Tag Archives: relegation

Roberto Martinez admits Premier League relegation would mean Wigan"s FA Cup final spot

Martinez: Relegation would turn FA Cup final into 'empty achievement'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 16 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 16 April 2013

Roberto Martinez has admitted that reaching the FA Cup final will go down as an 'empty achievement' if Wigan fail to safeguard their Barclays Premier League status.

Relegation-threatened Wigan face Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night in what is being dubbed a dress rehearsal for next month's final, after both teams came through last weekend's semi-final ties.

But Wembley will not be allowed anywhere near Martinez's thoughts, after he described how Wigan's players travelled straight back after Saturday evening's win over Millwall and trained the following day.

Scroll down to watch Martinez's pre-match press conference

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Far from staying over in London for a party to mark their first-ever Cup final place, Wigan's squad were heading north within an hour or so of the final whistle, and Martinez explained why, as he said:
'I didn't allow too many celebrations, because Wednesday's game is so important.

'We switched back to normality straightaway, and put in a great day's work on Sunday, and that is huge credit to the players.

WIGAN'S RUN-IN
April 17: Manchester City (a) April 20: West Ham (a) April 27: Tottenham (h) May 4: West Brom (a) May 7: Swansea (h) May 14: Arsenal (a) May 19: Aston Villa (h)

The Latics currently sit in the last relegation place, three points behind Aston Villa but have two games in hand on their rivals. However, Martinez is fully aware of the task facing his side as they visit the reigning league champions tomorrow.

He said: 'Given City's record at home over the past couple of seasons, this is the toughest test we could face, but we have to respond to the position we are in and make sure we keep picking up points.

'If we do, it will be an incredible achievement to secure a ninth season in the Premier League. That would be some statement.

'If we don't, then reaching the Cup final will become an empty achievement. The Cup is the oldest and best knock-out tournament in the world.

'There is no doubt about that, and getting to the final is an historic moment for this club, and one we are proud of. But we can only count this season as a success if we stay in the Premier League.

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

'Other teams have reached Wembley finals and been relegated, so that shows the demands we are facing. We are probably facing the hardest fight to stay up so far, and that is credit to the teams around us and the competitive nature of this league.

'But I believe our Cup expoits can actually enhance our survival prospects. Stepping out at Wembley next month would be a unique moment in the career of every Wigan player, and none of them wants to miss out on that. The only way to ensure a place is by contributing to the intervening League games, and that is bringing a really good competitive edge to our play.

'Everyone wants to be involved next month, and that is a great motivation for them over the next few weeks.'

VIDEO Martinez praises Wigan players' form

Martinez praises Wigan players

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PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Arsenal vs Norwich, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs QPR, Reading vs Liverpool, Southampton vs West Ham

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow all the action as it happens

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

01:00 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 13 April 2013

It may be FA Cup semi-final weekend, but there's still plenty of Premier League action to enjoy with five 3pm kick-offs on Saturday afternoon: Arsenal vs Norwich City, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs Queens Park Rangers, Reading vs Liverpool and Southampton vs West Ham United.

Join Adam Shergold for all the goals as they go in from 2pm.

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Arsenal vs Norwich City

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Everton vs Queens Park Rangers

Reading vs Liverpool

Southampton vs West Ham United

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

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2.02pm LIVERPOOL team news versus Reading – Brendan Rodgers has made one change from last weekend's goalless draw with West Ham United, with Daniel Sturridge coming in for Stewart Downing.

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho
Substitutes: Jones, Assaidi, Downing, Coates, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel

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READING team news vs Liverpool
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Hunt, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Substitutes: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Le Fondre, Blackman

2pm Hello and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of this afternoon's five Barclays Premier League matches.

The FA Cup semi-finals may take centre stage this weekend, but there's still plenty at stake in the top flight, particularly in the relegation battle.

Stay with us for all the team news, coming up shortly.

