshere, 20, is set for another run-out next week against Reading, but Wenger continues to stress it must be a cautious rehabilitation for the 20-year-old.

"Jack needs a few games, progressive build-up to get his body used again to competition, to shocks, to fights, but he is doing extremely well, the situation looks very good," said Wenger, whose side will look to get their Premier League campaign back on track at West Ham following defeat by Chelsea.

"We have to be cautious, not crazy, because of his talent you are always pushed in a situation where you would like to rush him back, and we have to resist that.

"The next match should be next week and he is working very hard.

"The body is like that, when you have been out of competition for 14 months it takes a long time to find your sharpness back. You cannot rush it."

Wenger hopes a steady fitness programme will see long-term benefits for everyone.

"There are three things that are important for every player: the health of the player, the interests of the club and the interests of the national team," said Wenger. "You have to try to combine the three but the most important thing of course is the health of the player.

"[England manager] Roy Hodgson is long enough in the job to know that a player who has been out for 14 months, you have to give him time to play again. When the time comes up, he will play for England again of course."

Hodgson called up left-back Kieran Gibbs, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and forward Theo Walcott for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Right-back Carl Jenkinson was also close to Hodgson's thoughts, with the Gunners now providing a healthy chunk of the England senior squad.

"Ye s [it is a change] because I faced many times of course some questions about that," said Wenger. "I always said that the ideal mixture was to have a basic young squad where 60% comes from this country and 40% maybe from abroad. We get slowly there and we have good young talent from England."

Arsenal head to Upton Park without first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and midfielder Abou Diaby, but are hopeful German centre-back Per Mertesacker can shake off a virus - which would be a boost ahead of facing England forward Andy Carroll, who has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Wenger expects another stern test against the Irons.

"They have a good balance, they are efficient, they are a good mixture I must say between direct play and playing on the ground," he said.

"Technically they are quite sound in midfield, they have Carroll and [Carlton] Cole up front who can go for high balls.

"We know we will have a big challenge there, we know we wi ll only get away with the points if we perform at our best."

Kamis, 04 Oktober 2012

Wootton eyeing United start

Wootton: Could face Newcastle at weekend

Wootton has been catapulted into United's first-team squad thanks to the injury crisis that has already robbed Sir Alex Ferguson of three central defenders, and leaves him at risk of being without a fourth if Jonny Evans cannot shake off the effects of a dead leg.

Wooton made his first senior start against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup and came off the substitutes' bench in Tuesday's Champions League win over Cluj in Romania.

And while Ferguson cannot wait for his fitness worries to ease, Wootton could be forgiven for wanting it to carry on a little bit longer.

"The last week or so has been amazing," said the 21-year-old. "To make my competitive debut in the League Cup and then to come on and play in the Champions League is a great feeling. It's something I'm made up with.

"It is always the way. As a young player, obviously you don't wish injuries on someone, but that's how you might get your chance.

"I got my chance against Newca stle through injuries. It's just the way it is."

Wootton had a rather unconventional route to the United first team in that he hails from Birkenhead and was initially on Tranmere's books.

However, it was not long before Liverpool were showing an interest and he moved to their academy.

United always kept in touch though, and when Wootton hesitated over signing scholarship forms with the Anfield outfit, the Red Devils made their move.

"I wasn't too sure whether I was going to sign (for Liverpool)," said Wootton.

"United invited me down for a week's trial and said they wanted to sign straight after that. It was really good."

Wootton is showing welcome signs of being completed unaffected by the transformation in his status.

He still changed with the reserve players last week at the Carrington training ground, and when United took on Liverpool at Anfield last month he was able to sneak into the visitors' end without anyone taking t oo much notice.

"I was never a Liverpool fan or anything like that, so I just went mad like everyone else when Robin van Persie scored," he said.

How quickly Wootton has gone from cheering Manchester United's latest glamour boy to sharing a dressing room with him.

Yet Wootton insists he is trying to do everything just the same.

"You want to progress as a footballer and these are the next steps," he said.

