“Tuesday is an important game again at home so we have to keep fighting and try to get three points.” Arsenal could have Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky available again after he missed the Norwich game with a hamstring problem, which could see Jack Wilshere rested. Wenger must also decide whether to recall Mertesacker or stick with his captain alongside Laurent Koscielny. Full-back Nacho Monreal was on the bench at the weekend, and could return in place of Kieran Gibbs, while Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski – who scored the third goal in stoppage-time – are all pressing for a place in the starting XI after impressive substitute displays when they came on to help change the Norwich game around. German forward Podolski, 27, has seen his recent impact limited by injury as well as being utilised more from the bench by Wenger. Despite stories linking the £11million summer signing from Cologne with a swift move away from the club, Podolski, who has 14 goals this season, maintains he is enjoying life at Arsenal. Speaking to the official Arsenal matchday programme, he said: “I did well earlier in the season, then had an injury which put me out for a few weeks, however now I am back and hope to play a big part in the final run of matches – but it is the coach’s decision, of course. “Overall I am happy. You must remember I came from a team [Cologne] that was going down, and it wasn’t so easy to come straight to a big club and be strong. But I believe I have the quality to play in every game here and think I have done well until now. “I have scored some goals and made assists, so I am content, but I will be happiest if we can make the Champions League, because every player – and every team – wants to play at that level.” Press Association Captain Thomas Vermaelen has challenged Arsenal to maintain their momentum towards securing a top-four finish with victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. The Gunners produced a late rally to come from behind and beat Norwich 3-1 on Saturday, which lifted them into third place as neither Chelsea nor Tottenham were in Barclays Premier League action. It was a fifth straight win on the back of their Champions League victory away to Bayern Munich – an heroic performance which looks to have restored the belief within Arsene Wenger’s squad. Vermaelen, recalled to the side against Norwich as Per Mertesacker was suspended, called on Arsenal to make the most of their new-found spirit when David Moyes’ well-drilled side come to the Emirates Stadium. “We are on a run now. We have got a good momentum at the moment. We are winning a lot of games,” Vermaelen said on Arsenal Player.
The Spaniard has signed a four-year contract to take over from Manchester United-bound David Moyes, and while he sees similarities with his other jobs in football, he knows this one is different. “I know what it means to play for this club in terms of the amount of families (involved) and passion which comes across, so I understand how honoured I am to have this position,” said the 39-year-old, who left Wigan after four years. Press Association “I can’t describe it but when we (Wigan) played here in the quarter-final of the FA Cup (winning 3-0), there was a feeling that you can develop and know you belong and, funnily enough, now I can start exploring it and finding out what the fans want. “It is very important in modern football not to lose the real values in the modern game and it is important to understand the fans, and Everton have really strong football values with an incredible passion. “When I arrived at Goodison, I got that feeling right away. I know I can fit in quickly and feel part of it straight away.” Martinez is confident he can retain the club’s in-demand stars, like midfielder Marouane Fellaini and England left-back Leighton Baines, and fulfil a Champions League dream. “In the game when you are successful – and Everton were clearly successful last season – you will always get good performers who attract interest from other clubs,” he said. “That not only happens here, it happens at every football club in the land and abroad, so we’re not worried about that.” Kenwright has already promised to back his new manager as best he can financially this summer “I’ll give him a few quid to spend. The others are not for sale. We don’t want them to go, they have worked massively hard for this club,” he said. “Roberto doesn’t want them to go, he has all their numbers and he will be on the phone asking them not to go. Not one person has even half-indicated they want to go.” New manager Roberto Martinez already feels at home at Everton and believes he is privileged to have the opportunity to take charge of the club.
