• What They Said

What They Said: Wenger delighted, Hughton curses luck

ESPN staff
April 13, 2013
Arsene Wenger was delighted with the turnaround his team produced © PA Photos

Arsene Wenger hailed the fighting spirit of his team after Arsenal scored three times in the final seven minutes to overturn a 1-0 deficit at The Emirates to Norwich.

The Gunners trailed when Michael Turner gave Norwich a shock lead, but a controversial penalty awarded to Arsenal enabled Mikel Arteta to spark the comeback, as the Spaniard tucked his effort away, with Olivier Giroud via Sebastien Bassong and Lukas Podolski ensuring Arsenal would collect the three points.

"I thought we wouldn't give in and we would fight until the end," Wenger said. "No-one could predict we would score three goals but we have great attitude, spirit and desire - and it got us there. We deserved to win but we were against a strong side and needed something special."

The victory for Arsenal has temporarily moved them into third place in the table - above Chelsea and Tottenham. Wenger though is more concerned of keeping Arsenal's winning form going.

"For me what is more important is to keep the run, attitude and focus strong," he added. "We want consistency and that demands huge focus because you can see how quickly you're punished. We're not far away but we just have to keep winning," the Frenchman said.

On the penalty being given after the assistant referee had seen a shirt pull on Giroud by Kei Kamara, and Norwich protesting a corner being given in the lead-up, Wenger said: "Honestly, I have not seen it but people have told me it was a penalty. Television confirmed the penalty. Maybe it was not a corner, but they tell me as well it was not a free-kick [for Norwich's goal]."

Norwich boss Chris Hughton believes his side were on the wrong end of the officials' decisions. "My first thought is that it was not a corner in the first place, but what I am more aggrieved about is there is contact with Kei, but he swivels and plays the ball," he said.

"You have a linesman who makes a decision from 40 or 50 yards away and the referee who is eight yards away and has the perfect view. Their third goal was also offside. I have had a private conversation with the referee, but I am still not convinced."

Everton kept up their hopes of playing in next season's Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, and the Toffees take on Arsenal on Tuesday night with the gap currently at three points to a top-four place.

"I think if we can go and win at Arsenal then I think you might say we've got a chance of being involved in the Champions League,'' manager David Moyes said. "If we don't, I think you're probably going to say that we've got a chance of making the Europa League.

"So no matter what happens at Arsenal, the players have given themselves a great chance. We've been doing it for most of the season. Why would it change in the last five or six games? I expect the players to go and keep picking up victories and trying to win every game if we can."

QPR boss Harry Redknapp felt his side lost belief once they let in the opening goal. "I am disappointed. I thought the first half was going okay, there was nothing in it,'' he said.

"Once we went 1-0 down we seemed to lose a bit of belief. We were indisciplined - kicking the ball away and getting two bookings. But you have to keep going. What else can you do? You can't give up and you have to keep believing but it is getting more and more difficult, obviously.

"It is hard but what can I say? I can't say we are down. If it happens, it happens. The club will have to regroup, have a look at what they have got and go again if that happens.'"

Liverpool could not find a way past the superb Alex McCarthy © Getty Images

Liverpool were thwarted by an outstanding display from Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy as the Reds endured a goalless draw against the Championship-bound side.

"Our players couldn't have done any more. Some of our interchanging and creativity was outstanding," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "Sometimes you have days where the 'keeper makes one or two good saves, but we had 14 shots on target away from home today.

"I know Alex well. He's genuinely going to be a top, top keeper and to perform like that having been out for so long was absolutely staggering."

And Reading boss Nigel Adkins echoed Rodgers thoughts. "All the headlines tomorrow will be about Alex McCarthy. He's put in a fantastic display even though he's been out for a while," he said.

"I'm really pleased with the players, their attitude and application. We've kept a clean sheet and it's fair to say Alex has pulled off some world-class saves. Alex will receive the headlines but I'm pleased with all the players today."

Mauricio Pochettino was not too happy with the weather conditions in Southampton's 1-1 draw against West Ham.

"We had a feeling we could win the game, but were not able to," the Southampton manager said. "We put in a big effort to get the three points and conceded very quickly after we scored.

"It was hard to play on a pitch that was so wet against an opponent that are physically very strong, so overall I think we did a very good job against them. I congratulate my players because they did quite well in conditions that actually favoured the rivals' style of play."

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was delighted with the point. "I am happy with a point in the end,'' he said. "I thought we were more than comfortable. Our away goals have been our big problem all season and I think the chances we created today, it looked like we wouldn't score again."

Aston Villa were pegged back by Fulham after an own goal from Fabian Delph cancelled out Charles N'Zogbia's opener, but manager Paul Lambert felt it was a point gained rather than two lost.

"We played really well. I have got nothing but praise for the performance. We played really well and got a draw. That point could be massive. We're pulling teams right into it. I'm not too disappointed at all with the performance," he said.

Fulham manager Martin Jol was just pleased to see his side hit the magic 40-point mark which will almost certainly keep them in the Premier League next season.

"If you look at the other teams, such as Villa, they would like to swap with us. Since January 1 we've had three defeats and seven or eight wins and draws, so we've done ever so well. I'm a happy customer. We've got 40 points, the results were okay for us today and that's fantastic," the Dutchman said.

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