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Abou Diaby is set to return for Arsenal

Good news for Gunners, Diaby's back… but where have we heard that before

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UPDATED:

19:30 GMT, 27 December 2012

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed that long-term injury concern Abou Diaby is close to a return to action and will begin training next week.

The French midfielder started the season in rampant fashion, earning praise for his dominating performances as Arsenal went unbeaten in their first five games.

Brazilian left back Andre Santos is also set to return to training next week.

Back again: Abou Diaby (left) is close to a return, he started the season in rampant fashion as Arsenal went unbeaten in five

Back again: Abou Diaby (left) is close to a return, he started the season in rampant fashion as Arsenal went unbeaten in five

Injury-ravaged: However the midfielder has a history of injury problems, only making 171 appearances in six years for the Gunners

Injury-ravaged: However the midfielder has a history of injury problems, only making 171 appearances in six years for the Gunners

Indeed, Arsenal's first loss of the season came at home to Chelsea when Diaby had to limp off with an injury after just 17 minutes.

Before his injury Arsenal had recorded three clean sheets in their first three games, including an impressive 2-0 victory at Anfield where Diaby was awarded man of the match.

Diaby's dominating play was a feature in the away win against Montpellier in the Champions League and in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad.

Marauding: Brazilian left-back Andre Santos is also expected to make a return soon

Marauding: Brazilian left-back Andre Santos is also expected to return soon

However Diaby's fitness has always been a concern with the midfielder blighted by injuries throughout his career.

Options: The return of Diaby and Santos means that Arsene Wenger (pictured) only has Lukasz Fabianski missing

Options: The return of Diaby and Santos means that Arsene Wenger (pictured) only has Lukasz Fabianski missing

He has already missed 22 games this season and only made 171 appearances in just under six years with the club.

'They [Diaby and Santos] should be coming back into training with the squad next week,' Wenger said on www.arsenal.com.

Their return means that backup goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is the only first-team player remaining on the often-maligned Arsenal medical table.

'It is unusual, especially at this period of the season,' Wenger added.

'It is down to the continuing good work we are doing behind the scenes at the club.

'We hope that it continues because it is important to go into January with a full squad and we will be losing Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations.'

WITH DIABY

With Diaby (in all competitions):

Played: 6 (1 in Champions League)

Won: 2 (1 in Champions League)

Drawn: 3

Lost: One (only played 17mins)

Goals For: 6

Goals Against: 3

League points: 6 out of 15

WITHOUT DIABY

Without Diaby (in all competitions):

Played: 21 (9 in other competitions)

Won: 11 [through in CL]

Drawn: 4

Lost: 5 [lost to Bradford]

Goals For: 52

Goals Against: 30

League points: 24 out of 39

Stoke City defence among best in Europe

Europe's meanest defences: Bayern, Juventus, PSG, Malaga and… Stoke

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 23 December 2012

It was not the prettiest way to earn a point, but Stoke City will not care about that. The goalless draw for Tony Pulis’s side at Tottenham was their eighth consecutive match unbeaten – their best run since returning to the top flight in 2008.

‘You have to respect them,’ said Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas. ‘I admire other types of football, but you have to respect Stoke.’

The foundation of their form has been defence: the best in the Barclays Premier League in terms of goals conceded (just 13 in 18 games) and clean sheets (nine). Here is a closer look at what Villas-Boas calls one of the ‘best defences in Europe’.

Cornered: Kyle Walker of Spurs faces a wall of Stoke defiance

Cornered: Kyle Walker of Spurs faces a wall of Stoke defiance

HARD WORK

Stoke’s work-rate is frightening. They chase and hurry their opponents, closing them down within seconds, and get back into position quickly. They tired a little during the second half against Tottenham, but you could not help but applaud and admire Stoke’s work ethic and intensity at White Hart Lane.

‘We do work very, very hard,’ said Pulis. ‘There’s a great spirit among the lads. They’ve had a Christmas party by themselves – everybody turned up and had a great night and they took the wives out and had a great night with their wives.’

CONSISTENT SELECTION

Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth have started every Premier League game in central defence for Stoke this season. Compare that to Steven Caulker of Spurs, who has partnered Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen.