“Romelu is the type of striker that influences everyone around him because of the gaps he creates. Other players around him become a threat,” Martinez said. “The goal is everything that typifies him – the character and desire to want to be successful. That’s why he will be such a big asset. “He’s a very intelligent footballer and I want him to continue enjoying his football because his potential is incredible.” Lukaku was knocked out briefly in the act of scoring after clashing heads with Joey O’Brien but Martinez – who confirmed he cannot be recalled by Chelsea – dispelled any concerns over his health. “For a second we were worried, but after 10-15 seconds he was fine,” he said. Everton equalised twice through the dead-ball skills of Baines, who beat Jussi Jaaskelainen twice with free-kicks. “We are well aware of the quality Leighton has. The first free-kick shows that,” Martinez said. “Where he takes his quality to the next level is by scoring with a completely different type of free-kick. That’s what makes him special. “Many players around the world are good at free-kicks, but he’s able to do it a second time. Leighton places the ball wherever he wants at that distance. I think he’s unique.” West Ham boss Sam Allardyce identified Lukaku as the difference between the teams, but also felt that Mark Noble’s red card was a turning point. Shortly after firing West Ham ahead with a penalty, Noble was sent off for hauling down Ross Barkley, giving Baines the chance to drill home his second free-kick. “Right up until Mark Noble getting sent off I thought the players were great. We played against a very good side and we matched them,” Allardyce said. “But we found a different Everton side once Lukaku came on – he made a huge difference to them. “We had to make sure we controlled that situation, which was Everton getting more and more in the attacking mould because playing off him was more difficult for us to cope with. “It is frustrating as we are disappointed to have lost it. It’s easy for me to say Mark Noble played the ball, but I think he did.” Press Association Everton manager Roberto Martinez backed Romelu Lukaku to take Goodison by storm after watching the Belgium striker inspire a 3-2 Barclays Premier League victory over West Ham. Leighton Baines may have struck twice with two brilliant free-kicks in the second half, but it was the half-time arrival of debutant Lukaku that transformed Everton into match-winners. The 20-year-old, on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season, nodded home the 84th-minute winner but his overall contribution was just as crucial.
The win moves Tottenham up to fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool as Sherwood, who opted against sticking with a 4-4-2 formation here, remained unbeaten in the Premier League since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas. Sherwood, who admitted Swansea should have had a penalty for Dawson’s push on Bony when the game was goalless, has been delighted by his start as Spurs boss since signing an 18-month deal. But he is in no doubt as to what is expected of him when it comes to the London club’s finishing position. “It’s been good, we know there are going to be tougher tests ahead, but it’s been a good start for me,” he said. “If the season were to end tomorrow I don’t think the chairman (Daniel Levy) would be too happy because we are fifth. “The final league position has to meet the expectation of the club otherwise it’s ‘goodbye Charlie’. “The club needs to finish in fourth place, we want to finish in fourth place. Anything other than that will be a disappointment but realistically we should be in amongst it.” Adebayor has now scored six goals in seven appearances under his new manager, but Sherwood insisted the striker’s revival is not down to him. Tim Sherwood saw his Tottenham side beat Swansea 3-1 to record a fifth win in six Premier League games, but knows his job will be on the line if he does not deliver Champions League qualification. Emmanuel Adebayor headed Spurs in front in the 35th minute and then tapped in their third after a Chico Flores own goal had doubled the visitors’ lead. Wilfried Bony hit the bar and had a good penalty appeal for a push by Michael Dawson turned down in the first half, before getting Swansea’s consolation late on. “I haven’t said anything to him, I have just given him the stage to play on, he hadn’t had that stage for a while,” said Sherwood. “I haven’t made Emmanuel Adebayor a good player, I think we already know he has been a good player at every club he has been at. “We just needed to get some consistency out of him and I am sure if he continues to enjoy playing he will keep performing well. “He is enjoying it, if you enjoy yourself playing football you will get the best performances out of yourself. “He is no different to anyone else. He has a smile on his face, is scoring goals and is enjoying it. “We are trying to encourage the boys to roll the ball into him because he makes things happen. He dictates the pace of the game for us and he likes to get it wide as he knows there is a chance he can score from the cross. “After his first goal he grew even more and started dominating the game for us. But there’s been no magic wand from me. He has always been a good player.” Swansea, meanwhile, remain just three points above the relegation zone after another defeat and another injury, as Jonjo Shelvey’s hamstring problem saw him join Michu, Michel Vorm, Pablo Hernandez, Jonathan de Guzman, Nathan Dyer, Jose Canas and Garry Monk on the sidelines. Their injury woes and the alarming manner in which they faded following Adebayor’s opener will be very troubling for manager Michael Laudrup, who admitted his side are in a difficult spot having failed to win in eight league games. He said: “Everything is black and negative right now. Let’s start again tomorrow or the day after and see if we can get some players back to fitness and back in the team. “Then it is a matter of getting a win, like with a lot of teams in our situation. “Even if it seems a dark, difficult moment for us, we can say the other teams are still there around us. “We just need a little more luck in certain situations.” Press Association
