Tag Archives: consolation

Jerome Fillol spits at Peter Stringer in Bath 20 Stade Francais 36

Stringer hits back at Fillol after spitting storm as Bath bow out of Amlin Cup

PUBLISHED:

15:44 GMT, 6 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 7 April 2013

Peter Stringer was furious after being spat at by opposing scrum-half Jerome Fillol as Bath crashed out of Europe.

The Irish No 9 hopes his rival from Stade Francais will be hit with a long ban for the ugly bust-up which he labelled 'the lowest of the lows'.

Today, Stringer took to Twitter to further express his view at the incident, posting: 'Disgusted at what happened yesterday in the game. No place for it in rugby or any walk of life.'

Scroll down for video of the moment Stringer calls 'the lowest of the low'

'Lowest of the lows': Peter Stringer (left) gets spat on by Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais

'Lowest of the lows': Peter Stringer (left) gets spat on by Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais

Fillol v Stringer

Rivals: The pair in action, with Stringer (left) attempting to tackle Fillol

Rivals: The pair in action, with Stringer (left) attempting to tackle Fillol

VIDEO Jerome Fillol SPITS at Peter Stringer

Fillol could face a possible 10-week suspension if found guilty after losing his cool at a ruck.

Stringer, capped 98 times, was clearly upset and asked referee Nigel Owens if he had witnessed the incident.

The Welsh referee did not see Fillol
spit but the citing commissioner will take a dim view and the Frenchman
can expect the book to be thrown at him.

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Stringer said: 'It's the lowest of
the lows and has no place on a rugby field. It's out of my hands now but
as it was seen on TV, hopefully it will be dealt with.'

The English challenge in the Amlin
Cup ended as Bath meekly bowed out. Two converted tries from Fijian
winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu and two penalties set up a 20-3 halftime lead
for the visitors.

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Bath spent 20 minutes against 14 men
after Rabah Slimani and then Scott Lavalla were sin-binned, allowing
the home side back with a penalty try.

But a brace from Hugo Bonneval
stretched Stade's lead. Bath pulled tries back through Michael Claassens
and Jack Cuthbert but it was too late to avoid defeat.

Arsene Wenger hails Gervinho after Arsenal beat Reading

Wenger hails Gervinho as Arsenal stay in the hunt for Champions League place

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed the confident display of Gervinho after the Ivory Coast forward set the Gunners on the way to a 4-1 win over relegation-battlers Reading which kept them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

Gervinho has often cut a controversial figure among supporters following a string of frustrating displays following an 11million move from Lille in July 2011.

However, the 25-year-old was on the money this afternoon, opening the scoring on 11 minutes and having a hand in everything positive as Arsenal eventually broke the Royals stubborn resistance again at the start of the second half when Santi Cazorla sweeping home. Olivier Giroud added a third following a quick break by Gervinho.

Key role: Gervinho was praised by Arsene Wenger following his performance against Reading

Key role: Gervinho was praised by Arsene Wenger following his performance against Reading

Hal Robson-Kanu headed in a consolation for Nigel Adkins' men, but there was to be no recovery to mark their new manager's first match in charge as Mikel Arteta's penalty made sure Arsenal closed up on Chelsea in the race for fourth-spot and also remained within striking distance of Tottenham, on whom they hold a match in hand.

'Gervinho's performance was very strong. He was always dangerous, always looked like he could score, gave assists and scored himself,' Wenger said.

'I believe that sometimes Gervinho has lost confidence because he played in a very negative atmosphere during a period. Strikers need confidence, and [with] his game, even more.

Winning feeling: Gervinho celebrates with team mate Bacary Sagna after the 4-1 victory

Winning feeling: Gervinho celebrates with team mate Bacary Sagna after the 4-1 victory

'He was always taking the ball and going forward, and provoking. When you lose confidence, that is a very dangerous game then.

'When he has found the confidence back, he's a very dangerous player.

'At the African Nations Cup, for me he was the best striker there. He is the type of player who is difficult to find, because they always go at people.'