Leading by example: Captain Ryan Shawcross marshals the back four

Leading by example: Captain Ryan Shawcross marshals the back four

Stoke’s success is based on each player knowing their role in the system, while the manager offers constant reminders as he barks instructions from the touchline.

‘We spend a lot of time on our system,’ said Pulis. ‘And if the players don’t, they don’t play.’ Simple.

DEFENDING DEEP

Stoke’s back four seem to squeeze the final third of the pitch, leaving no space behind for their opponents to exploit. It took Tottenham at least 20 minutes to realise Jermain Defoe was not going to be effective playing as the most advanced striker because there was no opportunity to sprint on to a through ball – or anything delivered over the top.

Emmanuel Adebayor was sent up to do aerial battle with Shawcross and Huth, but there was no chance for Defoe to pounce on the second ball.

WHO’S GEOFF CAMERON

Stoke’s right back on Saturday used to play for Rhode Island Stingrays. The USA international has been quietly impressive since his move from Houston Dynamo last summer. Not many players frustrate Gareth Bale so much that he moves to the right wing.

The gaffer: Pulis gives his instructions from the touchline

The gaffer: Pulis gives his instructions from the touchline

64 keeping it clean.jpg

HEIGHT

Aaron Lennon had no chance on Saturday, did he Stoke’s back four lines up like a rugby second row: Cameron (6ft 3in), Huth (6ft 3in), Shawcross (6ft 3in) and Wilkinson (5ft 11in). They seize advantage at corners and set-pieces and force opponents to play the ball to feet.

PLAYING ON THE COUNTER

Stoke counter-attack with pace, power and discipline, something Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters did particularly well on Saturday. But Stoke average less than a goal a game this season as the joint lowest scorers in the top flight along with QPR and Aston Villa. They have scored only 15 goals.

NO-ONE LIKES US, WE DON’T CARE

Stoke revel in their reputation as the so-called enemies of football. It can work against them sometimes when it comes to refereeing decisions, but Tottenham knew exactly what to expect on Saturday and yet still could not break them down.

Villas-Boas said: ‘If it was easy, then Stoke wouldn’t have one of the best defences in Europe. They’ve proved that. There’s no space behind, they’re well organised, they do well on the counter and through crosses they are taller than you.

‘When you play through passes, they outnumber you.’

Arsenal weighing up January move for Simon Mignolet from Sunderland

Arsenal weighing up January move for Sunderland's Mignolet as back-up for Szczesny

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UPDATED:

14:49 GMT, 23 December 2012

Arsenal are calculating a January bid for Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, to give Arsene Wenger the back-up he needs.

First-choice at the Emirates, Wojciech Szczesny, is still one of Wenger’s favourites, but the Gunners boss has lost confidence in bench-warmers Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone.

Fabianski is free to seek a new club in January and while Mannone has presented competition for Szczesny, may opt to find first-team football elsewhere.

Target: Sunderland's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is wanted by Arsenal

Target: Sunderland's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is wanted by Arsenal

Still No 1: Wojciech Szczesny is still considered to be the first choice keeper at Arsenal

Still No 1: Wojciech Szczesny is still considered to be the first choice keeper at Arsenal

Wenger is believed to be prepared to lodge 5million for Mignolet, who is likely to be a more cost-effective target than preferred custodian, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.

The Belgian has made 18 appearances this season, kept six clean sheets and is said to be a target for Chelsea.

Arsenal reserve stopper Damian Martinez has been singled out by Wenger as a key prospect and will be promoted to become the first team’s No 3, potentially creating a very attractive second-choice place.

Chief scout Steve Rowley has ruled out bidding for Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi and Asmir Begovic of Stoke, on the grounds of their erratic and inconsistent performances.

Tottenham 0 Stoke 0: Spurs frustrated by Potters at White Hart Lane

Tottenham 0 Stoke 0: Frustration for Spurs as Potters claim deserved point

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 22 December 2012

Stoke lived up to their billing as one of the best defensive units around as they put in a stubborn display to deny Tottenham victory at White Hart Lane.

Spurs could have gone third in the Barclays Premier League with a win, but the visitors proved too hard to break down thanks to a predictably tough display from Tony Pulis' side.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund regularly complained at the physicality of the Potters, who had four players booked during the match.

But the draw was more to do with the imperious performances of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth than any perceived bully-boy tactics.

On the run: Gareth Bale is chased by Ryan Shotton

On the run: Gareth Bale is chased by Ryan Shotton

Match facts

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon (Sigurdsson 78), Sandro, Dembele (Parker 85), Bale, Defoe, Adebayor.
Sub not used: Friedel, Gallas, Naughton, Livermore, Townsend.
Bookings: Vertonghen, Sandro.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Shotton (Whitehead 64), Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington (Crouch 69), Jones (Jerome 66), Walters.
Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Upson, Kightly.
Bookings: Cameron, Wilkinson, Nzonzi, Whitehead, Walters.

Attendance: 35, 702.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table

Villas-Boas had described the Potters
defence as one of the best in Europe on Thursday and his assessment
proved correct as the strong duo kept Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain
Defoe quiet for almost the entire match.

Gareth Bale, returning to the Tottenham side after his hamstring injury,
went close with a second-half header, as did Gylfi Sigurdsson in
added-time, but for the most part Spurs were restricted to long shots.

Stoke, who have kept nine clean sheets this season, have now gone eight
matches unbeaten for the first time since the Premier League began.

Tottenham, meanwhile, head to Aston Villa on Boxing Day in fifth
position after rivals Arsenal and Everton both won their respective
matches, and Villas-Boas will no doubt see this as a missed opportunity
to start the festive period with a bang.

Sliding in: Jermain Defoe challenges Stoke's Robert Huth

Sliding in: Jermain Defoe challenges Stoke's Robert Huth

On the ball: Jan Vertonghen is closed down by Stoke pair Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shotton

On the ball: Jan Vertonghen is closed down by Stoke pair Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shotton

Stoke made a bright start, stifling the home side in the first five minutes amid a quiet atmosphere inside White Hart Lane. Just 45 seconds had gone before Kyle Walker fed a hospital pass straight
in to the path of Kenwyne Jones, but he lost his balance and could only
shoot over.

Spurs sought to match Stoke's physicality in midfield with a couple of
hefty tackles early on, but Sandro went too far five minutes in when he
earned a booking for a dangerous studs up challenge on Glenn Whelan.

Stoke had all the early play, but Hugo Lloris remained untested in the Spurs goal. Bale fired in a low cross, but the imperious Huth hooked the ball clear before Defoe could get to the ball.

The eyes have it: Tottenham's Emmanuel Adebayor controls the ball under pressure from Glenn Whelan

The eyes have it: Tottenham's Emmanuel Adebayor controls the ball under pressure from Glenn Whelan

Stoke soon hit back through Steven N'Zonzi, who fed Jones on the
counter-attack. The striker beat Lloris, but Sandro scrambled back to
clear off the line. Back up the other end Jan Vertonghen used some silky skills to beat
three Stoke players and cross for Defoe, but the ball just evaded the
diminutive striker.

Vertonghen was booked for a late tackle on Whelan and was back in the
thick of the action moments later with a deflected shot that flew in to
Asmir Begovic's hands.

Battle: Tottenham's Aaron Lennon clashes with Andy Wilkinson

Battle: Tottenham's Aaron Lennon clashes with Andy Wilkinson

Bale put in one of his trademark lung-busting runs and beat his marker, but Shawcross cleared before Defoe could tap in.

The Welshman charged at the Stoke defence 60 seconds later and this time
found his target at the back post, but Adebayor could only head over.

Spurs started to take control of the match and went close to breaking
the deadlock just before the break through Mousa Dembele, who fired half
a yard over the bar.

Stay on your feet, Aaron: Lennon and Andy Wilkinson tussle for the ball

Stay on your feet, Aaron: Lennon and Andy Wilkinson tussle for the ball

The physical nature of the game showed no sign of relenting after the re-start. Just over 30 seconds of the second half had elapsed before Andy Wilkinson saw yellow a foul on Aaron Lennon.

