Sunderland v Everton - Premier League

What they’re saying: Premier League managers reflect

Leave a comment

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.”

Juninho hoping Willian breaks his Champions League free-kick record

xxxx during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 3, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Willian has scored six goals for Chelsea this season, with all six coming from free kicks.

Four of those have been scored in the Champions League, as the Brazilian has tied the record for the most free-kick goals in a single UCL campaign.

[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]

Willian is tied with his fellow Brazilian Juninho, known as one of the deadliest set-piece takers of all-time, who scored four times for Lyon during the 2005-06 campaign.

When asked about the possibility of his record being broken, Juninho was glad it would be by another Brazilian player, and said Willian will likely surpass him in the coming matches.

It’s good it’s a Brazilian, and from this new generation of good players we have.

It is very gratifying for me because when I scored these four goals, no one said anything.

I’m being remembered by what Willian has achieved, and I think he has everything to beat the record. The Champions League has barely reached half way and Chelsea still have a few more games to play.

Willian has converted 6 of 12 free kicks this season, scoring at an unheard-of 50-percent clip. All of his goals have come from almost the exact same spot on the pitch, about 20-25 yards out at the corner of the box to the keepers right.

[ WATCH: Jamie Vardy scores in record 11th straight Premier League match ]

Chelsea’s next Champions League match is on December 9 at Stamford Bridge against Porto. The Blues need a draw to advance into the knockout round.

West Brom’s Jonas Olsson backs Zlatan for Premier League move

SOLNA, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 14: Sweden 10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic durring a European Qualifier Play-Off between Sweden and Denmark on November 14, 2015 in Solna, Sweden.  (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

With his contract at Paris Saint-Germain expiring in the summer, where Zlatan will go next is one of the biggest mysteries in football.

Having already played in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France, the Premier League would be a logical next step in Zlatan’s career.

[ MORE: Aguero injury update ]

However, at 34-years-old, Zlatan himself has said it is “too late” for him to play in England, adding more mystery to where he will end up.

Despite what Zlatan says, his teammate on the Sweden national team Jonas Olsson believes the PSG striker is more than capable of playing in the Premier League.

Olsson, who has made nearly 400 appearances for West Bromwich Albion over the past eight seasons, said Zlatan’s elite talent would be fit for England’s top flight.

He’s still at the top of his game. He is the strongest player I have faced. I really hope he comes.

Zlatan on his day is the most talented footballer in the game. He has played under Mourinho before and the only place where he’s not 100% appreciated is in the UK.

I think he can play for any team in this league – he is still that good.

Even at 34, Zlatan has proven he is still one of the best strikers in the world. He recently became Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time leading scorer, and has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past four seasons.

[ VIDEO: Jamie Vardy speaks after scoring in 11 straight Premier League matches ]

The Premier League certainly has the money to entice Zlatan, and it is the biggest league in the world that he hasn’t conquered yet. Expect his name to be linked with a move to every major club in Europe for the rest of the year, as we’ll just have to wait until June and see what he decides.

Three questions ahead of Sunday’s MLS Conference Finals

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 22: Goal keeper Adam Kwarasey #12 of Portland Timbers slides in on Michael Barrios #21 of FC Dallas during the second half of the match at Providence Park on November 22, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

There are only two matches remaining before MLS Cup, with both conference’s top seeds in need of a big result.

FC Dallas lost to the Portland Timbers 3-1 in the first leg out West, while the New York Red Bulls fell 2-0 to Columbus Crew SC in the East.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Leg 2 of the Conference Finals will both be played on Sunday, as we will know the MLS Cup finalists by the end of the night.

WEST: FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 5 p.m. ET
EAST: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC — 7:30 p.m. ET

With each home-side needing to overcome a two-goal deficit, here’s what to look out for in the Conference Finals.

Will FC Dallas capitalize on home-field advantage?

Despite being down 3-1 on aggregate, FC Dallas will be looking forward to Sunday’s second leg. Dallas finished the season 13-2-2 at Toyota Stadium, the best home record in MLS. After scoring a crucial away goal in Portland, a 2-0 win for Dallas will see the side advance to the final. Their 33 goals scored at home was the second-best mark in the Western Conference, as Oscar Pareja’s men will feel confident despite the aggregate.

[ VIDEO: USMNT’s Fabian Johnson scores twice for Monchengladbach ]

Is Norberto Paparatto ready to replace Liam Ridgewell?

Norberto Paparatto has played just six matches for Portland this season, but it looks like he’ll be starting on Sunday. Liam Ridgewell, who started all 32 matches at center-back, injured his calf in the first leg and manager Caleb Porter said Paparatto will “most likely” be starting, as Ridgewell was seen warming up separately from the rest of the team in training. With FC Dallas in need of goals, Paparatto will have his hands full on defense, especially with the likes of Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz bombing forward.

Can Luis Robles keep a clean sheet for RBNY?

The Red Bulls’ Luis Robles was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year this season, and he’s going to need to play like that on Sunday. After losing 2-0 in the first leg without scoring an away goal, New York needs a 2-0 win themselves just to force extra-time. If Columbus scores at Red Bull Arena, New York needs to score four goals to advance. While it will have to be a collective team effort to keep the Crew off the scoresheet, Robles will have to make some big saves in goal to keep his side in it.

La Liga roundup: Barcelona win big in another dominant performance

<> at Camp Nou on November 28, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Catch up on all of Saturday’s La Liga action, as the trio of Messi-Suarez-Neymar continues to terrorize defenses.

Barcelona 4-0 Real Sociedad

In case you haven’t heard, Barcelona is scary good. Coming off of brilliant 4-0 and 6-1 wins over Real Madrid and Roma respectively, the Catalans trounced Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. It was the usual suspects once again, as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar (x2) scored the goals in another masterful performance. The M-S-N trio has accounted for 30 of Barcelona’s 33 goals in La Liga this season.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Espanyol

While the boys from Barcelona may be getting all the headlines, Antoine Griezmann has been having a great season for Atletico Madrid. The French international scored the game-winner in Atletico’s 1-0 win over Espanyol, his tenth in all competitions this season. The good news is that Atleti sit second on the table with a five-point lead over Real Madrid in third, while the bad news is that midfielder Tiago broke his leg in the match.

[ WATCH: Everton, Bournemouth trade late goals in stoppage-time thriller ]

Malaga 2-2 Granada

In a battle of teams fighting for La Liga survival, Granada came from behind to steal a draw at Malaga. The home-side was leading 2-0 until Granada tallied twice in the final ten minutes to take a huge point for the club. Malaga remains glued to the bottom of the table, while Granada is currently out of the drop zone on goal differential.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 0-1 Real Betis
Las Palmas 0-2 Deportivo
Celta Vigo 2-1 Sporting Gijon
Getafe vs. Villarreal (Sunday, 6 a.m. ET)
Eibar vs. Real Madrid (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET)
Rayo vs. Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 12:15 p.m. ET)
Sevilla vs. Valencia (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET)