What they’re saying: Premier League managers reflect

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The first day of the Premier League season is in the books.

Goals, penalties, red cards, refereeing controversy and plenty more all came to the fore on a frantic and encapsulating opening day of action.

With six games down in the morning kick offs, let’s catch up with the men who make all the decisions and will either be reveling in victory, or wallowing in defeat as we speak.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup, Villa stun Arsenal, Saints, West Ham and Fulham also win)

We hear from every single Premier League manager following their teams first game of the 2013-14 season.

Here it goes. There will plenty of post-game chat from the gaffers in the coming weeks and months.

Arsenal 1 – Aston Villa 3

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on spending more money: “I’m there to buy, if we find them we’ll do it. I’m not the only one working on that. It’s not my money, it’s the money of the club. Why should I resist (spending)? I just defend the idea that you spend the money you have and not the money you don’t have. For years I did that. Today we have more so we can spend more. It’s as simple as that. Of course I am excited by that prospect but what I want to convince you of is that we are ready to spend the money if we feel that the players makes us a better team tomorrow morning.”

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: “I’m proud of them, they deserve credit. The front three lads are a handful for any team. We’re a really young side with enthusiasm and hunger for the game and to do well. There’s a long, long way to go, we will have ups and downs, but after that I’m over the moon.”

Liverpool 1 – Stoke City 0

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on the win: “It was a terrific performance all round – but of course, the goalkeeper gets the plaudits when he saves a penalty right at the end. Obviously when you don’t take your chances – and we created numerous chances and didn’t do that – and then get a penalty against you at the end, there’s sometimes that sinking feeling. I think from that, you also saw the spirit in the team, what we’re trying to cultivate here as well and the energy and attitude of the players.”

Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen: “When you come to Anfield for the first game of the season you know it’s going to be tough but we can’t fault the way lads stuck at it. Some teams have been known to go under here but going into the last 20-25 minutes I thought we were in the ascendancy. When you come to places like Liverpool you know you are going to come under pressure but we coped really well. The lads are disappointed; that’s natural when you get a penalty so late on and don’t score.”

Norwich City 2 – Everton 2

Norwich manager Chris Hughton on Ricky van Wolfswinkel: “He’s certainly done today what we wanted him to do. That’s about working hard for the team. He certainly gave us a good outlet up front. He’s a willing runner up front and I’m really pleased for him. It was certainly a nice feeling to get a goal on his debut.”

Hughton on the 2-2 draw: “I think it was a fair result. They showed what a good side they are. They are seasoned side so we are delighted with the result. You want to win every home game but overall I am quite happy.”

Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the result: “Conceding two goals made it difficult but we created some good chances and showed some good signs. In general terms I am delighted. We looked like a team that could create enough chances. It was a very positive start from a tricky fixture.”

Sunderland 0 – Fulham 1

Fulham manager Martin Jol: “I think it was a perfect away result but not a perfect performance. We had to grind out the result. It was a very scrappy game for us. Sunderland put so many players up front – they had four attacking players. We didn’t do well at times. We have to try to control the midfield – we didn’t do that in the first half and couldn’t keep the ball. Against an energetic Sunderland team… it was a bit easier than we thought, in hindsight.”

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio: “We played attractive football and dominated but in this country more than any other, set-pieces can cost points. It wasn’t even an incredible challenge in the air. We played in their half for 80 minutes and delivered 30 balls into the opponents’ area but didn’t put the ball into the net. The only clear ball into our box cost a goal. I warned my players before – the players from abroad have to learn. If my players learn quickly why we lost the game, we will have a very good season.”

West Ham United 2 – Cardiff City 0

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on Cardiff: “We came up to the Premier League having won more Championship games away than we did at home. But last year in the Premier League it was a huge task to pick up points on the road, we only won three games in the entire season away. Your home form is what you need to get right to stay in the Premier League. Hopefully with what Malky has brought to the club Cardiff will get the results they are looking for.”

Malkay Mackay on the defeat: “I thought we started the first 15-20 minutes slowly, after that we had plenty of possession. We knew we were coming to a good team, to play in a good atmosphere in a good stadium. And we knew we had to start better. They were clinical in the way they took that first goal. The last half hour of the first half we had a lot of possession but no penetration and a couple of shots that were blocked. But I cannot be too harsh on the players, overall it’s about learning and at times we gave a good account of ourselves.”

West Bromwich Albion 0 – Southampton 1

West Brom manager Steve Clarke: “I think it was (a harsh) result. We struggled to get into it in the first half but I think we had better control after the interval. The fans will be disappointed with me and the team. I’ll think about that (making new signings) more on Sunday. Today is all about disappointment. I’ve seen it. [penalty decision from referee] There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s a very soft decision.”

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino on the 1-0 win: “We are very pleased because the team performed very well and put in great effort today. I think we actually deserved to win 2-0 because we were disallowed a goal in the first half, which should have been allowed to stand. West Brom is a very difficult place to come against a very good team so overall we are very pleased.”

Report: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

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According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

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Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

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Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.