Martinez has extra satisfaction

first_img It is understood Cardiff owner Vincent Tan has told Bluebirds manager Malky Mackay – the man that guided them to the 2012 League Cup final, the Championship title last term and their current position of 15th place in the Barclays Premier League – to resign or face being sacked. And asked if he could ever envisage receiving a message like that from Kenwright, Martinez said on Friday: “No. Press Association On the subject of finances, Martinez – whose fifth-placed side have lost only once in the league all season – said: “With the finances we have, what we have to do is use them well and be creative with it, and I have no problems whatsoever with that. “I can tell you that the chairman and the board are always supportive and always want to find a way to allow me to do things with the playing staff. “I couldn’t be happier with what we have behind the scenes and the fans should know that. “Sometimes it is all too easy to blame the finances when things are not going too well.” Looking ahead to the forthcoming winter transfer window, Martinez has already indicated he may delve into the market as he bids to find replacements for the likes of midfielder Darron Gibson and forward Arouna Kone, who are both sidelined by long-term injuries. On Friday he also refused to speculate about reports linking him with a loan move for Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha. Martinez then said he had not had any approaches for striker Nikica Jelavic or defender Johnny Heitinga. The pair have been left out of the Toffees first XI for most of the season, but Martinez said: “They are two players with incredible experience and they have been very important day-to-day. “I can understand their frustration and down to the respect for what they have done I will always be helpful and try to understand their position. “They are full internationals and looking to get to the World Cup, so you understand they have to play minutes, but in many ways I would love for them to stay here and play their role as they have been doing until now.” Martinez was speaking at his press conference to preview Sunday’s league trip to his former club Swansea. Everton have James McCarthy back available, with the midfielder having completed his suspension for collecting five bookings this season. On-loan Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu has been ruled out for between six and eight weeks with the hamstring injury he sustained against Fulham, and Tony Hibbert (knee) is not yet ready for first-team involvement again. Fellow defender Leighton Baines is continuing to work his way back from a broken toe, with Boxing Day’s home clash with Sunderland looking likely right now as the point at which he will be able to make his return to match action. Baines trained this week and Martinez said: “We are going to assess how he responds to it. ”I expect Leighton to be available probably, if it is not this weekend, then the week after. ”It is just measuring well that we don’t rush him back too early. But I would say he is not too far away, which is a beautiful Christmas present as you can imagine. ”If he has no reaction, he will be available to play on the Boxing Day, or possibly even earlier. But it just depends on how the next two days show up in his foot.” “I think it is fair to say that that relationship is the most important one in a football club. “I cannot comment about other clubs, because I don’t know the ins and the outs, but probably that makes me even more satisfied with what we have at our club. “I have been very, very impressed with our chairman and I don’t think he has been getting the credit he deserves over the years. “All I have had from him is support.” Kenwright became Everton chairman in 2004, since when the club, in all but two seasons, have secured top-seven finishes in the Premier League under the management of David Moyes, who was succeeded by Martinez over the summer. The Spaniard added: “I think the manager’s position can be a lonely place and you need the support from upstairs, that is clear. “I’m delighted that at Everton, we have that in abundance.” Kenwright has come in for criticism from some Everton fans, with key concerns being the Toffees’ relatively tight budget and the fact a new buyer has not been found for the club. Everton boss Roberto Martinez admits the unfolding situation at Cardiff has made him even more appreciative of Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright, who he feels deserves more credit.last_img read more

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Cheltenham beckons for Dunguib