Wenger was pleased with the final result for his side, who have now won six of their last eight league games and also won 2-0 away over Bayern Munich in the Champions League, although still bowing out of Europe.

'I enjoyed our technical side, our creative side, our spirit and how disciplined and focused we were,' said Wenger.

Mind the gap: Arsene Wenger fighting for Champions League qualification

Mind the gap: Arsene Wenger fighting for Champions League qualification

'The regret you have is that there were more goals in this game than the number of goals we scored.

'Overall, it's a good basis to finish the season well. Let's just keep that spirit, that attitude and play the football we want to play.'

Wenger called for his side to keep their performances high over the run-in, with little margin for error if they are to gatecrash the top four once again.

'What we do is we look at the table and we are still behind Chelsea and Tottenham. We are not in a calculation mode,' he said.

'We can just win our next game and continue to do what we do at the moment.

'We are on a run so let's take care of the quality of our game and that run. After, we'll see where we stand.

On target: Gervinho was on the scoresheet

On target: Gervinho was on the scoresheet

'It (Champions League qualification) will be less predictable than it was predicted. We have a word to say in that and we want to give our best to do it.'

For Reading, meanwhile, the outlook is not so positive as the defeat sent them bottom of the table on goal difference, some seven points adrift of safety.

However, with a home clash against former club Southampton, Adkins is not about to throw in the towel just yet.

He said: 'We have had a bit of a fragmented week with the change, and players away on international duty, trying to get to grips with where we want to go and what to do is going to be challenging.

'We wanted to get something here, but didn't. Arsenal kept the ball very well.

'We will analyse it now, debrief back with the players, take the lessons from it and work very hard on the training ground for the next one.

'You can't change everything straight away, but we will all work hard together to give us a chance in the next game.'

Adkins added: 'The spirit is there in the group, and all we can do is take it one match at a time – there here and now is putting this one to bed, working hard over the course of the week for the next one.'

Heather Watson beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in Australian Open 6-3, 6-1

End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013

There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.

Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.

Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.

It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.

Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.

She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Making the shot: Watson gets the ball over the net

Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.

At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.

Heather Watson

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected

After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.

The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

John Guidetti stakes claim for Manchester City promotion after scoring for development squad on injury return

Guidetti stakes claim for City promotion after scoring nine minutes into injury return

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

19:51 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:51 GMT, 14 January 2013

Manchester City striker John Guidetti returned to Blues colours for the first time in 18 months today – and marked the occasion with a goal.

Guidetti has been out of action for nine months with a knee injury and also had an extended spell on loan at Feyenoord.

The Swede took just nine minutes to hit the target, sliding in to finish off Marcos Lopes' cross.

Remember me John Guidetti (right) in action for Manchester City's development squad on Monday

Remember me John Guidetti (right) in action for Manchester City's development squad on Monday

Jose Angel Pozo and Albert Rusnak wrapped up a 3-1 win for City, with Reading's consolation coming through Lawson D'Ath.

Guidetti is yet to feature in a Premier League game for City, but proved his talent when on loan last season with Feyenoord, where he scored 20 goals in just 23 appearances.

On target: Guidetti (floored) scores City's first goal of the game in a 3-1 win against Reading

On target: Guidetti (floored) scores City's first goal of the game in a 3-1 win against Reading

He signed a new three-year deal with the Barclays Premier League champions in October last year.

West Ham, Southampton, Sunderland and Fiorentina have shown interest in Guidetti and City are keen for him to gain Premier League experience so could send him out on loan.

Kevin Kilbane on retiring from football: I wouldn"t change a thing

Kevin Kilbane: After more than 700 games, I'm calling it a day… but I wouldn't change anything

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UPDATED:

15:14 GMT, 8 December 2012

This is the day I have been dreading. I’m retiring and hanging up the boots after nearly 20 years. I am no longer a professional footballer.

It seems strange to say it after all these years but the body and the mind have had enough. I know it’s time.

The last year, battling a back injury and getting fit for a new season with Coventry City, has been a real slog. It’s just not much fun anymore.

I’d lost that competitive edge to go to training every day. From being a kid, and certainly throughout my professional career, I have treated every training session like it was my last. But that feeling has gone. I don’t have that hunger anymore.

I know it’s the right decision for me, and my family, and, if there is one consolation, I’m pleased it has been in my hands. Over the years, so many team-mates and good friends, some as young as 18, some on their early 20s, lads so full of hope, have had their careers ended in an instant. They go into one more routine game, and bang. It’s all over.

A new beginning: Kevin Kilbane has retired from football

A new beginning: Kevin Kilbane has retired from football

I’ve played more than 700 games, represented my country more than 100 times, including a run, of which I am very proud, of 66 consecutive competitive appearances. I couldn’t believe it when it was happening to me. I still can’t believe I have been so lucky.

I honestly couldn’t thank Coventry City enough for all their understanding over the last few weeks. I joined the club with really high hopes in the summer and was honoured to be made captain but things haven’t worked out like I hoped or planned. I know as well as most that’s just the way football goes.

Most importantly, after too many nights, weeks and months away from them, I want to be near my family. I can’t do that fighting against the tide in the Midlands when my heart just isn’t in it.

When I think back to the sacrifices I have made over the years, particularly representing my country, I don’t regret them. I was the only senior player who went to the States with Steve Staunton six years ago, but it was the right thing to do because I was playing for Ireland. I was captain on that tour. It’s what I dreamed of when I was wearing my Opel shirt at home in Preston in 1988.

It’s time to put me and the family first now.

My career started at Preston North End, my home-town club. I joined at 10, became an apprentice at 16 and made my debut two years later.

Calling it a day: Kilbane won 110 Republic of Ireland caps

Calling it a day: Kilbane won 110 Republic of Ireland caps

I still remember my debut. It was Plainmoor, Torquay United, September 1995, a boiling hot day on the coast. Gary Peters was manager, he named me in the squad the day before we set off, I warmed up for the entire game I was so nervous.

He put me on the for the last 20 minutes, and we won 4-0. Although I am pretty sure I came away thinking `this is a breeze’, I never felt I had made it. I was delighted to be a professional footballer and I just wanted to work hard every day to make sure it was never taken away from me. And I knew it was what I had to do.

I had a good grounding because my older brother Farrell, who also called it a day at the end of last season after a good career as a semi-pro, had been released by Preston while I was at the club.

Preston won the third division that season and of course it was just an amazing start for me. I only played about a dozen games, usually from the bench, but I just loved every minute of being a part of the dressing room.

Leaving wasn’t easy. But when West Brom came in with a then club record fee of 1million, there was really no choice.

It was very hard to start with, living away from home for the first time and living in a strange city. I was all over the place, but Ray Harford was one of the best coaches I’ve worked with and he just believed in me. Ray and his successor Denis Smith let me play with the most freedom I’ve enjoyed in my career.

A step up: Kilbane is honest about his spell on Wearside

A step up: Kilbane is honest about his spell on Wearside

Sunderland was a big move and I know I was not good enough. It’s not a problem to admit it because it’s a fact.

I loved my time in the north east, made some friends for life, and I totally understand their love of football. I really do get it which is why I love the fans up there so much.

But I didn’t really settle quickly enough on the pitch and my best season was probably when we went down, which is no benefit whatsoever.

I was sorry to leave, especially as the club and I really had no choice after relegation, but Everton was probably my best spell. And then Wigan, and my favourite club game, the dramatic last day when we beat Sheffield United to stay up in the Premier League. I had a hand in both goals, I remember that.

And where do I start with the Ireland memories

Playing in the 2002 World Cup Finals was the greatest, strangest and most painful experience in my career, all rolled into one incredible month.

We got there thanks to that win over Holland, and that’s my favourite game. I was right behind Jason when he scored and just ran after him, caught him quite easily by the touchline because he wasn’t the fastest. The celebrations back at the airport hotel, after Lillies, were the best ever – and there have been a few.