"For young players at a lot of top clubs the League Cup is where the managers embed them into the team, so obviously I was delighted with that.

"But in all these situations, it would be wrong to do anything different than you would normally.

"Obviously there are some extra special things like the team talks, coming away with the first team and the fans, which are different from what you're are used to.

"But you just try and concentrate on your football just the same."

It is not quite the same though, not when you are having to mark Papiss Cisse, as he did in the League Cup and may have to do again on Sunday.

"Everything is that extra step quicker," said Wootton.

"You've always got to concentrate; you can't switch off for one minute."

Big Sam welcomes Carroll call-up

Allardyce: Happy with Carroll call-up

Liverpool striker Carroll has been named in the England squad to play San Marino and Poland, despite a hamstring injury limiting him to just one start for the Hammers this season.

Allardyce believes a stint with England will improve Carroll's match fitness - providing Roy Hodgson takes good care of him.

"I am glad (he has been called up)," Allardyce said. "Going off to England because he is short on match fitness would be a good thing for us and a good thing for him.

"I will liaise with Roy. Andy is in a position to play for him but (I want them to) just be careful about fatigue because fatigue is what brings injuries.

"Andy's match fitness is a little behind where we would like it to be.

"Helping him to perform for England and catch up on match fitness would be an ideal solution for the pair of us."

Carroll played 23 minutes off the bench against QPR on Monday and Allardyce is weighing up whether to start his on-loan striker against Arsenal on Saturday.

Hammers midfielder Matt Taylor expressed his surprise on Twitter that Carroll was not joined in the England squad by Matt Jarvis, Mark Noble or Kevin Nolan.

Noble produced a man of the match performance in West Ham's 2-1 win at Loftus Road and Allardyce revealed he is on England's radar.

"I think it depends how Mark plays this season," Allardyce said. "I don't think it is about Mark Noble playing for England after three or four good games.

"He has pressed the buttons to alert Roy and his staff to come and have a look at him and see if he continues the good form he has shown in the Premier League up to now.

"There is a transition going on in the England set-up and Mark at 24 is an experienced Premier League player now.

"If he is the public eye and doing well then I think England will continue to monitor him and see how it goes."

Allardyce expects defender Winston Reid, who has been integral to West Ham's promising start to the season, to be fit to face Arsenal after he was knocked out in the win against QPR.

But West Ham are less certain about the fitness of left-back Joey O'Brien, who was forced off with a hamstring injury at Loftus Road.

Baggies pair out of R's battle

Brunt: Picked up hamstring injury at Villa Park

Skipper Chris Brunt and right-back Billy Jones have failed to recover from respective hamstring and knee injuries suffered during the first half of last weekend's 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.

The Baggies are already without first choice right-back Steven Reid (hamstring) and back-up keeper Boaz Myhill (hand).

Northern Ireland international Brunt had only just returned to the side after being laid low with other injury problems.

In addition, winger Jerome Thomas' return to training after various injury setbacks has been curtailed by illness.

But Baggies boss Steve Clarke has challenged the fit members of his squad to effectively fill the gaps.

He said: "We gave quite a positive injury bulletin mid-week but unfortunately this game has come too quickly for some people.

"Myhill, Reid, Jones and Brunt won't be fit. We are missing a few bodies.

"Hopefully it won't affect us at all because we've shown this year that we have a good squad. We've utilised the squad well.

"The players that have come in off the bench have always made a really positive contribution and we hope that will continue this weekend."

Regarding Thomas, Clarke added: "He started training this week but unfortunately the last two days he's been off ill.

"He's had a terrible time since I came here with one injury after another.

"All those have cleared up. Unfortunately he fell ill during the week and we are hopeful next week we can start right from the beginning and get some good work into Jerome."

Striker Peter Odemwingie is available to face QPR after serving a three-match suspension for his red card at Fulham.

But the form of four-goal Shane Long and on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku means the Nigerian international may have to battle for his place.

Albion are bidding to achieve a fourth successive home win at the start of a season for the first time in the top flight since 1919.