In what effectively turned into a match, the two principals jumped two out more or less together, but Dessie Hughes’ charge got the better of the argument going to the last and asserted on the run-in to record a clear-cut triumph as the 5-4 favourite. Hughes said: “I’m pleased with that, and he battled when he needed to. ” I don’t know about Cheltenham, he looks an ideal horse for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse and maybe Punchestown after that. ” Foxrock continued his progression in the Ten Up Novice Chase. A Grade Two winner at Naas last month, the Ted Walsh-trained six-year-old was striking again at that level with what was a reasonably last-gasp call over My Murphy, although he might have had a little more in hand than the official margin of half a length at the line. For much of the three-mile journey the Barry Connell-owned market leader (4-6) had shared pole position with Clar Na Mionn and Civena, and they jumped nearly every fence in unison. Foxrock made a slight mistake four out but was soon on an even keel and it was Civena who gave way first. Clar Na Mionn looked like he might take over from the final fence and at one stage My Murphy appeared poised to swamp them both before Danny Mullins’ mount found a late burst to seal matters. Walsh said: “He did what I thought he might do, he always seems to pull out a little bit. ” If he improves over the summer he will be a nice three-miler for next season, they are scarce on the ground. “He stays, he jumps and he handles soft ground. ” Asked about running in the four-miler at Cheltenham, Walsh said: “W e’ll see how he is in three weeks, that’s time enough to make our minds up. That’s where Barry would like to go with him.” It was a double for Mullins in the Connell colours after his victory on the Denis Hogan-trained Inis Meain in the Dunsany Handicap Hurdle. Boylesports cut the 2-1 winner to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, although Hogan said the Coral Cup and Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle will also be in the equation. Willie Mullins was on the mark with Daneking (4-5 favourite) in the Follow Navan On Facebook Maiden Hurdle, but suffered an odds-on reverse when Quevega’s full-brother Vivega could manage only third in the bumper won by Charlie Swan’s Ballagh (12-1). Press Association Philip Fenton has done a wonderful job getting the injury-plagued former Champion Bumper hero back to the track, and the 11-year-old showed he retained plenty of ability when third on his comeback at Naas last month on what was his first run since the 2011 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. He had clearly come forward from that in this Grade Two assignment, moving powerfully towards the rear of the four-runner field through the early stages before taking closer order passing the stands. Dunguib is all set for a return to Cheltenham after a heartwarming victory in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan almost three years to the day since his last win. Jumping the sixth from home in front, Brian O’Connell never really had an anxious moment from there, with 5-4 favourite Zaidpour being cajoled a long way out by Ruby Walsh. The 11-4 chance jumped the last couple of hurdles well in charge and coasted home from Zaidpour, who consented to run on late. Fenton said: “That was lovely, it was a grand performance. He’s not getting any younger, but he looked his old self. We were fairly confident we might be good enough. “He was getting a little bit tired from the last, but we’d be hoping he’d improve from it. “T here’s a good chance he’ll go (to Cheltenham). We’ll see what the handicapper does, we could look at the County Hurdle or the Coral Cup, he got the trip (two-mile-five) well enough today.” RaceBets make Dunguib a 16-1 chance for the Coral Cup. Bright New Dawn claimed top honours in the Flyingbolt Novice Chase. Irish Arkle faller Mallowney bowled along for most of the contest in the hands of Andrew McNamara, jumping well although being rather keen in the process. read more

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Rivals are under pressure – Rodgers