I watched the Germany game on ESPN Classic the other night. We were a good side you know, even without Roy Keane. My memory of that night is the party back at the team hotel, with the wives, families and supporters staying there, Noel O’Reilly on the banjo, everyone getting up to sing a song. Late finish.

We should have beaten Spain to get to the quarter-finals. I know I should have scored. I can’t erase the mis-hit from Ian Harte’s saved penalty, and my own penalty miss in the shoot-out. I can still close my eyes and see them, feel the touches off my left foot. Miss every time.

Painful memory: Kilbane watches as Ian Harte sees his penalty saved by Iker Casillas

Painful memory: Kilbane watches as Ian Harte sees his penalty saved by Iker Casillas

I’ve had my fair share of stick over the years, including from my own supporters.

No sports psychologist in the world can prepare a player for that abuse. It doesn’t matter whether it is one bloke shouting at you as you take a throw-in, or thousands booing you and cheering your substitution. It is hard to take because it’s you. They just do not like you.

No one likes criticism in any walk of life, but I learned to deal with it and ignore it, laugh it off. It’s the only way because you have to be stronger.
The funny thing is, I really wouldn’t change anything in my career, and I include all the stick.

Perhaps it goes back to my upbringing. When you’ve had Sam Allardyce, Gary Peters and John Beck bellowing at you as a young kid, stick from Sunderland fans is water off a duck’s back. With Big Sam one withering look was enough to make your blood run cold.

I’ll miss so much about playing but now I am looking forward to new challenges, long lie-ins and daytime television.

I’m not writing off coaching. I loved working with the reserves and academy players at Hull City last season with Nick Barmby as manager and sadly the role, which I had big plans for, was taken away when Nick was sacked and Steve Bruce gave it to someone else. And then I was sent to Coventry…

I’ve got my UEFA A and B licences, I know I love coaching, but it’s tough to get the work. I have certainly not ruled it out for the future.

My immediate future is to get more involved in work as patron of Downs Syndrome Association and work on my autobiography, which will be published next autumn in aid of the UK-based charity.

I will also be concentrating on the media work, which I’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years, and hopefully I can be successful. It is a new responsibility and I have to view games differently but I like that idea very much.

It starts with the column next week in the Irish Daily Mail and a game for BBC Radio 5 live back at Everton tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Ederson strips off to celebrate Lazio win

Well that's one way to celebrate! Lazio player marks victory by taking his clothes off

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UPDATED:

14:42 GMT, 7 December 2012

If taking your shirt off after scoring a goal is worthy of a yellow card these days, then surely this victory strip deserves red!

Lazio’s Ederson entertained supporters by undressing on the side of the pitch and throwing his jersey and pants into the stands after beating NK Maribor 4-1 in Lazio’s final Europa League match on Thursday night.

Celebration strip: Lazio's Ederson marks his side's win by braving the cold and stripping off to his underwear

Celebration strip: Lazio's Ederson marks his side's win by braving the cold and stripping off to his underwear

Unwrapped: Ederson then hands his sweaty clothes to adoring Lazio fans

Unwrapped: Ederson then hands his sweaty clothes to adoring Lazio fans

Two goals from Sergio Floccari helped Lazio secure top spot in Group J and join the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle in the knockout stages of Europe’s second-tier tournament.

Libor Kozak and Stefan Radu also scored for the visitors before Marcos Tavares hit a late consolation.

But it was Ederson who provided the highlight of the evening and grabbed the headlines with this late strip show in front of supporters.

Wrapped up: Ederson (left) in action during the 4-1 Europa League victory and still with his clothes on

Wrapped up: Ederson (left) in action during the 4-1 Europa League victory and still with his clothes on

The Brazilian is playing his first season in Italy, having previously played in France for Nice and Lyon. He joined Lazio this summer on a five-year contract but a few minor injuries have disrupted the start of his season.

He has only played for the Brazilian senior team once but won the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in 2003.