Pulis fumed at Bale just before the hour when he went to ground in an attempt to win a free-kick just outside the box.

Not their day: Jermain Defoe's reaction here says it all

Not their day: Jermain Defoe's reaction here says it all

Spurs had their best chance of the game so far when Bale leapt to meet Lennon's cross, but he could only head over.

Stoke hit back on the break the following minute through Geoff Cameron,
who sprinted down the left to found Ryan Shotton, but his attempt on
goal was weak.

Shotton paid the price for the miss as he was withdrawn for Dean
Whitehead, who saw yellow for tangling with Vertonghen barely a minute
after he entered the pitch.

Every reason to smile: Stoke manager Tony Pulis saw his side claim a fine point

Every reason to smile: Stoke manager Tony Pulis saw his side claim a fine point

Do it this way: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas directs his team

Do it this way: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas directs his team

Bale and substitute Sigurdsson drove at the Stoke defence, but they had
to shoot from distance as the away side looked to close out the game.

Cameron and N'Zonzi entered the book in the final 15 minutes as the game threatened to boil over.
Spurs threw everything at the visitors, but they could not find a way through.

On the sidelines: Stoke's Michael Owen watches from the bench

On the sidelines: Stoke's Michael Owen watches from the bench

Bale went down in the box, but Lee Mason waved play on, as the match entered its final stages.

With just seconds of the four minutes of added time played, Sigurdsson had a chance to win it, but
Begovic pulled off a world-class save and the hosts had to settle for a
point.

Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1 match report: Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley, Wayne Rooney score goals

Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1: No slip up as Van Persie inspires Old Trafford stroll

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UPDATED:

17:02 GMT, 15 December 2012

Robin van Persie's 15th goal of the season ensured Manchester United will spend Christmas Day on top of the Premier League tree as the Red Devils eased past Sunderland.

Tom Cleverley's first league goal at Old Trafford and Wayne Rooney's fifth in four games were enough to keep United six points clear of neighbours City, with Frazier Campbell's header against his old club scant consolation for the Wearsiders, who remain deep in relegation trouble.

Yet perhaps the most significant moment of the entire game came with Nemanja Vidic's introduction midway through the second-half.

The main man: Robin van Persie enjoyed another fruitful afternoon in a Manchester United shirt, opening the scoring after 16 minutes with a cool finish (below)

The main man: Robin van Persie enjoyed another fruitful afternoon in a Manchester United shirt, opening the scoring after 16 minutes with a cool finish (below)

On target: Van Persie converts

Match facts

Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand (Vidic 68), Evra, Valencia, Carrick (Scholes 46), Cleverley (Giggs 73), Young, Rooney, Van Persie. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Hernandez, Welbeck, Fletcher.

Goals: Van Persie 16, Cleverley 19, Rooney 59.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Cuellar, Colback (McFadden 85), O'Shea, Bramble, Larsson, Gardner, Johnson (Campbell 68), McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher (Wickham 46). Subs not used: Westwood, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Saha.

Goal: Campbell 72.

Referee: Chris Foy.

Attendance: 75,582.

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Plagued by injuries since August
2011, Vidic's absence during last season's run-in contributed to
United's defensive wobbles and the Serbian is viewed as the main way of
plugging the leaks that have been so obvious for a side who have still
only kept three clean sheets all season.

Not for the first time, Sir Alex
Ferguson used the build-up to offer support to an under-fire colleague,
only for his team to dismantle them 24 hours later.

In ridiculing those who questioned
Martin O'Neill's credentials, Ferguson was ignoring statistics that
showed the Black Cats had won just twice in the Premier League this
season, both on home soil against teams – Wigan and Reading – that are
alongside them in the mire.

Within 20 minutes here, it had become apparent this was not going to be number three.

Ferguson had insisted those cheeky
celebrations by Sunderland fans when the title was snatched away from
their last-day visitors in May would play no part in the outcome.

Fine effort: Tom Cleverley curls his effort past helpless Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet

Slick finish: Tom Cleverley curls his effort past helpless Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet

Nevertheless, there was a sense of purpose about United's start which has rarely been matched this season.