first_img “I believe so,” he said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be where we are, especially as the last two seasons we were eighth and seventh, and it has just allowed us to develop at our own pace. “We go to every game to win but what has been great to see has been the idea and methodology of our work bearing fruit in the game. “There are some great teams up there and world-class managers so we understand it’s going to be difficult but we just do what we can do and see where it takes us. “For us the mantra has always been to focus on the next game, we never get too carried away. “It is very difficult; there’s lots of people dreaming about Liverpool winning the title but for me it is installing in the players that there’s a process, it’s not just about the end result. “It’s been about simple hard work and focus and concentration. There are only 18 points to play for but you can only take three at a time – Upton Park (West Ham next weekend) will be a tough game for us but our confidence and belief is at a good level.” Rodgers said the demolition of Spurs – they have scored nine goals against them without reply this season, which is their best-ever return – proved his players can handle expectations. “I have said all along I feel that when there are pressure situations the players can cope,” he added. “That is what you want, the courage to play. We made it the game it was because of our intensity, our focus, the quality of our football. “We work to deal with pressure, to get on the ball. The players know 100 per cent if they make a mistake I will take the blame.” Spurs boss Tim Sherwood bore the brunt of fans’ criticism after chants of ‘Where is our manager?’ were directed at him as he sat unmoved in the directors’ box all game. He publicly criticised his players following a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month but chose to keep his squad in the dressing room for 45 minutes after the final whistle at Anfield. “They are entitled to have an opinion,” Sherwood said of the away supporters’ chants. “I have sat up there for the last few games and got a better view but it is a learning curve for me. “I am not shirking any responsibility. At 2-0 and the game going away at 3-0 I am going to learn more from my players from sitting up there rather than getting in trouble on the touchline. “You have seen enough of me ranting and raving but I have to analyse it. Our performances against the top four have not been good enough.” Despite being destroyed by Liverpool over two games this season, Sherwood still favours their rivals for the title. “I would still go with Manchester City,” he added. “Liverpool have done a fantastic job, from last season to this is chalk and cheese. They are still in this race. “The players they have in the final third are sensational. They run and graft. If they tighten up a bit I think they have a good chance.” A resounding 4-0 win over Tottenham courtesy of an own goal from Younes Kaboul after just 100 seconds and one apiece from Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson gave the Reds a two-point advantage at the top and enhanced belief they could end their 24-year wait for the title. The last time Liverpool were top of the league was at Christmas but they immediately dropped out of the top four with two defeats to Chelsea and City. But with both still to come to Anfield next month, Rodgers was asked whether they were the ones under pressure. Manager Brendan Rodgers guided his side back to the top of the Barclays Premier League after a three-month gap but insisted the pressure remained with rivals Chelsea and Manchester City. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Aguero: I’m sticking with City

first_img Press Association Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are reportedly eyeing the former Atletico Madrid striker as they look to bolster their ranks this summer, but Aguero has no intention of leaving the Etihad. He told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: “There’s lots of talk about Real Madrid and Barcelona. It’s always the same every year, but the truth is that I’m going to stay at City. I’m very happy and I’m going to continue there.” Sergio Aguero insists he is staying at Manchester City amid speculation linking him with a move back to Spain.center_img The 26-year-old Argentina international has been a huge hit at City since moving to England from Atletico in 2011, and has helped them win two Barclays Premier League titles in three years. last_img read more

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McIlroy aiming for hat-trick