Chest the ticket: the Brazilian snubbed France in order to play for the Samba boys

Chest the ticket: the Brazilian snubbed France in order to play for the Samba boys

Cold snap: Ederson takes off his shorts after Lazio progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Cold snap: Ederson takes off his shorts after Lazio progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League

He could have played for France on residency rules, but chose to represent the Samba boys.

And judging by these pictures, he’s a born entertainer.

NextGen series: Arsenal through to last 16

Arsenal progress through to NextGen last 16 after winning six goal thriller against Bilbao

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UPDATED:

00:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsenal's youngsters put on a sublime display to win 4-2 against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening and advance through to the last 16 of the NextGen series.

In a must-win game for the hosts, the Gunners got off to the perfect start with Jon Toral heading home from close range to make it 1-0 after seven minutes. Athletic struck back almost immediately from the penalty spot through Ager Aqueche, who calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

NEXTGEN SERIES

Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are also taking part in the competition. For a full review of the groups click here

Quickfire second-half goals from Zak
Ansah, Isaac Hayden and John Toral put Arsenal into a commanding lead
before Athletic grabbed a consolation goal late on.

Bilbao remain in second place in Group
6 with a game left to play against Olympiacos next week. Should they
avoid defeat against the Greeks they will advance through to the last 16
of the tournament as group winners.

Joe Hart does not want to think about Manchester derby

Forget the derby: Hart focused on Dortmund and not United as top two get ready to face off

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UPDATED:

16:49 GMT, 2 December 2012

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart wants to put aside thoughts of next Sunday's eagerly-anticipated derby clash with Manchester United until later in the week.

Attention will now switch the clash of the arch-rivals and title contenders at Etihad Stadium, when local pride and top spot in the Barclays Premier League will be at stake.

But before the sides meet, both have relatively minor Champions League business to take care of.

Letting it slip: Manchester City's Joe Hart saw Marouane Fellaini score for EvertonLetting it slip: Manchester City's Joe Hart saw Marouane Fellaini score for EvertonLetting it slip: Manchester City's Joe Hart saw Marouane Fellaini score for Everton

Letting it slip: Manchester City's Joe Hart saw Marouane Fellaini score for Everton

United face Cluj in a dead rubber while City, already eliminated from the competition, travel to Borussia Dortmund looking to secure a consolation spot in the Europa League.

Hart said: 'We move on to the derby now, and we've obviously got Dortmund on Tuesday.

'We've got a tough one in Dortmund. We need to finish the Champions League group with a bit of pride.

'Hopefully we'll get a good result there and we'll get into that one (derby). We'll deal with that when it comes.'

On level terms: Carlos Tevez put City level from the spot

On level terms: Carlos Tevez put City level from the spot

City trail United by three points heading into the derby but remain unbeaten after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Everton at Eastlands.

The champions needed to come from behind after Marouane Fellaini turned in a deflected Leighton Baines cross at the second attempt after 33 minutes.

Their equaliser came from a controversial penalty before the break after Fellaini was adjudged to have fouled Edin Dzeko at a corner.

It was a soft award and led to protests from Everton but Carlos Tevez made no mistake from the spot.

Hart saved well from a Fellaini header and a Nikica Jelavic free-kick in the final moments of each half but City generally dominated the second period.

The result extended City's unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 37 games.

Hart said: “It's a great record – one we need to keep going, but with more wins than draws.

'It was a tough game. It is always going to be tough against Everton. We'd like to win but we haven't lost.

'They are a good team, they work for each other. They have got some good players and a good manager, and all that added together makes them a tough team to play against.'

Everton, who remain in touching distance of the top-four positions, have become draw specialists.

It was their seventh stalemate in nine games but unlike after some of the previous stalemates – and despite their frustration over the penalty – they felt it was a good point gained rather than two dropped.

Defender Baines said: 'It is a decent point.

'We were under quite a bit of pressure in the second half and that point in the game I think we would have been happy with a point.

