- What They Said
What They Said: Bale not leaving Tottenham
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted Gareth Bale will not be tempted away from White Hart Lane following Saturday's match-winning display against Newcastle.
Bale scored both Tottenham goals in a 2-1 victory that boosted their top-four hopes, further enhancing his reputation with Real Madrid linked to the Wales international. Villas-Boas, though, says he has spoken to the player and is convinced he will not depart in the near future.
"No. I spoke to him about this at length," Villas-Boas told Sky Sports. "We are fortunate to have players of this dimension who can decide games. He's enjoying his football through the middle. Today he started where he finished the second half against West Brom. We gave him the same freedom. When a player feels good about the position he enjoys it more."
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew predicted the Magpies will avoid relegation this season, although he is hopeful Saturday's goalscorer Yoan Gouffran does not face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"His shinbone looks sore. It's fingers crossed," Pardew said. "We don't want to lose him, he's only just come to the club.
"They started really fast, but after that we dug in and played some good stuff. It was an even game really other than after that second goal which opened it up. I was pleased with the performance but not the result. We should be all right now."
Rafael Benitez had little light to shed on the future of both himself and Frank Lampard after the midfielder scored in Chelsea's 4-1 win over Wigan. Lampard got the third on an afternoon that also saw Ramires, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin on the scoresheet.
"I didn't see the papers, I was just concentrating on the game," Benitez told Sky Sports, regarding reports he would be sacked if Chelsea lost to Wigan. "I think they are just speculating - they have no clues, it is just talk and talk.
"As I have said it is not my decision [about Lampard], I have said I am trying to improve him if possible because he is a great professional, he is scoring a lot of goals for us, so I am pleased for him. He is doing well as I said before, hopefully he can score 20 goals - he can score a lot of goals for the team so we are really pleased."
Roberto Martinez remains convinced Wigan will beat the drop after his side's spirited performance at Stamford Bridge.
"We were always in the game. I think there were a couple of late goals where we left ourselves exposed because we wanted to get something out of the game, but we were well in the game and always looked dangerous at 2-1. In many ways I thought we showed many good things that will help us in the next 12 games."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger pleaded with referees to give Jack Wilshere the protection he deserves after a bruising 1-0 victory at Sunderland. The Frenchman was unhappy with a series of hefty challenges on his players and in particular some of the treatment handed out to the England midfielder, who limped off in the second half.
Asked if he was happy with some of the tackling on show, Wenger said: "No, I wasn't, especially on Jack. I was a bit frustrated because I thought many times, Jack didn't get the free-kick he deserved. The referee let two or three things go that I thought were fouls on Jack. I want just the referee to give a foul when it's a foul. I don't want any special protection."
Martin O'Neill was left scratching his head after seeing his team come up only just short to Santi Cazorla's winner.
"It was a great game from start to finish. The tempo was very high early on and it remained so. Obviously Arsenal, a top-quality team, caused us a lot of problems in the first half but I also thought we looked dangerous as well. But in the second half, we just came roaring at them, and that was even before the man had been sent off. Seriously, looking back at a couple of the chances, I just don't know how we didn't score.''
Michael Laudrup admits Chico Flores could miss Swansea's Capital One Cup final date with Bradford after suffering an ankle injury in the emphatic 4-1 win over QPR.
"We have to wait to see if it is only a twisted ankle or it could be more damage with the ligaments," Laudrup said. "We have to wait for the scan but if it is ligaments he would definitely be out of the final. We will see first if there is anything that needs surgery, the more things we can exclude right now the better. If it is ligament damage we need to see how bad it is and make a decision from there.''
Defeat means QPR, who were again without Loic Remy, remain rooted firmly to the foot of the Premier League table, still six points adrift of safety with 12 games remaining. Remy was not risked due to a groin injury, but Harry Redknapp revealed goalkeeper Julio Cesar had played with a similar injury.
"We gave some bad goals away, I can't look at them and say they were particularly good, there were some bad errors today. Our keeper has been fantastic, probably as good as any goalie in the league, but he played with a groin strain because he felt he was okay but obviously he wasn't at his best today. He felt he was fine and I can only go by what he tells me, I was told he was okay. He had a problem kicking and obviously when we passed the ball back he got himself under pressure."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis would have been "absolutely devastated'' if his side had been denied their first Premier League victory of 2013 against Reading, who they eventually beat 2-1.
"It has been a long time," Pulis said after goals from Robert Huth and Cameron Jerome. "I thought we deserved to win the game - I would have been absolutely devastated if we hadn't won the game today. After the first half I thought we deserved to be coming in leading, but we just picked the pace up and the two subs (Jerome and Kenwyne Jones) made a great difference again. Cameron Jerome is a great impact player and he scored a great goal.''
Reading boss Brian McDermott had no doubt what he thought about a late penalty claim when Adam Le Fondre went down in the penalty area.
"Once we got to 2-1, I thought we would get it (a draw), and unfortunately the ref has missed a penalty at the end, the last kick of the game,'' McDermott said. "He got hold of the ball, flicked it by him and he caught him. It was a stonewall penalty. I've just gone in to see [the referee] and he didn't see it that way, so that's fine, but I thought it was."
Martin Jol felt the need to explain his starting XI after Emmanuel Frimpong and Stanislav Manolev made their debuts in the 0-0 draw at Norwich.
"We had to play a different side," Jol said. "Sascha Riether was ill yesterday, Chris Baird this morning. I wanted to play Urby Emanuelson, but that would have meant that we had three players playing for the first time. At this stage of the season, that is not what you want."
Chris Hughton also spoke of the Norwich line-up, revealing Grant Holt pulled out on the morning of the match.
"I think we have to look at the positives. Certainly we are a lot tighter as a unit and are obviously not conceding the goals," he said. "It's a home game and we were hopeful. We had some disappointing news this morning with Grant Holt, who pulled out with a back spasm, which hurt us a little bit. We had to change our plans and thoughts going into the game. We now have a two-week break and we look forward to coming back refreshed for another home game against good opposition in Everton."