Premier League Saturday afternoon action

Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must hold their nerve to stay in the Premier League – Martin Keown

The bootroom: Survival It's all about nerve now… and Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must keep theirs

By
Martin Keown

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 5 April 2013

Taking it easy: Jocky Wilson relaxes away from the pressures of the oche

Taking it easy: Jocky Wilson relaxes away from the pressures of the oche

The late, great darts legend Jocky Wilson used to recount how pressure could reach out and grab him by the throat. Once that happened, he could do nothing.

Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to them this weekend.

They are the teams in 13th, 14th and 15th places in the Barclays Premier League, just a few points above the drop zone and all with very winnable home games this weekend.

Stoke, with one win in 12, are at home to Aston Villa. Norwich have won one in 14 and face out-of-sorts Swansea. Newcastle, after returning from Lisbon, hope a fourth successive home win — against Fulham — can pull them clear of danger.

It’s easy to look at those sides and say they’ll be fine but why should they be The bottom of the table is as close as I can remember and if you are one of those teams, you will be nervous.

All these teams are probably a win away from safety. If you can put daylight between you and the bottom three quickly, it’s fine. If you don’t, that win you need becomes harder to come by.

This weekend, Stoke manager Tony Pulis, Chris Hughton at Norwich and Alan Pardew at Newcastle will have pencilled in must-win matches. Of their respective opponents, Villa are deep in trouble, Swansea have lost three in a row while Fulham are safe and have little to play for.

Where it went wrong

Such is Villa’s and Wigan’s fighting spirit that they are pulling the teams above them into the relegation battle. They worried Sunderland so much that they sacked Martin O’Neill. But all the teams up to and including Southampton will be a bit nervous.

Stoke, more than anyone, might have the outcome of the relegation battle in their hands. After Villa, they play Norwich, QPR, Sunderland and Southampton before the end of the season. Last week against Everton they were poor, Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome especially.

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

It doesn’t look like Stoke’s players are responding to Pulis as much as they used to and they have failed to evolve as a team. Their passing and style should be better after so many years in the Premier League. And there is the added uncertainty over Pulis’s future, which cannot be helping the players. I didn’t like hearing him talk this week about how many points will be needed to stay up. The focus should be on improving the team, not counting the points and fixtures.

We did that when I was relegated with Aston Villa and it cost us. You must not become obsessed with each and every scenario.

But Pulis is a fighter and has done remarkably well at that club overall. I’m confident he’ll keep them up, even if they have regressed this season.

Score

Norwich hardly concede but they hardly score either. And after losing at Wigan last weekend, the pressure is on a little bit. When you lose to a team below you, it can give you the impression that they are better than you. It will not have inspired confidence. Three wins on the trot against Swansea will give them some belief that they can claim three vital points.

For Stoke and Norwich, staying up is their main aim. Anything after that is a bonus. For Newcastle it is slightly different, although people are realising now just how much they overachieved last season.
The Europa League has not helped them but they haven’t won a trophy for 44 years so they need to take it seriously. It’s just vital that their league form doesn’t dip any more or the situation will snowball.

Table

Boot room

Boot room

The Footballers" Football Column – Alan Curbishley:

ALAN CURBISHLEY: The pressure of a relegation battle is huge… you're playing to keep the dinner lady and groundsman in jobs – as well as themselves

PUBLISHED:

07:19 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League – yet he has been out of work for more than four years. After 15 years and 729 games managing Charlton he decided to leave for a new challenge. That came in 2006 when he took over at a struggling West Ham. He kept the Hammers in the Premier League on the final day of the season against Manchester United at OId Trafford. In his debut Footballers' Football Column Curbishley writes about the pressures of a relegation battle and who he believes will go down this season. He also discusses his desire to return to the dug-out after his long absence. Before you read his column, make sure you watch his video.

Alan Curbishley: Footballers' Football column

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I feel for all the managers who are fighting relegation this season because I know how tough it is. There are so many different pressures being a Premier League manager and even more so when you are in a relegation battle.

The main pressure is the finances. You’re aware that if you get relegated you can lose up to 70 per cent of your income.

