Walker relishes Villa reunions

25 December 2012 04:27

Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker will reunite with some familiar faces at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

The Spurs star spent time on loan at Villa Park in 2011, where he worked with some of the youngsters who now make up the core of Paul Lambert’s Villans team.

“A lot has changed since I was there, obviously the manager, and a lot of the players,” Walker told the north Londoners’ official website.

“But I did play with a lot of the youngsters there like Andreas Weimann, Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton and Matthew Lowton.

“They are young, energetic and hungry to win games.

“They’ve proved they can dig in at Villa Park. I watched the game against Manchester United (on November 10, when Villa let slip a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2) and the result just didn’t go their way.

“It will be difficult but we need to play the way we’ve been playing and I’m sure we’ll get the right result.”

Evans primed for Newcastle threats

25 December 2012 04:21

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is wary of the aerial threat posed by Newcastle strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Boxing Day and, with the Senegalese pair having 15 Premier League goals to their name this season, the centre-back expects them to cause problems.

“They are both very powerful,” he told the club’s website.

“What Newcastle do very well is work the ball wide and put it in the box. They don’t give you a minute and those two are powerful lads.

“A lot of their goals come that way, when they beat people in the air and the ball is floating around in the box. The goal record between them is what got Newcastle to the position they finished in last year (fifth).”

The Red Devils lost 3-0 to Newcastle last season but set the record straight with a similar scoreline in their favour in October.

“In the last couple of seasons we’ve gone away to places like Newcastle and either lost or drawn,” Evans said.

“We knew how well Newcastle played in the previous season. They had Ba, Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, who can really hurt you.

“But we went there with the right mindset and defended well. We had great shape and got two early goals. It was probably one of our best defensive performances of the season.”

With club captain Nemanja Vidic back to full fitness, the Northern Irishman is aware that he could lose his place in the team but remains upbeat.

“It’s healthy for the manager and the squad to have Nemanja back,” he said.

“If you manage to keep the captain out of the team, so be it, but if the manager wants to play Nemanja Vidic you can’t really complain at that.

“You just have to be the best player you can be and if the manager picks you at the weekend you accept that. If he doesn’t, you accept that too.”

Bale proud of ´unlucky´ Spurs

25 December 2012 04:15

Tottenham winger Gareth Bale feels that Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City was not a true reflection of their performance.

The Potters frustrated Andre Villas-Boas’ men with their ninth clean sheet of the season despite Spurs having over five times as many shots on goal.

“We were on the front foot for most of the game but it was difficult,” Bale told the club’s official website.

“They didn’t have too many chances, we had most of the possession and most of the opportunities.

“It was a bit disappointing not to get the win because we deserved it overall but it’s a point, we move on and we now look to Aston Villa (on Boxing Day).”

Next opponents Villa were battered 8-0 by Chelsea on Sunday but had previously been on a six-game unbeaten run.

“(Manager) Paul Lambert has done really well,” Bale said.

“He’s built a new team and they are gelling together well and starting to play some good stuff now.

“It will be difficult, as it always is at Villa Park, but it’s a game we’re looking forward to and we’ll aim to get the three points.”

Martinez backs Williams in van Persie clash

25 December 2012 03:59

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has defended Swansea City’s Ashley Williams following his clash with Robin van Persie.

The Wales international defender made a clearance just a few steps away from Manchester United’s Dutch striker in the 1-1 draw between the two sides on Sunday, powerfully striking the 29-year-old on the back of the head with the ball while he was on the ground.

Van Persie was furious and Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson suggested that the former Arsenal star ‘could have been killed’.

But Martinez, who signed Williams while in charge of Swansea in 2008, insisted that the collision was unintentional.

“I know the character inside out and I can guarantee you, without looking at the incident, that he’s not a nasty footballer,” Martinez told reporters.

“He’s a winner and he’s fully committed and he’s a leader and a captain but I don’t know for one second … I doubt that he did that on purpose.”

Williams cleared over van Persie incident

25 December 2012 03:21

Swansea’s Ashley Williams will not face any disciplinary action for kicking a ball at Robin van Persie in Sunday’s Premier League clash.

Williams kicked the ball into van Persie’s head from close range with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claiming the blow could have killed his star striker.

The Dutchman reacted angrily to the incident and both he and Williams were booked by referee Michael Oliver.

But Williams will face no further action for the incident with the FA also confirming Ferguson will not face censure despite his outlandish claims after the match.

“In the van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed,” Ferguson said after the 1-1 draw.

“The FA has got to look into it regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many years.”