Martinez may appeal FA fine

Martinez: Considering an appeal

Martinez was this week found guilty of misconduct by the Football Association over comments which suggested Michael Oliver was biased after his side's 4-0 defeat at Manchester United last month.

The Spaniard, who was angered by a number of decisions in the Premier League game, accepts his remarks could have been interpreted that way but feels he was misconstrued.

Martinez said: "We have had the hearing and now we are waiting (to see) if we can appeal the decision because it is something I don't agree with.

"At the moment it is one of those situations you have to accept but we will look into the written outcome and see if we can appeal it.

"If you see the comments they are not disrespectful comments at all to the referee.

"I wasn't talking about the referee, I was talking about the figure of the referee in those certain games.

"I was talking about the experience that we at Wigan Athletic have had going away from home and unfort unately the calls we have had of late.

"I would never question the integrity of the referee or question if the referee was biased towards a decision."

Martinez said in the aftermath of the game that it felt as though his side were "fighting against a mountain".

United's Danny Welbeck was awarded a penalty early in the game which Martinez felt was "as bad a decision as you are going to see in the Premier League".

He said at the time: "I have come to United three times before today and for whatever reason we don't seem to be measured in the same manner as the team at home.

"In many ways, you feel as though you are fighting against a mountain.

"There were tackles flying around that if they had been the other way round there would have been a couple of red cards."

Wigan expect to receive the written judgement from the FA on Friday and must make a decision regarding an appeal by Monday.

Rabu, 03 Oktober 2012

Agger to play on with fracture

Agger: Has a minor fracture to his kneecap

The Danish centre-half was forced from the field during the closing stages of Liverpool's recent defeat to arch-rivals Manchester United and appeared to be heading for another prolonged spell on the sidelines.

Agger has, however, suffered only a minor fracture to his kneecap and was fit enough to make his return to action in a 5-2 mauling of Norwich City on Saturday.

"I feared the worst when it happened," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"When I tried to get up the muscle in my knee just didn't work. I felt really unsteady and the medical staff thought I had done my ligaments.

"I thought it was a bad one and that I would be out for months. But, thankfully, it was just a really hard knock to the knee.

"I've got a small fracture in the bone but it's only a minor thing. It's not a problem. I only started training again last Friday but I was fine for the Norwich game.

"I felt really comfortable and I'm enjoying it. I think I deserved a bit of luck after the problems I've had in the past."

Agger could soon find himself lining up alongside Joe Cole, with the midfielder closing on a first-team comeback after turning out for Liverpool's U21 side.

Cole picked up a hamstring injury in August but could be welcomed back into Brendan Rodgers' plans for a UEFA Europa League clash with Udinese at Anfield on Thursday.

"It was nice to get out there and play and I felt okay fitness-wise," he said after completing an hour-long run-out in a meeting with Fulham.

"It's always nice to score but I think the main thing for me was really to just get through the game and test myself to see how my fitness is and how my sharpness is.

"I was happy and it's a case of onwards and upwards now and hopefully I can be available for the first team.

"I think the manager will probably assess my fitness and we'll go from there. I need to get back in the first team. I want to be out there playing."

Ferdinand thanks Rangers fans

Ferdinand: Thankful to Loftus Road support

Last month's meeting between the two clubs at Loftus Road was the first encounter between Ferdinand and John Terry on the pitch since the Chelsea captain was cleared by magistrates of racially abusing the Rangers defender in July.

Ferdinand, who snubbed both Terry and Ashley Cole - who testified as a character witness for his England team-mate at the trial - at the pre-match handshake, today expressed his gratitude for the backing he received from QPR fans during that game.

He told his club's website: "They gave me fantastic support and I couldn't have got through the day without them.

"They kept me going. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart."

The 27-year-old is also grateful for the support he has received from his club and team-mates, as well as the fans, adding: "It has been a difficult period for me but the fans have been special, they have been very good to me.

"The club on the whole, the lads and all the fans have given me incredible support. The backing I've been given is something I will never forget."