And if that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking about not just the players and the staff, but the ordinary people at the football club, the people who work in the restaurants and at the training ground. People whose livelihoods depend of the job and when there are cutbacks after relegation, they’re often the first people that take the hit.

Nigel Adkins

Harry Redknapp

Paul Lambert

Roberto Martinez

Tough times: Nigel Adkins, Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez are all feeling the pressure

So you’ve got the financial pressure, the pressure on yourself, because obviously you don’t want to be associated with relegation, and you know that it could be a long way back for the football club if that happens.

And then it’s the fans and the press and the media that seem to thrive on every bad moment. So there’s loads of different pressures going on, and I’ve not even mentioned the football, but you’ve got to be aware of all that and it takes its toll.

Every situation is different and it all depends how long you’ve been in that struggle for, if you’ve been in that all season it does take its toll and you do have to go game by game. You’re just hoping for that one match, that one thing that turns it around and starts giving people confidence.

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

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JILL SCOTT: How Arsenal are on their way to winning a trophy (no, really) – and why we take the mick out of England's golden oldie
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21/03/13

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19/03/13

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16/03/13

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But then there are the other clubs who feel safe and suddenly drop into it the last few games and they’re not used to that pressure, they’re not used to playing under than intense scrutiny and you can’t cope with it.

Sometimes the club that stays up is the battle-hardened one, who has been in it most of the season and just manages to get out of it near the end before the trap-door closes and that’s it.

When you are down there you look for positives but in reality there’s nothing better than winning a game. I’ve often thought, ‘What comes first – confidence winning you matches, or winning matches giving you confidence’

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get a win, as long as you’ve gone and got the three points on the Saturday, you know it can change the whole atmosphere around the club.

If you are down there then you have got to try different things to turn your fortunes around. Look back to last season, Wigan looked doomed.

But then Roberto Martinez switched his defence to three at the back and gave them a bit more stability, they won a couple of games 1-0 and suddenly the confidence was there, they went on a terrific run until the end of the season and stayed up.

Players react differently when they are in a relegation battle. Some players are affected by it, you know they are good players but they are struggle being in that position.

But then other players thrive on it and can handle it. When you’re in that battle you like to look around the dressing room and perhaps look at six or seven players, or even eight, and know what you’re going to get. Because unless that amount of players are performing you’re not going to win anything.

A relegation battle is tough for everyone and I certainly did not enjoy it. When I went into West Ham they were third from bottom, 14 points from 17 games, and so you know, even if you start taking a point a game, you’re going to be involved in it for the rest of the season. Anything better than that is European form.

I knew when I went into West Ham we had to get out of it quickly and we didn’t. Obviously we stayed in it and with 10 games to go we were doomed, but we got a bit of luck. We won a game at Blackburn where we scored a goal that never went over the line, and suddenly it changed.

We picked up the next result, the team selection was consistent, which it hadn’t been before I was at the club, and along with that came a bit of belief.

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

We won seven of our last nine games. Look at who we played – Arsenal, Everton, Bolton who were in a European position, Middlesbrough, who were just outside of European spots, and then the last game of the season at Manchester United.

What I remember about that game at Old Trafford is that nine of the players who played in that game were at the club before I arrived, so it got me thinking, and it’s what I thought all along, the players had the ability, so why were they in the position they were in

I had players in that run-in playing with so much confidence and doing things I couldn’t imagine they could’ve done weeks before. Consistent team selection helped, and results, and obviously the fans.

Often people talk about Tevez, but he hadn’t scored for 20 games before that. We kept five clean sheets, Robert Green was fantastic, Bobby Zamora scored two fantastic winning goals when we won 1-0 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Everton, but the fans played a massive part.

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley

Contrasting emotions: Alan Curbishley shows the strains of West Ham's relegation battle and celebrates staying up on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

One of the games was Wigan away where I
think we took more fans than Wigan had there, it was just incredible, we
just responded and won 3-0 there and that was the first time, after
that game that I felt, ‘We’re going to do this’.