Happy with a draw: Leighton Baines said it was a good point for Everton

Happy with a draw: Leighton Baines said it was a good point for Everton

'We were still trying to hit City on the break but they played well in the second half.

'I think we defended well and this is a much better point than some of the other points we have picked up in recent weeks. This is the best of the bunch.

'When you come away to a team like this you expect a tough game.

'In the second half we showed that grit we need to come away from sides like this with a point.'

Everton's recent sequence has seen them slip from second at the start of October to sixth but Baines is still satisfied with the position.

The England left-back, who overcame a hamstring worry to feature, said: 'We are probably where we feel we deserve to be.

'We have conceded quite a few late goals, which has disappointed us.

'It is easy to look back and say we could have had an extra few points here or there, but there is no point. You'd drive yourself barmy.

'We look forward now. We have got another tough run of games in front of us.

'There are no 'gimmes' in this league. We have got to find a way to start getting three points.'

One aspect of the performance that pleased Baines was how the Toffees nullified City's attacking threat.

The 27-year-old said: “That's the pleasing thing. The majority of the play was in front of us.

'I thought the midfield lads worked tirelessly for us and did a great job defensively. That kept them off our backs a bit.

'When they eventually did get through to us at the back Jags (Phil Jagielka) and Sylvain (Distin) stood up to them. I thought we did well.'

Rafael Benitez says Chelsea players need a rest

Get in shape! Rafa says Chelsea players are not fit enough and many need a rest

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UPDATED:

00:24 GMT, 1 December 2012

Rafa Benitez has told Roman Abramovich his Chelsea squad is not fit enough, fresh enough or big enough.

Benitez made his point at a board meeting on Thursday when he was asked to offer feedback on his first week in the job.

Scroll down for video

Need a rest: Rafael Benitez says Chelsea's players are tired

Need a rest: Rafael Benitez says Chelsea's players are tired

Chelsea’s interim manager refused to
elaborate on details yesterday but he is thought to believe the European
champions should prioritise a left-back, a defensive midfielder and a
striker.

Leighton Baines has been extensively
scouted by Chelsea as a long-term successor to Ashley Cole, who will
leave on a free at the end of the season, probably to join Paris
Saint-Germain.

Baines has been in brilliant form for
Everton and would suit the attacking style Abramovich longs to see but a
more immediate need is to bolster the squad in January.

John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses are
bound for the Africa Cup of Nations in the New Year and fringe players
lack the quality to rotate to the extent Benitez would like.

That has still not stopped him
dropping Brazilian midfielder Oscar for today’s trip to West Ham as he
goes searching for his first goal and first win.

The future as well as the present is very much on the agenda though even if Benitez is in a job until the end of the season.

With Frank Lampard expected to follow
Cole through the exit at the end of his contract in June, the Blues are
planning the next phase of team building.

Benitez told the board he would like
more time to assess the players he had inherited but was able to explain
it was a tired squad and not physically equipped to compete on all
fronts.

And the Oscar goes to... the bench: The Chelsea midfielder will be among the substitutes for the London derby

And the Oscar goes to… the bench: The Chelsea midfielder will be among the substitutes for the London derby

On target: Oscar scored a wondergoal against Juventus earlier this season

FAT SPANISH WAITER

If it is any consolation to those Chelsea fans who feel Rafa Benitez is an uncomfortable fit for their club, he knows exactly how they feel.

Benitez has found the Dolce & Gabbana club suits a little too fitted for his liking and is waiting for a specially tailored version to arrive.

'I have some problems with the official suit,' smiled Benitez.

'It is an Italian style and the Italian style is different. It's really nice, but it's a style for young people, not old people. The Italian style is more for players.'

Chelsea supporters have found it hard to accept the former Liverpool manager who was appointed to replace Roberto Di Matteo.

Benitez has been booed and jeered during his first two games at Stamford Bridge and faced with protest banners.

He even found his tie was criticised after the game against Fulham because it was not blue enough. Unlike the blue tie he wore in his first game against Manchester City.

