Martinez: Survival for Wigan would be like winning the title

4 May 2013 21:22

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez says that clinching Premier League survival would be like winning the title for his side.

Wigan twice came from behind to beat West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns, and after the game Martinez underlined what the result meant to his team.

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We don’t

escape, he said.

As a football club, we win the title every time we stay in the league and that’s a very different approach.

Martinez then went on to praise the spirit of his side, as second-half goals from James McArthur and Callum McManaman saw them seal the points after Gareth McAuley had

found the net for West Brom.

Wigan had already come from behind in the first half, with Arouna Kone’s header

cancelling out Shane Long’s opener.

Our performance

was full of character, said Martinez.

We had a very slow start. To come back twice from behind, I couldn’t be prouder of the

performance of the players.

“[It] wasn’t the best performance that we’ve had but what pleased me is that we forced our

win. That’s down to the character and the determination that the team has.

It would have been a big mistake today to try and sit back for a point. I’m pleased that the

players showed incredible focus and concentration in the last ten minutes.

Martinez had reacted to McAuley’s goal by sending on Roman Golobart and McArthur, and the substitution proved inspired as the latter scored with his first touch of the

ball to level the scores.

James McArthur

was the best player for us against Spurs, Martinez said.

I knew that the game would need energy and would need a second injection of blood. He didn’t understand that before the game but his first touch changed the game

completely.

Shaun Maloney, who set up both second half goals in another impressive display, also came in

for praise from Martinez.

He added: “Shaun Maloney has been the most consistent player for us; he brings a real enjoyment in everything he does. He’s so clever the way he uses the space and he’s a real engine for us in everything we do going forward.

The only negative for Wigan was Jean Beausejour being carried off on a stretcher with a hamstring injury, and Martinez admitted that the situation did not look promising ahead of next week’s FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Jean has pulled his hamstring so it doesn’t look great now, he said.

These sort of injuries are usually ten days but we’ll see if we can get some magic hands on

him.

Borini prepared for ´intense´ derby

4 May 2013 21:16

Fabio Borini is hoping to make up for his personal derby disappointment when he meets rivals Everton for the first time as a Liverpool player on Sunday.

The Italian was part of the Roma side that was beaten by local rivals Lazio 2-1 in the Rome derby last season, despite getting on the scoresheet.

But the 22-year-old is looking to draw on his experiences of that fierce encounter to give Liverpool fans bragging rights on Sunday in what he acknowledges is a hugely important game.

“It means more for the city, the club and the fans,” Borini told the club’s official website.

“I scored in last year’s derby at Roma and I could see people all week – and actually the rest of the season – remembering that goal because it was the derby and against the enemy.

“For us, it’s an important goal because you see everyone happy for weeks because you scored in the derby. But what we look at is the result and the performance.

“But they were happy with our performance and fighting – that’s the derby, you need to show the fight and desire to win.”

The striker admits he was well aware of the size of the game before moving to the club and remains confident of victory and narrowing Everton’s league advantage.

“I was aware of two teams in Liverpool – obviously Liverpool have always been ahead of Everton,” he added.

“This year is a strange derby because they are ahead of us; we’ll try to make the gap closer and finish ahead. It will be a very intense derby and I hope it will be a good game.”

Borini ended an eight-month wait for a Premier League goal after netting in the 6-0 demolition against Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday, and he now hopes to add to his tally in the club’s remaining games after enduring a frustrating season with injuries.

“After that goal [against Newcastle] I was really happy because I was looking for it for eight months from the beginning of the season,” the Italy international added.

“It was great to score after all these injuries. Here at Melwood [Liverpool’s training ground] they were all happy so it was a really good feeling.

“After everything I’ve been through this season – the injuries, operations, coming back and being injured again were a big frustration for me to not play and help the team – that goal gave me the confidence for next season and showed to the people what I could do if I wasn’t injured.”

Morgan ´truly sorry´ as Wolves suffer back-to-back relegations

4 May 2013 20:57

Wolves chairman Steve Morgan has apologised to fans following the club’s relegation from the Championship and warned of a player exodus.

Dean Saunders’ side went into the final day of the season on Saturday needing a footballing miracle to have any hope of staying up, but their fate was sealed thanks to a 2-0 defeat at Brighton.

Successive relegations is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for Wolves, with Morgan vowing to restore pride as the club prepares for life in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1989.

“As chairman of the club I take my responsibilities very seriously; we have failed our supporters, and the city, and for that I am truly sorry,” said Morgan in a statement.

“We are all looking at ourselves in the mirror and reflecting on what went wrong. It is only right the players do the same. Many of them know they have not performed to the standards they are capable of and they must take their share of the responsibility.