I look at the teams down there at the moment, and Wigan especially, is it finally their year They’ve survived so many times in the last games of the season. And I’ve just got a feeling this FA Cup run is going to cause them a problem; they’re a game behind the rest of the league at the moment, when they play their semi-final they’re possibly going to be two games behind.

If they get to the final they’re going to have to make up at least two or three games when there are only eight games left.

It’s going to take an emotional toll, we’ve seen it before with teams getting to a cup final and going down, I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too much for them. They’ve still got to win games. Having games in hand is nice, but you’ve got to win them.

When I look at the table I think Reading, QPR and Wigan are the three who are going to go down.

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

I think the timing for Reading to sack Brian McDermott was poor. December is traditionally the vulnerable time for managers as the chairman will think, ‘If I bring a new man in, he’s got to have a chance to bring some new faces in and change it around a little bit.’

But history has shown that no club in the bottom three who have changed their manager in March have managed to survive.

But when you consider whatever the compensation involved in letting McDermott go, the prize, if
they do manage to turn it around, is massive. You’re talking 60-70million, so I can see why they’ve done it.

But I think most people in football would look at it and think, ‘Perhaps if you’d have done it earlier then you might have had a better chance’.

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Poor timing: Curbishley says it was the wrong time for Reading to sack McDermott (left) and get Adkins

All managers in football, especially in the Premier League, who find themselves down the bottom, know that if they don’t pick up results soon they’re in trouble. I just think that this was so late in the day.

I have not worked in management since I left West Ham in 2008, but my exile has been self-inflicted. When I left West Ham I felt they were in the wrong and I was in the right, and it took its time to be sorted out and that was detrimental to me.

But I’ve had opportunities to come back in and maybe I’ve been a bit too picky. Perhaps the advice to managers that have been out of the game would be to get back in as quickly as possible, because you are easily forgotten.

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

I’m still the sixth most experienced Premier League manager and I haven’t worked for some time now. It goes Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce then myself, so I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.

But someone’s got to be attracted by my record, and, not take a gamble, but I only really want to come back in the Premier League and that is difficult. I’d like a Premier League job. Certainly if it was a Championship club it’s got to be one I think is going to go somewhere.

I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment, and there’s a lot less pressure. But if anyone wants to look at my record it stands up with the best of them, so we’ll have to see.

Harry Redknapp gives Julio Cesar the nod to save Queens Park Rangers from relegation

Redknapp set to give Cesar the nod ahead of Green in bid to save QPR from Premier League relegation

By
Stuart Fraser

PUBLISHED:

12:23 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:24 GMT, 1 April 2013

Julio Cesar is tipped to be the man Harry Redknapp will rely on to save Queens Park Rangers' season during the relegation run-in.

The former Inter Milan goalkeeper, who joined as a free transfer during the summer and earns around 60,000-a-week, has been in scintillating form at times this season and grabbed the attention of plenty of Premier League clubs including Manchester United.

Well held: Cesar's good form at times this season looks like it has clinched him the No 1 shirt

Well held: Cesar's good form at times this season looks like it has clinched him the No 1 shirt

He has fought for the No 1 shirt with Robert Green all season, although the rivalry has been tapered by injuries, but will be given the job of helping keep QPR in the top flight for the final push.

Cesar has started in 21 Premier League matches to Green’s 11 and has kept five clean sheets to Green’s none.

Run-in: QPR's final eight Premier League games

Run-in: QPR's final eight Premier League games

The Brazilian has only dropped one ball all season — give him a catch success rate of 98 per cent — and has saved 74 per cent of shots to Green’s 60 per cent.

He has also made on average twice as many saves per game (4.1 saves per match).

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp has been maths teacher as well as manager to his players this week.

The Queens Park Rangers boss reckons that four wins plus two draws equals Barclays Premier League survival.

On the eve of the short journey to Fulham, winger Andros Townsend insisted: ‘The gaffer has said he thinks 37 points might be enough and we feel we are capable of achieving it.