Terry was cleared in July by Westminster Magistrates Court of uttering the words as an insult, but that did not prevent him being found guilty under FA rules last week.

Terry, who has always denied all charges against him, is still deciding whether to appeal that verdict and has indicated he would wait until he was in receipt of the written judgment before making that decision.

Gerrard still holds title ambition

Gerrard: League title continues to elude him

The 32-year-old is confident he will play on beyond the end of his current contract, which expires at the end of next season, but accepts factors are loaded against him to win the championship.

However, having won every other major club honour since making his debut for his hometown club in 1998 it is not in Gerrard's nature to give up on a Premier League winners' medal.

"It is not easy and it is a frustration but it is life, it is football," the midfielder said.

"This is a very hard league to win and there are some fantastic teams about.

"There are thousands of other players in this league who have not achieved what I have achieved so I suppose they are in a similar position to me saying to themselves 'I haven't got a European Cup' - I've played in two European Cup finals.

"I have done an awful lot in the game and yes, the league has eluded me.

"Some of the games I look back on with frustration and regret are the ones we drew at home which cost us the title (in 2008/09 when they finished second, four points behind champions Manchester United).

"I'm not really one who looks back, I look forward, and I am never going to give up fighting for the title.

"But I'm realistic about where the team is at the moment and how much hard work and improvement needs to be done if we are to compete for it.

"Have I got the time on my side? No. Is it impossible? No. Let's just see how the next two or three years go.

"I know I am good enough to play in a side to win the league and I know I am a good enough player to win the league but sometimes stuff is out of your control."

Gerrard has been at the club since the age of nine and although he had offers to leave - twice turning down Chelsea - he has remained loyal to Liverpool, a decision for which he has been criticised.

"I have no regrets over the decisions I have made," said the England international at the launch of his ne w book My Liverpool Story.

"I am really happy I stayed. I am the captain of the club I love and this club means more to me than any other club out there.

"Of course I'd love a Premier League winner's medal and that may have happened if I'd moved clubs but would that league title mean as much to me as the other trophies I've won here? No - fact."

Since Liverpool ran United so close in 2009 the club's fortunes have taken a significant dip, having finished seventh, sixth and eighth.

That combined with the emergence of other clubs - with Manchester City's spending power winning them the championship last season - has made the Reds' task of regaining a top-four spot, never mind challenging for the title, even more difficult.

"It is no good us worrying about the power of Chelsea and Manchester City," said Gerrard, who believes the club is making positive strides since Brendan Rodgers took over in the summer.

"But there is no two ways about it, if there was no Roman Abramovich (Chelsea owner) or the guy (Sheikh Mansour) who bought Manchester City I'd have two or three league titles sitting here now.

"People who buy football clubs can have too much power for other clubs in the league and that is what has happened.

"We can't compete financially so we need to worry about ourselves and be the best we can be and see where we end up.

"We know what work we have to do ahead: it is going to be tough and other teams in the league as well as City, United and Chelsea are getting stronger.

"It is becoming more and more difficult to finish in the top four but I believe we have the squad and the manager in charge at the moment to certainly push for that and I am confident we can do it.

"If you look at our recent performances we are not far away at all.

"We've not had the results we deserve this season but it is a new set-up, it is not going to click overnight."

Martinez fined for misconduct

Martinez: Fined for Manchester United comments

The Wigan manager was frustrated after his side's 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, during which England striker Danny Welbeck was awarded a controversial penalty following what seemed to be minimal contact from Ali Al Habsi.

A statement on the FA website read: "The charge was in relation to a breach of FA Rule E3 concerning media comments which implied that the match referee and/or match officials in general are motivated by bias and/or brought the game into disrepute.

"Martinez, who had requested a personal hearing, was also warned as to his future conduct."

Speaking to reporters after the match, Martinez said: "You know what he is trying to do. I have come to United three times before today and for whatever reason we don't seem to be measured in the same manner as the team at home.

"Today the penalty is as bad a decision as you are going to see in the Premier League.

"In many ways, you feel as though you are fighting against a mountain. "