“Clearly a lot of mistakes have been made over the past two seasons. Although every decision has been with the club’s best interests at heart, we have clearly got some of those decisions wrong.

“I understand the fans’ pain, anger and resentment towards me, the board and the players, especially within the context of successive relegations. It’s not been good enough and we must improve both on and off the pitch.

“Next season is going to be very difficult. However, we will face the task of League One football with utmost determination and humility; we will do our very best, compete in every league match and fight our way back.

“We must restore pride and passion into the team, rebuild our reputation and regain the trust and support of our fans.

“Quite naturally a number of players will leave in the summer, but they will only go if it is right for the club. Perhaps we should have moved more players on in the past two seasons, but we honestly expected this group of players would be good enough to be successful in the Championship.”

Laudrup targets top-10 finish for Swansea

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has set his sights on a top-half Premier League finish after the 0-0 draw with Manchester City.

Even after the break when the visitors rallied, Swansea still created good chances to win the game but they were not able to beat City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Despite the lack of goals, Laudrup was more than happy with the point and a clean sheet as they look to end their second season in the Premier League on a high.


“I’m pleased

with a draw and we stay ninth with a game in hand,” he said.

“One more win should

now see us finish in the top half and that would be a fantastic

achievement.

“We played some very good football in the first half, but if you don’t score in your good moments there is a danger that the opposition could punish you.”

Having faced one FA Cup finalist on Saturday, Swansea now meet the other on Tuesday as they travel to the DW Stadium to face Wigan, and Laudrup knows it will not be an easy game as Roberto Martinez’s side are battling for survival at the bottom of the table.

Laudrup also reassured other sides fighting with Wigan that he will field the strongest side he can for the game, although that will not include Michu after

the Spaniard limped out of the game in the 69th minute with a hamstring injury.

“It will be a hard game for us [against Wigan],” he added.

“I know they have the cup final coming up, but their Premier League life is to play for. They will come with all they have.

“I’ll put out a good team because we all want to win.”

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Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund 1 Bayern Munich 1

4 May 2013 20:44

Borussia Dortmund and 10-man Bayern Munich drew 1-1 in an ill-tempered match at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

First-half goals from Kevin Grosskreutz and Mario Gomez ensured the sides earned a point apiece. The hosts, though, could have secured a victory from the penalty spot in a second-half marred by Rafinha’s sending off, but Robert Lewandowski’s effort was saved.

Jurgen Klopp made five changes from the side that lost to Real Madrid in midweek, with Marco Reus and Mats Hummels being the most notable absentees, while seven of the Bayern Munich players who beat Barcelona 3-0 were rested.

Bayern enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but it was Dortmund who took the lead after 11 minutes as Jakub Blaszczykowski crossed from the left and Grosskreutz arrived at the far post to volley past Manuel Neuer.

Three minutes later, Dortmund felt they should have been awarded a penalty as Ilkay Gundogan went down under pressure from Jerome Boateng, but the referee gave nothing before the German midfielder was replaced by Moritz Leitner due to an injury.

The visitors appeared to lack urgency in the final third, but it did not take long for them to draw level as Gomez headed Rafinha’s cross into the far side of the goal after pulling away from Neven Subotic 23 minutes in.

Robert Lewandowski had a quiet first half-hour, but soon after he sparked into life as he surged down the left, holding off Rafinha as he ran before beating Boateng and shooting for goal, but Neuer rushed out and deflected the Pole’s shot behind for a corner.

Bayern should have added a second in the closing stages of the first-half as David Alaba beat two players in the centre and slipped the ball through to Gomez, but his shot squirmed under Roman Weidenfeller and bounced over the bar.

The second-half began at fierce pace as Blaszczykowski sliced a left-footed shot wide from inside the Bayern area, while, at the other end, Claudio Pizarro had a penalty shout turned down after being brought down by Subotic.

Just before the hour mark the hosts were given the chance to retake the lead from the penalty spot as Nuri Sahin’s shot struck the hand of Boateng, but Neuer got down to his left and denied Lewandowski from 12 yards.

Bayern were the recipients of more bad news four minutes later as Rafinha received a red card for elbowing Blaszczykowski in the face. To make matters worse, the Brazilian did not leave the pitch quietly as a brawl ensued before Klopp exchanged words with both the right-back and a member of Bayern’s coaching staff.

Further petulance followed as Lewandowski and Boateng went head-to-head just outside the penalty area, but on this occasion the referee decided against issuing any cards.

Julian Schieber had a great chance to grab a winner late on as he got on the end of Marco Reus’ pass, but his first touch was poor, giving Neuer the chance to collect, while Sahin headed wide in stoppage time as the Champions League final rehearsal ended level.