'These little things are not the main issue,' he said. 'My first tie was blue.'

'We had too many players playing
almost every game,' said the former Liverpool manager. 'Eleven or 12
were playing in every game and others hadn’t had too many minutes.

'You cannot play two or three games in
eight days and be fully fit. You lose some pace and energy. We will
manage the squad, particularly with Japan and the games over Christmas.
We will be stronger as a team if we juggle them.'

When Marko Marin came off the bench
against Fulham on Wednesday he became Chelsea’s 20th player of the
Barclays Premier League campaign.

No club has used fewer and some, like Fernando Torres, the one established centre-forward, have been run into the ground.

The new manager feels unable to work
on fitness with a congested schedule ahead, which includes flying to
Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup after next weekend’s game at
Sunderland.

'There aren’t many players here,' said
Benitez. 'There were 19, now 20 with Marin. They’d been playing fewer
players. I’m not here to criticise, but that’s the reality.

'You can see the team needs to improve
a bit physically and you cannot do that if they play two games in a
week. It’s very demanding.

Run down: Fernando Torres looks like he is running in treacle these days

Run down: Fernando Torres looks like he is running in treacle these days

In training: Ashley Cole and David Luiz are put through their paces on Friday

In training: Ashley Cole and David Luiz are put through their paces on Friday

'They have played so many games,
massive games in the Champions League. The players were getting tired.
You can’t give them a rest either because there’s no time.

'We will analyse carefully, talking
with the fitness coaches, and may adjust a bit. We’ll start specific
programmes with every player.'

Torres clearly needs to rest both mind and body, yet Daniel Sturridge, the only real alternative, is injured.

Benitez also dismissed the idea of returning to the last-gasp gamble by Di Matteo, playing Eden Hazard up front.

Ahead of today’s trip across the
capital to West Ham, the Spaniard also told how he came close to signing
Andy Carroll for Liverpool for only 5million. The move is understood
to have been blocked by the Anfield club’s co-owner Tom Hicks.

'He played in the Youth Cup at
Anfield,' said Benitez. 'We were watching him, a young player with
power. It was an option and he was quite a lot cheaper than 35m. Take
off the three. Quite cheap but sometimes you cannot.'

VIDEO: Rafa Benitez talks tactics ahead of Chelsea's match against West Ham

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Andy Carroll goal drought: when will he score again?

Without a league goal since April, can Carroll rediscover his golden touch at high-flying West Ham

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UPDATED:

15:03 GMT, 20 November 2012

It’s a question that only Chris Hughton knows the answer to and to a slight extent, Alan Pardew too.

Kenny Dalglish was left stumped, Brendan Rodgers didn’t try to put much effort into answering it and now Sam Allardyce is doing some long division sums to find a solution.

So on to the poser itself: How do you get Andy Carroll scoring goals

Imperfect 10: Carroll has not scored yet this season

Imperfect 10: Carroll has not scored yet this season

West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Stoke on Monday night brought another battling performance out of the striker but also his tenth match this season without a goal.

In fact you have to go back to Euro 2012 in June for the last time Carroll found the back of the net, with a brilliant header for England against Sweden.

The 23-year-old’s last domestic goal proved to be a consolation strike against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, while his last Premier League goal was a 90th-minute winner at Blackburn in April (another great header).

That’s a worrying drought for any marksman, let alone one that cost Liverpool 35million last January when he joined from Newcastle.

It’s coming up to two years since Carroll departed St James’ Park on the last day of the 2011 January transfer window and the stats do not make good reading for him.

After helping Newcastle return to the Premier League in 2010, the striker scored 11 goals in his first four months back in the top flight under Hughton and Pardew. Since joining Liverpool he has scored six.

Revelation: Carroll burst onto the scene with Newcastle in 2010

Revelation: Carroll burst onto the scene with Newcastle in 2010

To put that into context we have Fernando Torres, who left Liverpool and joined Chelsea for 50million on the same day Carroll ventured into Merseyside.