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insists he is relaxed about the club’s current situation and has stressed he “fully intends” to remain as manager, regardless of who owns the midlands outfit. “But I fully intend to be here. That’s me being totally honest. “If people come in, you sit with them and see what happens. If not, you sit with Randy, which I tend to do at the end of the season.” Both on Sunday and in a statement released a few days earlier following the suspension of assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa, Lerner appeared to express sympathy for Lambert, referring to the manager’s handling of “unexpected issues” and the injuries that his squad has been hit by this season. Lambert, meanwhile, has expressed his frustration at the “position of mediocrity” he feels the club have been in stretching back to before his arrival, and the need for future investment – although he also says he would not change the experience he has had so far with Villa. He said on Thursday: “With the size of this football club, with the fanbase it’s got, I never came here to sit like this. It’s been like this for the last four years. “But it’s been an incredible experience these past two years. “Would I have changed the experience? No. Because it will make you stronger. “The lads have always given me everything they have. I don’t think anyone can argue with that. We have had our ups and downs. “But this football club has been in a position these past four years of mediocrity. That’s the bottom line. “It will need investment, that’s for sure, to compete at the top end. “The football club will need a kick-on. “I think Randy has been brilliant with that since he’s been here. He’s been excellent with me on that side of it. “But if you’re going to go and buy players – the ones I have been linked with – then you will need money.” Meanwhile, Lambert says he is pleased Yacouba Sylla is disappointed at having had limited game-time – even if he is less than impressed with the Villa midfielder’s recent comments on the matter. Sylla – who has made only four appearances, all as a substitute, this calendar year – was quoted this week as saying he is looking to leave the club on loan in the summer due his unhappiness at spending so much time on the bench. And Lambert said: “I understand any player’s frustration at not playing. “You wouldn’t expect people to just sit there and not play. You are glad on that aspect. “Should he have spoken about it? Probably not. But that comes with experience. “I am glad he’s disappointed at not playing. That’s normal. “The three lads in the middle of the pitch have been doing really well for us, though. So Yac just has to do his utmost to get in the side.” And when asked about that on Thursday at his press conference to preview Saturday’s trip to Swansea, Lambert said: “He (Lerner) was over here on Tuesday. “I had a chat with him. Not a long chat. I am the manager of the football club but I am not privy to everything that goes on. “His statement to me was pretty clear – he will address everything at the end of the season. Everyone must respect that. This is his club, you have to respect his decision. “It will become clear, I am pretty sure, when he decides what he has to say. “I am relaxed. I am not uptight about anything. I am here to win football matches. That’s always the case.” A takeover of Villa could bring further questions about the future of Lambert, under whom they finished 15th last term, his first season in charge. The Scot is keeping an open mind about what might happen, but has emphasised that he wants to stay, whether Lerner remains in control or not. Lambert, whose side are currently five points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place with four more games to go, said: “If a new owner comes in, you have a conversation. That’s normal. Villa have had a turbulent time of it of late, with a run of five games without a win – four of them defeats – seeing them sucked into the Barclays Premier League relegation battle, two of the coaching staff being suspended and speculation growing that chairman Randy Lerner is ready to sell the club. In a statement released on Sunday, American Lerner said he would address the “steady rumours of a sale” after the season has finished. Press Association