first_img Press Association Six years on the pair have joined 10 members of that beaten side – only Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson have not qualified – in Louisville, with Kaymer the reigning US Open champion and McIlroy fresh from winning his last two events, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the Open Championship. Victory on Sunday took McIlroy back to the top of the world rankings and there are three other European players in the top five in Sergio Garcia – runner-up to McIlroy at Royal Liverpool and Firestone – Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. All four of them, plus world number two Adam Scott, could end the week as world number one if they are holding the Wanamaker Trophy aloft on Sunday, but McIlroy is a hot favourite to deny them that opportunity in style with a third-straight win and fourth major title. The 25-year-old acknowledged fatigue, following his recent exploits, could be a factor by giving himself a day off on Monday, but could do so safe in the knowledge that the 7,458-yard par 71 is expected to play right into his hands. “I feel like the guys who hit the ball high and soft have a distinct advantage because you’re hitting to a small section of the green,” Phil Mickelson said. “Almost every shot into the green is a full shot, bringing it in as high and soft as you can.” The statistics are also on McIlroy’s side, with all three major winners so far this year having won one previously; Bubba Watson won his second Masters title, Kaymer added the US Open to his US PGA win in 2010 and McIlroy completed the third leg of a career Grand Slam by lifting the Claret Jug. Since 1934, there have only been three occasions when all the winners of the year’s majors have been repeat champions. “I think experience and knowing what it feels like to be in that position is a huge thing,” McIlroy said. “It’s a great thing to be able to fall back on and that’s what you’re seeing with some of the guys coming through now. They have got that experience and they have got a little bit more know-how into how to handle that situation better. But they have rarely been in better shape to turn team disappointment into individual glory, in a year which has already produced major champions in Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy. Kaymer narrowly missed out on qualifying for a place on the team at Valhalla in 2008 but was invited by European captain Nick Faldo in order to gain experience of the event, while McIlroy had only turned professional the year before. “It took me a couple of goes to get comfortable with the position of being in the mix in a major in the back nine on Sunday. You need those experiences to try and help you and I think it’s a very important part of trying to close out tournaments, having the experience to fall back on.” The US PGA has produced surprise winners in the past with the likes of Rich Beem (2002), Shaun Micheel (2003) and YE Yang (2009) claiming the title, but the recent trend has seen the cream rise to the top. Since Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley won the last two majors of 2011 when 111th and 108th in the world respectively, the lowest ranked winner of any major has been Ernie Els, who was 40th when he won the 2012 Open at Lytham. Last year, Scott was ranked seventh when he won the Masters, Rose fifth before his US Open triumph at Merion and Mickelson also fifth before his Open victory at Muirfield. Jason Dufner was 21st when he won the US PGA at Oak Hill. So far in 2014, Watson was ranked 12th before claiming his second green jacket, Kaymer 28th before winning at Pinehurst and McIlroy eighth before winning at Royal Liverpool. Now back as world number one, McIlroy is such a strong favourite that Garcia was asked if being one shot ahead of McIlroy on Sunday night would be enough to win. “Obviously’s it not easy to win three times in a row,” the world number three said. “The way he’s playing he might be able to do it. I just want to play as well as I can and the future will tell me where I should end up. “If you’re one shot ahead of him, you should be up there, but I don’t know if it will be good enough. There’s a lot of other great players that are playing here.” Europe’s golfers have returned to the scene of their only Ryder Cup defeat this century for the 96th US PGA Championship, which gets under way on Thursday.last_img read more

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Liverpool look to life after Suarez

first_img “Our ambitions here at Liverpool have to be bigger than one player,” said the Reds boss in relation to Suarez. “He sent us a lovely text this morning wishing us all the best, which was a great gesture. He is a friend now of Liverpool. “I texted him back. It’s a real love in! He’s a great boy but he is gone now. “We do still want another striker but that will depend on the availability. Today was about winning and we got there.” Sturridge’s goal was his 36th in 50 appearances and only George Allan, with 41 in the late 19th century, has scored more goals in his first half century of games for Liverpool. The England forward was the Premier League’s second-highest scorer with 21 after Suarez’s 31 last season and he will be expected to contribute even more this campaign. “For Daniel, it was just a continuation, showing he can get goals,” added Rodgers. “I think that is 36 goals in 50 appearances which is (almost) the best of any striker in Liverpool’s history. That shows the level he is at. The controversial Uruguay international, who joined Barcelona in the summer for £75million in the wake of another biting furore and four-month ban, sent his well wishes to Rodgers and his former team-mates on Sunday morning. His old partner Daniel Sturridge did his best to ensure Suarez will not be missed with the winner 10 minutes from time after Nathaniel Clyne had cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s first-half opener – although Rodgers is still in the market for a top-quality striker. Former striker Luis Suarez may have gone but he has not forgotten Liverpool and he sent manager Brendan Rodgers a good luck message before their opening victory over Southampton at Anfield. “He always looks like he will score. It was a poacher’s goal, one of those where you anticipate a knockdown. “And Raheem’s was a great goal, a great pass, great speed, touch and finish.” Towards the end of last season Liverpool were blowing away opponents at Anfield and finished the campaign with 16 wins and 53 goals in 19 games at home. This performance did not come close to that but it was never really expected after a summer disjointed by the World Cup and the arrival of new signings. “Most club’s pre-season would have been broken with players coming back late in terms of fitness and organisation,” said Rodgers. “We had to grind out a result. It was a tough game and I am really happy with that determination and character. “You know you want to make a good start and that first win can set the tone for you – it certainly did last season. “As the season rolls on, we will get better and more fluent.” Despite the critics predicting a tough time for Southampton after a summer exodus of players and manager they performed well and during the second half looked capable of repeating their victory here last season. “I think we played a great second half, after 1-1 I think there was one team on the pitch playing and it was Southampton,” said new boss Ronald Koeman. “We had a chance to score the second one, two great opportunities but the quality of Liverpool, they don’t need many opportunities to score and that makes the difference. “The way we played today I think brings us a lot of confidence.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Call means Cave’s no longer hollow