Patrice Evra had already wasted one
excellent opportunity when Ashley Young wriggled away from Carlos
Cuellar close to the dead-ball line, then cut a cross back which Van
Persie finished expertly.

Scoring streak: Wayne Rooney netted his fifth goal in three Premier League games

Scoring streak: Wayne Rooney netted his fifth goal in three Premier League games

Yet the goal also needed significant
assistance from John O'Shea, who got himself into a muddle as he tried
to clear Young's cross, which allowed Van Persie to profit.

Given Wes Brown's own-goal was the
difference in last season's corresponding fixture, Sunderland's
ex-United contingent have not had the happiest of returns to old haunts.

Rising high: Fraizer Campbell nods home against his former club to hit Sunderland's consolation goal

Rising high: Fraizer Campbell nods home against his former club to hit Sunderland's consolation goal

Within three minutes, the hosts had their second.

If Cleverley wants to assume the Paul Scholes mantle, he needs to start finding the net more consistently.

Back in action: Nemanja Vidic made a welcome return to the heart of Manchester United's defence - but the Serb could not prevent Campbell's consolation strike

Back in action: Nemanja Vidic made a welcome return to the heart of Manchester United's defence – but the Serb could not prevent Campbell's consolation strike

And after two goals against Newcastle
earlier in the campaign, the England man finally got his first in the
Premier League at Old Trafford.

It was a gem too as Cleverley
exchanged passes with Michael Carrick before drilling an excellent
effort past Simon Mignolet from 12 yards.

Knockout: Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet and Titus Bramble struggle to contain Patrice Evra

Knockout: Mignolet and Titus Bramble struggle to contain Patrice Evra

With United scenting blood, Wayne Rooney wasted a glorious chance when he volleyed wide from Van Persie's knock-down.

The England striker then steered a near-post header wide from Evra's cross as the Red Devils threatened to run riot.

Close control: Van Persie receives a pass at Old Trafford

Close control: Van Persie receives a pass at Old Trafford

Half-time was approaching before
Sunderland carved out their first meaningful opportunity, which Stephane
Sessegnon struck Evra with before it flew over.

The interval introduction of Conor
Wickham for the injured Steven Fletcher did trigger a flurry of activity
around the United goal as David de Gea denied Craig Gardner and
Sessegnon.

Yet the clear chances kept falling to the hosts.

Held up: John O'Shea (second right) battles with Van Persie as Phil Jones gets stuck in

Outnumbered: John O'Shea (second right) battles with Van Persie as Phil Jones gets stuck in

Rooney's shot rattled the bar after flicking off Titus Bramble, with Young blazing the rebound over.

Then, given the number of goals he
has scored so far this season, came the somewhat surprising sight of Van
Persie lobbing wide after Young had sent the Dutchman running clear of
an over-stretched Sunderland defence.

Missed opportunity: Rooney reflects on one that got away

Missed opportunity: Rooney reflects on one that got away

There was little argument to be made
for a Black Cats comeback and any pretence was ended just before the
hour when an unselfish overlapping run by Van Persie was followed by a
deft piece of skill that took him between Cuellar and Bramble before he
set up Rooney, who tapped home from close range.

With victory assured, Ferguson felt sufficiently confident about easing Vidic back into the fray.

Long afternoon: Martin O'Neill looks on as his side were outclassed at Old Trafford

Long afternoon: Martin O'Neill looks on as his side were outclassed at Old Trafford

After only 13 appearances in a
16-month period that included a calf injury and two lots of knee
surgery, the 31-year-old desperately needs to stay injury free in order
to rediscover his old form.

Evidently, Vidic has plenty of work
in front of him too judging by the uncharacteristic mistake that
eventually led to United old-boy Campbell heading home from close range.

Alan Shearer: Sunderland boss Martin O"Neill has one game to save his job

Lose to Reading and it could be the end for Sunderland boss O'Neill, says Toon hero Shearer

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 10 December 2012

Alan Shearer believes Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has one last game to save his job.

The former Newcastle legend turned BBC pundit says the visit of Reading on Tuesday night in the Barclays Premier League will be crucial to O’Neill’s survival.