‘We’re a confident group of players and we’re playing well at the moment. We can really take the game to the opposition.’

QPR will have to find a way past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, as his side aim for a top-10 finish.

Schwarzer, 40, has been instrumental in Fulham securing a mid-table berth with eight matches remaining this season and manager Martin Jol sees no reason why he cannot continue to do a first-rate job at Craven Cottage.

Jol has opened contract talks with Schwarzer and believes the Australian can continue playing until he is at least 42.

Calculations: Redknapp reckons four wins and two draws will see QPR safe

Calculations: Redknapp reckons four wins and two draws will see QPR safe

Paolo Di Canio"s politics don"t matter, his results do, says Sunderland fan

COMMENT: Sunderland fan of 30 years says put politics aside – it's only the results
that matter

By
Graeme Down, Sunderland Fan Of 30 Years

PUBLISHED:

12:35 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 1 April 2013

I was at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and witnessed Manchester United beat us fairly comfortably. We were very poor in the first half and just before the break I tweeted: ‘Half-time approaching. 1-0 United. #SAFC #Spineless #Depressing #Championship.’

I think my mood summed up the thoughts of the 40,000 Sunderland fans at the Stadium of Light. Everything our supporters demand from the players — passion, hunger and desire — was missing.

Then the news came through later that evening that life-long Sunderland supporter Martin O’Neill had been sacked.

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

For some weeks, I have noticed along with friends of mine that O’Neill’s body language left a lot to be desired. As a fan, we’d like our manager to immerse himself in the North East, the great footballing tradition of the region, and above all, be proud of managing a great club.

And we are a great football club.

League position aside, we have an average home attendance of just over 40,000 fans, we have a state of the art academy in place, and we have a wonderful football history.

But our club — as many are these days — is run by a foreign owner, Texan billionaire Ellis Short.

With seven games left to go and sitting just a point above the relegation zone, appointing a new manager, let alone one without Premier league pedigree, has left supporters feeling extremely nervous.

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

I expected us to secure a top 10 finish this season. We have spent 30million in three transfer windows, but our squad simply have not been good enough so far. Yes, we have injury problems but with games coming up, starting with Chelsea on Saturday, then the small event of a Tyne-Wear derby against our noisy neighbours Newcastle in less than two weeks’ time, it is a tough start by anyone’s standard.

Di Canio is potentially a good appointment, but this seems to me like another knee-jerk reaction to try and stay in the Premier league. There is of course the detail of another 60million of TV money at stake next season, and which owner would want to miss out on that

Then there’s his ‘facist’ political stance. How will the hard-working fans of the city take to his appointment, particularly given the club’s working-class heritage, never mind the sponsors of the club

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Personally, I have no opinion on his politics. Ultimately he has been appointed to get results and keep Sunderland in the Premier League — for supporters of the football club that is what fundamentally counts.

This a huge gamble by our board. For sure, l like his enthusiasm but does he really have the experience at this level The man we’ve just sacked had the experience, and as a motivator he was up there with the best. We all remember what happened to our ‘friends’ 10 miles up the road when Alan Shearer took over with eight games to go don’t we…

Time will tell. His appointment by Ellis Short is either a complete masterstroke, or a monumental catastrophe.

Sam Allardyce confirms he wants to keep Andy Carroll at Upton Park after two-goal display

I want him to stay: Allardyce confirms desire to keep Carroll at Upton Park after his two-goal display against West Brom

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 30 March 2013

Sam Allardyce cautiously underlined his desire to keep Andy Carroll at Upton Park next season after watching the striker fire West Ham to a vital 3-1 victory over West Brom.

Carroll has endured a difficult time in east London since he arrived on loan from Liverpool last summer, but he looked back to his menacing best today, scoring a fine brace which eased any lingering fears of relegation for Allardyce's men.

The 24-year-old fired a bullet header past Ben Foster to put West Ham 1-0 up and he then sealed the victory with one of the goals of the season following Gary O'Neil's strike.