first_imgDarren Cave has admitted it is time to “stop complaining and start playing well” after being parachuted into the Ireland side to face Georgia on Sunday. Cave slammed his limited Test chances last year, claiming his “face doesn’t fit” in the Ireland set-up – but is now keen to put his controversial past to bed. “It’s important not to feel sorry for yourself: just keep improving, improving and improving,” said Cave of previous battles for Test opportunities. “The one thing that I probably found most frustrating is that I think I probably have improved a lot since 2009. “When I first got in the squad in 2009 I was just there because I was a young lad, I hadn’t really done a lot but I’d played okay and was maybe someone for the future. “I feel I have improved a lot in those five or six years, and that was probably what can be frustrating. “But now here’s an opportunity for me to stop complaining and start playing well. “I was on holiday last week in New York – I had a good time! “It’s all happened quickly, I haven’t had time to sit and worry about everything – so that’s a good thing.” The Ulster centre spent last week holidaying in New York while Ireland saw off South Africa 29-15 in Dublin, only to be called into the squad on Sunday night. Two weeks ago boss Joe Schmidt told Cave he was omitted from Ireland’s 37-man autumn squad, only to bring the 27-year-old quickly back in from the cold. Ireland head coach Schmidt hotly refuted influencing provincial selection last month, after suggestions the national set-up had urged UIster to switch Jared Payne from full-back to outside centre. Former New Zealand Under-21 cap Payne claimed his first Ireland cap in last weekend’s Springboks victory, but hobbled off in the closing stages with a foot sprain. Payne’s injury has opened the door for Cave’s recall, with Schmidt making 13 changes from the South Africa starting XV for Sunday’s Georgia clash. Payne’s outside centre switch has limited Cave’s opportunities at Ulster this season, but the seven-cap midfielder is keen to lay all his frustration to rest. Gearing up for his first Ireland Test on home soil, Cave admitted he was surprised to be drafted back into the squad on Sunday. “I’ve been around the game a while now and sure, it’s a fickle world, professional sports is the most fickle thing,” said Cave. “If ever I needed a reminder of that it’s been the last couple of weeks. “It was only two or three weeks ago I was on the phone to Joe, talking about how I wasn’t going to be involved in the camp week. “Then I got a phone call from him on Sunday saying come on in to camp and I’m thrown in to play there. “I’m delighted for it; it’s a bit more unorthodox than normal but I’m ready to play, it’s not a problem. “I’ve never been capped in Ireland before, and growing up since I was knee-high watching games at Lansdowne Road, this is a big day for me and my family. “Hopefully I can go well and put all the issues of the past to rest. “There’s been a lot of talking and humming and hawing about who’s doing what. “I just try to play as well as I can when I get the opportunity to play. “I would have liked to have played more for Ulster this year, but there’s been a couple of injuries and a couple of bad strokes of luck. “All that’s forgotten about now: I’m picked to play for Ireland this weekend and hopefully I’ll get a good run-out and give it my all and afterwards I won’t be sitting with any regrets.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Bruce claims Cahill dived