Sunderland have lost five of their last seven Premier League matches while O’Neill’s side have won only one of their last 11 league fixtures at the Stadium of Light.

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill watched his Sunderland side slump to defeat at home to Chelsea at the weekend

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill watched his Sunderland side slump to defeat at home to Chelsea at the weekend (below)

Spot of bother: Two goals from Chelsea's Fernando Torres helped see-off Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Writing in his column in The Sun, Shearer said: ‘Martin O’Neill has faced some mighty games as a player and manager in his career. None, however, in his 12 months in charge at the Stadium of Light will be bigger than tomorrow night’s visit of Reading.

‘The fans have not turned but they are on the brink. If they don’t beat Reading at home tomorrow their patience will snap.

‘I hate to suggest people are facing the sack. But his next two games after tomorrow are Manchester United away then Southampton away.’

Making his point: Newcastle legend Alan Shearer believes O'Neill has one game to save his job at Sunderland

Making his point: Newcastle legend Alan Shearer believes O'Neill has one game to save his job at Sunderland

Sunderland have attempted only 46 shots on target in the Premier League this season; the fewest of all sides.

But there is hope — No side have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Reading.

Ipswich 3 Millwall 0 – match report

Ipswich 3 Millwall 0: Lions' unbeaten run comes to an end with humbling defeat

PUBLISHED:

17:24 GMT, 8 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 8 December 2012

Millwall's 13-match unbeaten run came to an end as resurgent Ipswich recorded a third successive npower Championship victory thanks to a brace from DJ Campbell.

The Lions went into the encounter as the second tier's form side having won four of their last five, boasting four successive clean sheets in the process.

And they should have taken the lead as they enjoyed the better of the opening half-hour, Chris Wood heading a great chance over while Town goalkeeper Stephen Henderson denied Andy Keogh, Liam Trotter and James Henry.

Easy as that: DJ Campbell (left) celebrates after scoring Ipswich's third

Easy as that: DJ Campbell (left) celebrates after scoring Ipswich's third

MATCH FACTS

Ipswich Town: Henderson, Cresswell, Chambers, Smith, Orr (Hewitt 88), Edwards, N'daw, Martin, Drury, Campbell (Chopra 84), Murphy (Barnett 84)

Subs not used: Loach, Higginbotham, Carson, Emmanuel-Thomas

Booked: Martin

Goals: Campbell 37, 64 (pen), Murphy 50

Millwall: Forde, Shittu, Lowry, Beevers, Smith, Trotter, Henry, C Taylor (Wright 56), Abdou (N'Guessan 56), Keogh, Wood

Subs not used: M Taylor, Smith, Osborne, Malone, Feeney

Booked: Beevers, Wood

Referee: Coote

Attendance: 17,380

The latest Championship table, results and fixtures

Campbell punished the visitors as he
then converted a flowing move from close range for his seventh goal in
12 games since joining on loan from QPR.

The striker turned provider five
minutes after half-time as he chased down Danny Shittu, gained
possession and fed Daryl Murphy to sweep home.

Campbell then bagged his second from
the penalty spot after Shane Lowry's handball – Town's fourth successive
game in which they have been awarded a spot-kick.

Campbell's form will certainly give QPR boss Harry Redknapp food for thought, with his loan stay due to expire in January.

It is the first time Ipswich have
recorded three successive wins in 10 months while Mick McCarthy has now
won five of his eight games since taking charge.

The game's first chance went to Town striker Murphy after seven minutes but he could only head wide from Lee Martin's cross.

Henderson made his first smart save
from Keogh's header before Lions strike partner Wood wasted a golden
opportunity, nodding Henry's free-kick over the bar from five yards.

Millwall's profligacy was their
undoing on that occasion but they were denied twice by some superb
goalkeeping by Henderson just after the half-hour mark.

Trotter was kept out as Henderson parried his effort and from the rebound Henry saw his shot tipped around a post.

Murphy fired over from 12 yards for Town before Ipswich opened the scoring in the 37th minute courtesy of a well-worked move.

Martin released Aaron Cresswell down the left and he delivered a great cross for Campbell to convert from close range.