With 40 league starts (seven more than Carroll) the much maligned striker has found the net 11 times. But while Blues fans have started to lose patience with the Spaniard, West Ham and some sections of Liverpool fans only have positive things to say about Carroll. So if he isn’t scoring, what is he doing

The simple answer is he is bringing more team-mates into play just by being on the pitch. The striker’s fantastic ability to contest an aerial ball has made him a victim of his own success.

As a relative unknown threat at Newcastle he was the focal point of the attack and given as much licence as any striker to contest a cross – and the goals soon followed.

At Liverpool he was often in a more unsuited role playing alongside No 1 striker Luis Suarez (or injured). But the Premier League teams have caught up on their homework and now, on loan at West Ham, he is a marked man.

Frozen out: Rodgers was not interested in keeping Carroll at Liverpool

Frozen out: Rodgers was not interested in keeping Carroll at Liverpool

Or make that double marked. Watch any long ball played towards Carroll this season and you will see two opposition defenders jump with him. It’s no wonder the goals have dried up when he is given very little chance to win an attacking header these days.

This may be starting to read like the England international is a heading machine and nothing more but there is finesse to Carroll’s game too.

His left foot can be just as powerful and deadly inside and outside the penalty box. He holds the ball up well and can spot an intelligent pass to make.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce knows this and has been keen to exploit the gaps left by defences’ concentrated efforts on Carroll by bringing Kevin Nolan into an advanced role – the midfielder may as well be masquerading as a centre-forward these days.

Carroll and Nolan, good friends off the field, were a lethal combination at Newcastle and have formed a similar understanding at Upton Park.

Marked man: Carroll is renowned for his aerial ability

Marked man: Carroll is renowned for his aerial ability

CARROLL BY NUMBERS

Newcastle: Games 91, Goals 33,

Liverpool: Games 58, Goals 11

West Ham: Games 6, Goals 0

England: Games 5, Goals 2

Nolan in his ‘secret striker’ role has scored five goals already this season – only Everton’s Marouane Fellaini has more from midfield (Michu has played as a striker on many occasions for Swansea).

Everyone benefits from having Carroll in the team, and that includes the defence as the striker is always happy to come back and defend set-pieces inside his own box too.

West Ham are a more balanced team with him than without him and he is a big reason why the Hammers are flying as high as seventh in the table.

In six games without the striker this season, West Ham have won just two. One was the opening day victory against Aston Villa, the other a Capital One Cup win against Crewe.

It’s a similar story for England. The Three Lions have won six of the nine games Carroll has been involved in and despite scoring just two goals in that time remains in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

At a time when the national side is struggling for creativity, Carroll’s presence on the pitch potentially builds space for players like Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney to exploit. But he also has the desired quality to show off his own contribution when needed – a factor that often caught out Emile Heskey when he played his own supporting role for Michael Owen at international level.

High hopes: Carroll's last goal was scored for England against Sweden at Euro 2012

High hopes: Carroll's last goal was scored for England against Sweden at Euro 2012

Nurtured well he could still be England’s new No 9 but he needs to find a way to adapt an already promising game. His work-rate so far at West Ham has been admirable but there is more to learn and he can’t live off the excuse of being marked out of every game.

A potential Plan B for West Ham going forward is the impressive Modibo Maiga being paired up in attack with the striker to try and discourage the double marking.

It should free Carroll up slightly and at least give him a few more chances in front of goal. He may have missed a sitter at Newcastle recently but he looks settled at West Ham and the goals will surely come if given more opportunities to feed on.

It’s very unlikely he can ever match his 35million fee, but Carroll didn’t choose his price tag and much of the value in that transfer was due to the enormous loss and little time Newcastle had to replace their star man (plus the Torres factor) rather than a fair gauge of his overall ability.

It’s a striker’s job to score goals but it’s a team’s duty to win and so far West Ham and Carroll are proving a winning combination despite his non-existent strike rate. Even if Rodgers still doesn’t want him at Anfield by the time next summer comes around – plenty of other Premier League teams will.