first_imgSteve Bruce accused Gary Cahill of taking a tumble “like something out of Swan Lake” and claimed he should have been sent off as Hull went down 2-0 to Chelsea. Bruce had no arguments with the sending off, but was infuriated Cahill had not gone before that after going down in the box when Chelsea only held a one-goal advantage. The Hull boss, as well as his players, had expected Foy to hand the England defender a second booking, only to be incensed when the referee pointed for a goal-kick. “I’ve just been asked if Cahill should have gone and the simple answer is yes, especially given the referee has already booked two people for simulation or diving,” Bruce said. “Listen, if it is Oscar, Hazard or Willian, they are running at that pace that the smallest connection can bring them over. There is no question about that. “This is England’s centre-half, by the way. For me, it could have been a red card in his first challenge on (Sone) Aluko. That was reckless and dangerous. “So when you come, you expect the referee to do their job. It is difficult enough to come here and, consequently, Tom Huddlestone, who is the most laid back person, is frustrated with the decisions against him and produced a horror challenge which deserves a red card. “But when you come to places like this, then you need them to make the right call. “When you see it back and look at the replays, there’s no justification for it because we all know what he tried to do: he has tried to win the penalty by taking off thinking (David) Meyler was going to challenge him. Jose Mourinho’s men edged their card-laden clash with the Tigers on Saturday as efforts from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa got them back to winning ways in the league. However, the 2-0 triumph was overshadowed by a number of controversial decisions, with referee Chris Foy dishing out seven yellow cards and a second-half red to Tom Huddlestone at Stamford Bridge. “In Latin countries, it’s applauded if you gain a penalty or free-kick. But the reason why people enjoy the Barclays Premier League, for me, is because of the honesty and integrity of it. “We need to stop this horrible simulation which, unfortunately, has crept in. The referees have got a hard job but that wasn’t a hard decision. Not from 12 yards, not from where I was.” Costa and Willian were both booked for simulation at Stamford Bridge, where Bruce conceded the fact Cahill was a home-grown centre-back perhaps swayed the referee it was not a dive. That, he says, should not be the case, especially given the tumble is “like something out of Swan Lake – it’s that blatant”. “If I say what I really, genuinely want to say, then I’ll be hauled up in front of the Premier League again and I’m going to have to pay the 10 grand or whatever it was,” said Bruce, also aggrieved by what he felt was a foul in the build-up to Hazard’s opener. “I think I paid £20-odd (thousand) last year so, before Christmas, I will make sure I button my lips and say p*** all about it and keep my money in my pocket.” Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho claimed not to have had a good enough view of the supposed incidents of simulation, yet still launched a staunch defence of Cahill. “I don’t make (anything of) it because I didn’t see it on TV and I was very far away,” he said. “But I had this question before, from your colleagues on TV and radio, and I don’t believe Cahill dived. “And if you tell me I am wrong because he dived, something happened. Or they blocked his run. Or they touched. Or he lost balance. “But that big, honest guy, I don’t believe he dived in the opposition’s box.” That incident, along with several others, eclipsed what was a solid, if unspectacular win for the Blues. “We didn’t play especially well, but we played well enough for everybody connected with Chelsea – supporters, players, staff – to be calm, because the game was always under control,” Mourinho said. “We never felt really the game in risk, but I have to agree: we had already this season many special performances and today we just had moments of good football, moments of happiness and creativity and dynamism. Just moments. Not for 90 minutes.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Premier League – things we learned