It proved the final act of note in
the first half but Town fans did not have to wait long after the break
for a second as Campbell turned provider.

The striker chased down Millwall
defender Shittu and, when he gave away possession, Campbell squared for
Murphy to convert from six yards.

David Forde had to be alert to
prevent a third as he tipped Martin's free-kick over the bar, before
Campbell fired off target when presented with a great chance from close
range.

But the points were wrapped up in the
64th minute when Lowry was penalised for handball, leaving Campbell to
convert from the spot.

Shittu went some way to making up for his error late on when he denied Martin a fourth, clearing off the line.

Tony Pulis glad to see Stoke beat QPR

Forget the stats, I'm happy however way we win, says Stoke chief Pulis

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UPDATED:

15:23 GMT, 11 November 2012

Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted he had been glad to take a victory however it came after seeing his side defeat QPR 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters' win was only the second they have registered in their 11 Barclays Premier League games this season, and in 17 including the end of last term.

QPR were the better team for long periods of yesterday's contest and Pulis had no hesitation in rating his side's display as one of their poorest of the campaign.

Get in: Charlie Adam sealed Stoke's second win of the season over QPR

Get in: Charlie Adam sealed Stoke's second win of the season over QPR

Overall, though, he was delighted simply to have three more points in the bag.

'I think the most important thing was to win the game,' said Pulis, whose team moved up to 12th in the table on 12 points.

'I think we have played better in the previous 10 games than how we did (against QPR).

'But the longer you go without winning a game, you get nervous, uptight and a little bit edgy.

'I thought our supporters were brilliant – they could have been edgy as well, but they were very good – and the result was more important than the performance.

'We are very, very pleased that we have got the win.'

He added: 'Hopefully that will be a little bit of a monkey off the players' shoulders and it will give us that little bit of confidence to step up again.'

Pulis has said he feels his team are playing the best football this term that he has seen from them since their promotion to the top-flight in 2008, and was keen after the QPR match to emphasise how happy he was with their home record for the campaign so far, which also shows draws against Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland and a victory over Swansea.

'That is 11 games now, and five at home,' Pulis said.

'Our home form has been fantastic so far and we have four clean sheets from those.

Down and out: Adel Taarabt spurned a decent chance for Rangers

Down and out: Adel Taarabt spurned a decent chance for Rangers

Ouch: Jonathan Walters cut his head during the clash

Ouch: Jonathan Walters cut his head during the clash

'We have played Arsenal and Man City, as well as tough games against Sunderland and QPR. So the return at home has been very good.'

Charlie Adam netted the decisive goal, slamming the ball home in the 52nd minute when QPR allowed it to bounce through to him from Jon Walters' flick-on.

It was Adam's first goal since his summer move from Liverpool, and asked about the midfielder, Pulis said: 'I am pleased. We have moved him around a little bit, trying to get him into positions where he will score or create chances for us, and thank goodness he has come up with a goal for us.'

While Adam's finish brought relief for Stoke, QPR boss Mark Hughes was left rueing the profligacy of his side as the wait for their first victory of the season continued.

With the winless Rs bottom of the table on just four points after 11 games, five points adrift of safety, the pressure is mounting on Hughes, who has described next Saturday's clash with second-bottom Southampton at Loftus Road as 'huge'.

Happy: Tony Pulis was glad to bag the win at the Britannia

Happy: Tony Pulis was glad to bag the win at the Britannia

Asked if it was a must-win match, Hughes said: 'Yes, it is a huge game.

'It was always going to be in fairness, just by virtue of where we are in the league.

'We have to make sure this week that we build up to it correctly in terms of our preparation, which I thought we did really well this week, as we always do.

'We understood exactly the problems we were going to face (against Stoke) and we will do the same leading into the Southampton game and make sure we get three points.'

Hughes had been satisfied with his team's performance in many ways, suggesting the defensive lapse for the goal was one of very few in the game, but stressed that they had to make the most of their chances.

Better team QPR created a number of chances to get back into the game

Better team QPR created a number of chances to get back into the game

Writing on his Twitter account, QPR owner Tony Fernandes – who has publicly backed Hughes over the past few weeks and was watching from the stands yesterday – made it clear in his assessment that next weekend's match against the Saints was 'must win'.