Flying : The on-loan striker celebrates his goal

Loan ranger: Carroll notched his third goal of the season with a thumping header

Carroll watched the ball come over his shoulder after James Collins had sent a long punt up field and he volleyed past Foster with his right foot from a tight angle.

When asked whether he would like to retain the 6ft 3in striker's services next season, the West Ham manager said: 'The answer to that would be yes.

'There is always a possibility. We will look at the end of the season and we will se what negotiations can be done.'

Carroll's time in London has been blighted by injury, but he is now fully fit and judging by today's performance, it will only be a matter of time before he earns an international recall.

Opener: Carroll (centre) heads home O'Neil's cross to give West Ham the lead

In the air: Carroll headed home to give the Iron an early lead

Roy Hodgson omitted Carroll from his squad for the double-header against San Marino and Montenegro, but when the England manager comes to watch the footage of today's game at Upton Park, he will be impressed, Allardyce reckons.

'That was the best we have seen of him here,' Allardyce added.

'Because he has put two goals in, on top of a good performance.

'I hope this kicks him on to being a regular scorer for us in the next eight games.

'He is in a good frame of mind now and finally after a long wait his fitness is good and that's why you are seeing these performances and the goals are coming.'

West Ham are now two points short of the 38-point mark Allardyce thinks the club will need to avoid relegation.

Happy Hammers: West Ham players celebrate Carrol's early effort

Happy Hammers: West Ham now sit six points off the relegation zone with 36 points

The only disappointment for the West Ham boss today was the fact that he is likely to be without George McCartney for the rest of the season after he hobbled off with the same knee injury that had kept him out of the previous four months.

'I would have thought (he will miss the rest of the season),” Allardyce said of the left-back.

'It's a recurrence of the same injury, his medial ligaments, which is a very big disappointment for him and for us.

Downcast: Steve Clarke was disappointed with his side after the 3-1 defeat

Downcast: Steve Clarke was disappointed with his side after the 3-1 defeat

'That was the only downside for us today. Otherwise, it was a great day for us.

'It was a great performance and it takes us ever closer to that safety margin.'

West Brom were poor throughout
today's encounter. Aside from a deflected Romelu Lukaku free-kick in the
first half, Jussi Jaaskelainen barely had a save to make.

The only time the Baggies beat the Finn was three minutes from the end courtesy of a Graham Dorrans penalty.

West Brom boss Steve Clarke said: 'I can have no complaints about the result. West Ham deserved to win.

'It was a difficult afternoon but we haven't had too many of those this season.'

Clarke will speak to Youssouf Mulumbu tomorrow about his red card for petulantly kicking the ball at O'Neil in injury time.

'I said to the group after the game that they must control their frustrations,' the Scot said.

'It doesn't affect today's game but it affects our group and our squad and the next three games.
“We have a small group and it's a big loss for us.

'The time to speak about it is tomorrow. He probably did it out of frustration.'

Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott out of Arsenal"s Premier League clash with Reading

Crocked Wilshere STILL missing for Arsenal and Walcott is out, too… but Wenger confident Gunners will finish in top four

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

09:56 GMT, 28 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:17 GMT, 28 March 2013

Jack Wilshere has been ruled out of Arsenal's Barclays Premier League clash with Reading on Saturday.

The Arsenal midfielder hasn't played for the North London outfit since he injured his ankle in their defeat at Tottenham earlier this month.

Theo Walcott, who picked up a pelvic muscle tear on international duty, will also miss the visit of the relegation-threatened club this weekend.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere will not be fit to face Reading at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere will not be fit to face Reading at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott

Blow: Theo Walcott left the England camp early after picking up a groin strain before the San Marino clash

'Wilshere is still out,' said Wenger. 'Walcott is an accident that could have happened.'

The Arsenal boss also insisted he had no issue with England manager Roy Hodgson.

'When it’s competitive for England, like it was in the last two games, the manager has to pick his best team,' added Wenger.