But Jones insists the United squad were sad to see the former Everton manager lose his job. “On behalf of the lads we thank David Moyes for the work he put in for us all,” the England defender said. “He is a nice man and we wish him all the best. “We are sorry he has lost his job and probably we didn’t get some of the results that we would have liked to for him but that’s football.” Moyes was sacked as United boss on Tuesday, just 10 months into a six-year contract. One highly-placed United source said the board started worrying about Moyes’ ability to get the best out of his players during the February defeat at Olympiacos. “The players didn’t seem up for it,” the source said. Moyes was dogged by rumours – always denied by the Scot – that he did not get on with a number of his players. But Jones denied claims the squad simply stopped playing for their former manager. “That was never the case,” the United defender said. “Players don’t go out on the football pitch to lose games. That is ridiculous. “Everyone wants to win every game at this club. That accusation is hurtful. “It’s not happened for whatever reason but we need to move on quickly and end the season well.” Moyes made no mention of his playing staff in the statement he issued following his dismissal, and the United players remained mysteriously quiet on social media channels earlier this week. Phil Jones insists he and his Manchester United team-mates were committed to playing for David Moyes right up until the bitter end. Press Association
The Irishman finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Wentworth over the weekend, but put any disappointment to one side by carding an eight-under-par overall score in heavy wind and rain at Walton Heath Golf Club. He recorded a 69 on the new course on Monday morning before bettering that with a 67 on the old course to clinch one of the 14 qualifying places from the 105-man event. “It was really tough out there,” Lowry said on www.europeantour.com. “I played okay and putted really, really well. I holed a lot of six to eight footers for par and carried a lot of momentum in from yesterday to get the job done. “I just tried to play steady from there and not lose my head. It was tough last week and then 36 holes in this weather was very tough. “Majors are where I want to be playing. Last week I was comfortable competing down the stretch with the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, so I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’ll take that with me to Pinehurst.” English duo Simon Griffiths and Graeme Storm and Scotland’s Chris Doak were among the nine players to automatically qualify alongside Lowry, with Niclas Fasth, Marcel Siem, Max Kieffer, Garth Mulroy, Shiv Kapur and Brooks Koepka also earning their place at the second major of the season. But six other players had to compete in a play-off for the four remaining spots. English duo Oliver Fisher and Tom Lewis, plus Andrea Pavan and Lucas Bjerregaard sealed their spots, meaning Morten Madsen and Danny Willett had to be content with alternate places. Among those who missed out was Harrington, who was tied for fourth at the 2012 US Open and is a two-time champion of the Open as well as the 2008 US PGA Championship winner. He carded a 75 and a 71. The Irishman remained upbeat, however, telling Sky Sports: “Definitely it wasn’t good, but I’m certainly putting that down to just a little bit of fatigue, it’s been a long couple of weeks. “I’m really positive about things, trying to to stay confident. Probably the most important thing is trying to stay upbeat and let it happen.” Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal, himself a two-time major winner, also finished outside the top 14 after finishing level with Harrington on a two over par overall score. Shane Lowry maintained his excellent form from the BMW PGA Championship as he booked his spot at next month’s US Open by winning the 36-hole qualifying event, but three-time major winner Padraig Harrington missed out. Press Association
McIlroy turned a three-shot deficit into a two-shot lead within the space of five holes in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, before Garcia battled back to leave the pair tied heading into the back nine at Firestone Country Club. Garcia had played the same back nine in just 27 shots in his second round of 61, but it was McIlroy who came out on top two days later in a tense duel, the 25-year-old carding a closing 66 to finish 15 under par. A fortnight after holding off Sergio Garcia to win the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy overhauled his Ryder Cup team-mate to claim his first World Golf Championship event on Sunday – and with it reclaimed top spot in the world rankings. With Adam Scott finishing outside the top five, that meant McIlroy reclaimed the world number one spot he last held in March 2013, just in time for the final major of the year, next week’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla. After 16 birdies in the first three rounds Garcia could only manage one in a disappointing closing 71 to finish 13 under, meaning the 34-year-old has now won just three times after holding the 54-hole lead on 16 occasions. “What I am really proud of this week is following on from the Open with a performance like this,” McIlroy, only the second European winner of the title after Darren Clarke in 2003, told CBS. “I said straight after I did not want any let down, I wanted to keep going and performing until the end of the season. “It’s great to come to one of my favourite tournaments of the year and to perform like this I am pretty satisfied.” McIlroy pulled his opening drive into the rough but had a gap through the trees and hit a superb low pitch to three feet, while Garcia had to settle for a par by two-putting from long range. Three-time major winner McIlroy then two-putted from long range on the par-five second for another birdie and also birdied the third to take over the lead as Garcia bogeyed, but that did not tell half the story of an amazing hole. Garcia’s errant drive into the crowd somehow knocked the diamond out of a female spectator’s engagement ring and after giving her a signed ball, the Spaniard asked for her contact information after hitting