Fernandes said: 'We got to cut out errors. One error cost us and we got to take our chances.

'Team played as planned. Must win next win (sic). No panic. Table is compressed.

'Defense was awful now fairly solid. Midfield strong. Got to score now.'

He added: 'Love everything about QPR. Nothing comes easy but the pain will be worth in (sic).

'We are in for the long run. We live and learn. Doing our best.'

Ryan Giggs demands quick starts from Manchester United

Giggs demands United switch on from the start after worrying trait of falling behind

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UPDATED:

15:39 GMT, 26 October 2012

Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs knows the team cannot keep relying on their famous powers of recovery.

Having staged some remarkable comebacks over the years, United are renowned for their ability to respond after falling behind.

Yet this season it is a trait they have had to demonstrate all too often having fallen behind on eight occasions in all competitions.

Keep focus: Ryan Giggs wants United to improve how they start games

Keep focus: Ryan Giggs wants United to improve how they start games

In all but two of those games, against Everton and Tottenham, they have hit back to win but Giggs is aware United are playing a risky game.

The 38-year-old said: 'That's probably the biggest disappointment from this year, the number of times we've gone behind.

'But on the plus side we've managed to come back in the majority of them and win them. Obviously we can't go throughout the season like we have been doing.

'We know that if we get clean sheets then we'll create chances at the other end and win more games than we lose.'

United beat Stoke 4-2 last time out domestically after conceding the opening goal and found themselves in a trickier situation in the midweek Champions League clash with Braga after falling two behind.

They hit back to win 3-2 thanks largely to a double from striker Javier Hernandez.

With Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney having notched their first club goals of the season against Stoke and Robin van Persie in fine form, attacking options are at least strong.

Giggs said: 'They're all different, which is good. Depending on the team we're playing against or the fixtures coming up the manager can chop and change as necessary.

Flying to the rescue: Javier Hernandez is the latest saviour of a bad situation

Flying to the rescue: Javier Hernandez is the latest saviour of a bad situation

'Shinji Kagawa can also play off the front, I can play there, Tom Cleverley can play there. We've got a lot of flexibility.'

Giggs believes United have also shown pleasing signs of further versatility this season by adapting well to the diamond formation manager Sir Alex Ferguson has sometimes deployed.

The former Wales winger said: 'In the game against Newcastle at St James' Park, that first 20 minutes was probably the best football we've played all season – that was with the diamond. But we need to do that for 90 minutes.

'With Antonio (Valencia) missing the game and Ashley Young injured we were short of width a little bit. So the diamond made sense and it means we have that flexibility now.

'Maybe we'll need to use it in some big games – you might see it in Europe – but United, more often than not, will play with wingers.'

Stuart Pearce confident England U21 can beat Serbia

Pearce confident his young Lions can survive in hell and make Euros

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 13 October 2012

Manager Stuart Pearce is confident England have the steel to survive a trip to 'hell' when they take a 1-0 lead into their European Under-21 Championship play-off second leg in Serbia on Tuesday night.

A 66th-minute penalty by West Bromwich Albion defender Craig Dawson at Carrow Road on Friday gave Pearce’s Young Lions a narrow advantage to defend in the Krusevac cauldron.

Narrow advantage: Craig Dawson celebrates scoring the only goal of the game

Narrow advantage: Craig Dawson celebrates scoring the only goal of the game

Pearce’s team ground out a 0-0 second-leg draw in Romania two years ago to qualify for the finals after a 2-1 success in Norwich and Pearce is backing his side to become the first to qualify for four successive Under-21 finals.

Pearce said: ‘The team two years ago probably had more of a cutting edge but we’ve kept seven clean sheets in qualifying, which is a great achievement.

Confident: Stuart Pearce believes his young Lions can survive in Serbia

Confident: Stuart Pearce believes his young Lions can survive in Serbia

‘There will be a big difference playing in Serbia but I think we have enough talent to go there and win.’

But one Serbia player warned: ‘Our supporters are much louder than the English. It will be a trip to hell for them.’