'There's no ideal way when your
international manger is under pressure to deliver. There can be
complications between the two medical departments – because you can send
a player who is half-injured and they still play, so it is about
communication. But we have a good relationship with England.'

Arsenal host Reading on Saturday four
points adrift of rivals Tottenham having played one game less, and
despite the injury concerns at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger remains
confident the Gunners will qualify for the Champions League.

'There are nine games to go, five at
home and four away, and with the form we showed at Bayern Munich and
Swansea, I think we have a very good chance of finishing in the top
four.

'We have a special desire to be together at this club. This is a good opportunity for us and we want to grab this chance.'

Reading will arrive at the Emirates
seven points adrift of safety and under a new regime after former
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins was appointed earlier this week.

'We may play a team who are fighting
not to go down, but we fight to get in the top four so those games are
just as important for us, too,' added Wenger.

More follows…

Ghost goal in Spain – hits crossbar and bounces out

Not even close! Spanish ghost goal joins growing list of controversial strikes

The Reebok Stadium hosted a key relegation battle between Bolton and Rangers, and the visitors should have gone ahead but the officials ruled Hill's header had not crossed the line before being clawed out by Adam Bogdan. Replays showed the decision to be clearly wrong and Bolton won the game 2-1.

Juan Mata, Chelsea v Tottenham, 2012

Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea a goal that put them into a 2-0 lead in this year's FA Cup semi-final despite Benoit Assou-Ekotto appearing to block the ball on the line. The Blues went on to win 5-1 at Wembley.

Marko Devic, Ukraine v England, 2012

England were on the right side of a decision at the European Championships when Marko Devic's shot appeared to have crossed the line before John Terry hooked it out, but it was not given and England won the game 1-0 to top their group.

League One round-up: Oldham beat Hartlepool 3-0 in Lee Johnson"s first game in charge but Gary Johnson"s Yeovil lose 2-0 to Swindon

League One round-up: Johnson's Oldham era starts on a high… but his dad's promotion tilt with Yeovil suffers a blow

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

22:20 GMT, 19 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:39 GMT, 19 March 2013

LEAGUE ONE RESULTS

Bury 2-0 Stevenage

Crewe 2-1 MK Dons

Oldham 3-0 Hartlepool

Yeovil 0-2 Swindon

New Oldham boss Lee Johnson marked the first match of his managerial career by taking the Latics out of the npower League One relegation zone with a 3-0 win at home to fellow strugglers Hartlepool on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old, the son of Yeovil boss Gary Johnson, is the youngest manager in the Football League following his appointment on Monday.

On the rise: Swindon beat Yeovil 2-0 to move into third place in the League One table

On the rise: Swindon beat Yeovil 2-0 to move into third place in the League One table

LEAGUE ONE TABLE

League One

And he saw his new side go in front
after 17 minutes through Robbie Simpson's header, with Jean Yves Mvoto
nodding home a second shortly before the half hour.

Jose Baxter finished the visitors off in the 69th minute. The win took Oldham a point above the drop zone.

Gary Johnson could not match his son's success, though, as his Yeovil side slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Swindon.

Adam Rooney's 77th-minute penalty opened the scoring and James Collins made it two deep into stoppage time as the Robins moved to within a point of the top two, three ahead of their opponents.

Bury moved off the foot of the table, and sent Portsmouth bottom, as two late goals earned them a 2-0 win at home to Stevenage.

Steven Schumacher missed a 20th-minute penalty and it looked like that might be costly until Craig Jones broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute and Jonson Clarke-Harris made the points safe in the last minute.

Mathias Pogba scored twice as Crewe came from behind to beat MK Dons 2-1.

Patrick Bamford headed the Dons into a 31st-minute lead, but Pogba levelled nine minutes later and got the winner six minutes from time.

The Dons finished the match with 10 men thanks to Antony Kay's 86th-minute sending-off.

Home defeat: Gary Johnson's Yeovil were undone by second-half goals from Adam Rooney and James Collins

Home defeat: Gary Johnson's Yeovil were undone by second-half goals from Adam Rooney and James Collins