first_img Here, Press Association Sport picks out five things we learned from the games. CECH IS A RUSTY GUNNER The opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League threw up a few surprises and a few questions too. Press Associationcenter_img Petr Cech’s summer arrival at Arsenal was lauded by many as the final piece in the Gunners’ title jigsaw. Cech was a serial winner in his 11 years at Chelsea but his Premier League debut in North London turned into a nightmare as he was at fault for both West Ham goals in a shock 2-0 derby defeat, failing to get to a cross and then beaten from distance at his near post. Arsenal fans will hope that 33-year-old Cech – who made only six Premier League starts at Chelsea last season – is just a victim of rust, rather than the subject of any long-term decline. COUTINHO CAN BE REDS’ MAIN MAN Having lost Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling in the last two summer transfer windows, the big question was who is going to supply the magic for Liverpool? Step forward Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool have spent big in the summer and Christian Benteke drew a blank on his league debut, but Coutinho showed he can become the Reds’ key man when he picked the ball up from deep in the 86th minute and advanced to hit a 25-yard shot into the top corner for a spot of true Brazilian brilliance. UNITED MUST RESOLVE DE GEA DILEMMA No-one was getting carried away by Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham, which again suggested Louis van Gaal is some way from mounting a title challenge at Old Trafford. Three points might have been welcome for the Dutch boss on his 64th birthday but the sight of David de Gea sitting in the stands amid interest from Real Madrid, rather than standing between the posts, added to the feeling of uncertainty at the club. It is a situation United must sort out one way or the other as quickly as possible. SWANS CAN FLY HIGH AGAIN Swansea manager Garry Monk suggested his team had hit their ceiling last season after recording a best Premier League finish of eighth with a record points total. But Thierry Henry might not be alone in suggesting Swansea can improve on last term after their impressive 2-2 draw away to champions Chelsea. Ghana forward Andre Ayew appears to be another signing masterstroke, and in the Ecuadorian Jefferson Montero they might possess one of the most destructive wingers in the league – just ask Branislav Ivanovic. HOPE FOR NEW BOYS Stepping up to the Premier League is notoriously difficult for any side and the shrewd money is on at least one of the new boys being relegated. But there was cause for optimism as Watford drew 2-2 at Everton and they would have taken all three points but for Arouna Kone’s late equaliser. Bournemouth showed enough in their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa to suggest they will be competitive and Norwich might have had some reward in their 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace but for the contentious decision to disallow Cameron Jerome’s effort at 2-1. last_img read more

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Alan Pardew: Crystal Palace are closing the gap behind Manchester City

first_img City have splashed more than £150million on the likes of Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne since they were stunned 2-1 by the Eagles at Selhurst Park last April. The results have been impressive so far with City boasting four wins out of four, without conceding a goal, to sit top of the table ahead of Saturday’s rematch. Press Association Manchester City may have been the Premier League’s top spenders this summer but Alan Pardew insists Crystal Palace are closing the gap. But Palace moved up to second on the back of their win at champions Chelsea a fortnight ago and Pardew, whose biggest summer outlay was £10million midfielder Yohan Cabaye, feels they have an even better chance of beating City’s all stars this time around. “Only a handful of Premier League clubs can spend that money, but we are in that next batch and we are all fighting to catch up,” said the Eagles boss. “You can only play 11 players. That’s one good thing about this game. If we were coming up against City and it was 20 players each then they’d definitely win. But they can only play 11 and our 11 is getting closer to Man City’s, as is Stoke’s and West Ham’s. “Beating Chelsea must enhance our confidence. Our technical ability is now matching our work rate and that makes us a good team. Manchester City will be approaching this game knowing they are up against a good side. “They will be favourites to win and you would expect them to win, but I think they will know we are a bit closer to them than last year. “We won last year, but by the seat of our pants a little bit. At Chelsea we were much more in control and that’s why I think we are in a better place to get a result against City, even though we won against them last year.” Injuries to Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh, and Glenn Murray’s move to Bournemouth, are likely to mean an opportunity in attack for either Patrick Bamford or Dwight Gayle. Gayle appeared to be on the verge of leaving Selhurst Park last month b ut Murray’s departure has given him a second chance, and Pardew urged the 24-year-old striker to grab it with both hands. “Glenn leaving gives Dwight an opportunity and he is now in the process of trying to take that,” added Pardew. “He’s trained very well. Dwight’s very much a part of our family and hopefully we can give him more game time b ecause that’s been part of the frustration. It’s not like we wanted to move him on, the frustration came from the player himself. “But with Glenn going, the opportunity has come for him to make a statement.” The Eagles will also be without right-back Joel Ward, who faces a month on the sidelines with a knee injury. last_img read more

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