his second shot over the green. Thankfully, the precious stone was quickly recovered but Garcia was unable to get up and down to save par and McIlroy holed from eight feet for a third straight birdie. Press Association When McIlroy also birdied the fifth from five feet it meant a five-shot swing had taken place in the space of five holes and gave the world number two a two-shot lead. Garcia desperately needed something to go in his favour and it happened on the eighth, McIlroy driving into the rough and finding a greenside bunker with his approach, from where he failed to get up and down. Garcia then got back on level terms with a birdie from 15 feet on the ninth, McIlroy missing from just six feet. That meant the pair went into the back nine tied on 14 under par but it was McIlroy who edged back in front with a birdie on the 11th from eight feet, Garcia then missing from a few inches closer. The decisive moment then came on the par-three 15th, where Garcia’s tee-shot left of the green left him with a near-impossible pitch over a bunker and led to a bogey four. That gave McIlroy a two-shot lead with three to play and when Garcia failed to convert a birdie chance from 10 feet on the 17th his chance had gone. Low scoring had been the order of the day on the rain-softened course, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson charging through the field with an eight-under-par 62 which featured 10 birdies and two bogeys. “I don’t know what to say, it kind of came out of nowhere,” Mickelson said after finishing five under for the tournament. “The first two rounds really threw me for a loop. I have been struggling getting my short irons close and today they were right on. “I made a lot of birdies and it was nice. Today was a big day to give me a lot of confidence and momentum heading into the US PGA next week.” England’s Lee Westwood had also found some welcome form after four consecutive missed cuts, the 41-year-old carding a flawless 63 that did not go unnoticed by watching Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley. “If you look at the one pillar that has been consistent throughout the Ryder Cup success we have had since the 90s it has been Lee Westwood but you want to see Lee in form,” said McGinley on Sky Sports 4, well aware that Westwood is outside the automatic qualifying places. “He is not going to get in on his reputation alone. He needs some form, he knows that and it’s good to see him playing well today.”
Peter Schmeichel has criticised his former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville for questioning Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. While Neville acknowledged the “amazing strike” from England defender Jagielka, he argued a “top-level goalkeeper” should save such a shot, and questioned Mignolet’s positioning, suggesting he crouched too low to give himself a chance of reaching a ball that went in just beneath the crossbar. Neville acknowledged he was a “harsh” judge, but also picked out further examples from last season before returning to the Jagielka goal and saying: ” I think he should save that and I think he’s got a technical problem.” Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was also critical, but less forcefully so. Schmeichel, the former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper, took issue with both. “I was shocked a couple of weeks back when it was a character assassination that Gary Neville did to Simon Mignolet,” Schmeichel said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “I have to say I don’t think the boy has done too bad since that night where he was taken apart by Carragher and Neville. “It’s very difficult to go on the pitch, everyone will be watching him, and everyone will be saying ‘Oh this is what Neville’s said, and this is what Carragher’s said’.” Schmeichel added: “I’m looking at the goals and I’m thinking, ‘What do you expect? Do you really honestly expect him to save everything?’. “I just think what was done on Monday Night Football was out of order because it was a really, really good shot, and it was demonstrated how low he was, but by someone who’s played right-back all his life.” Siding with his fellow shot-stopper rather than his one-time Old Trafford colleague, Schmeichel said Neville was guilty of a “character assassination” after claiming the Belgian should have kept out Phil Jagielka’s long-range late equaliser for Everton in the Merseyside derby. In the wake of the September 27 match, which finished 1-1, Sky Sports pundit Neville made his feelings clear in a five-minute critique of Mignolet. Press Association
Danny Ings has no interest in leaving Burnley this season. The England under-21 striker is out of contract in the summer and has been linked with a move away from Turf Moor. But the 22-year-old has no plans to walk out in the middle of a relegation fight, though. “I’m contracted until the end of the season and that’s the way it’s going to be,” he told The Sun. “I will fight for the team as much as I can and do my best for them. “If an offer comes in, I won’t be looking at it.” Ings has scored 51 goals in 153 appearances for the Clarets since joining from Bournemouth and his goals were pivotal in their promotion last season. He admits to being proud of his name being linked to other clubs, but is taking it no further. “I’ll just see it as a sign of confidence, take it into my game and do as well as I can for Burnley,” he added. “It’s flattering, especially for a young lad. It’s quite easy to lose concentration for some people. But I’m not that sort of character.” Press Association