Roberto Martinez thinks timing is not in Everton’s favour ahead of Monday’s Premier League clash with QPR. Rangers have won two of their last three games, beating fellow strugglers Leicester and Burnley to climb out of the relegation zone. QPR’s leading scorer Charlie Austin is suspended following his dismissal against Burnley but Martinez has been impressed by Harry Redknapp’s side. Among the disappointing results have been draws with Hull last time out and Swansea, and defeat by Crystal Palace. It has been a frustrating start to the season for a team that have ambitions of challenging for the top four, but Martinez is confident a better run of form is round the corner. He said: “We enjoy playing at home because it’s your environment and you can affect things a lot easier. “Every game is difficult. I know it’s a cliche but it’s true. In every other league you can count two or three games a season that maybe you can cruise through. That doesn’t happen in the Premier League. “We need to be a team that are capable of getting points away from home as well as at home but it’s true that at the moment, points wise, we’re not reflecting what we want and we’re catching up a little bit. “That means that we need to get a big run of good results and that starts with a strong, confident performance at home. “We’re getting very close to the half-way point of the season, the squad is strong, we’ve had a lot of good experiences, the competition for places is huge and I do feel we’re ready to set really high standards in the league that I believe are going to give us the points that our performances would deserve.” The Everton manager said: “QPR had a little bit of a difficult start because obviously when you get new players you’re trying to find the right combinations. “I think Harry Redknapp now has found the right formula and they are in the best moment of their season. They’ve been unfortunate in a couple of games, I think they should have had more points than what they’ve got. “I know they’ve got Charlie Austin missing for this game but I think this group are in a good moment and we respect them hugely. “I’ve always admired Harry Redknapp as a manager with his experience and his management skills and know-how.” What should play in Everton’s favour is that the game is at Goodison Park, and QPR have yet to pick up a single point on their travels. Martinez is wary of reading too much into that, though, saying: “The results that they’ve had have been well deserved. Even away from home, I thought the Southampton performance they were very unfortunate not to get a reward from that. “You don’t look back when you face a team. All you’re looking at is how well you can perform and obviously we’re looking at a very important period for us in the league to try to get as many points as we can.” Goodison has hardly been a fortress for Everton so far, with the Toffees winning only two of their seven home games in the league. Press Association
Speaking of Valseur Lido, who like Don Poli is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, Mullins said: “He’s a fair sort too and could be an RSA horse. “The Moriarty is a race I had set out for him but I wouldn’t want to put him and Don Poli together. “We didn’t want to run him at Christmas as it gave us more options then in January. “He’s in good form.” Press Association Willie Mullins is keen to keep his two top-notch novice chasers apart with Don Poli and Valseur Lido in the mix for the Dr P.J. Moriarty Chase. Valseur Lido was last seen winning the Drinmore Novice Chase by eight lengths from Apache Stronghold, while Don Poli beat the same Noel Meade runner by three lengths in the Topaz Novice Chase on Monday. In recent seasons the Moriarty has been a good pointer towards the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival a month later.
West Ham, who had lost both their Christmas fixtures so far against Chelsea and then Arsenal, were unable to up the tempo in the second half, as the Baggies showed Pulis should have a solid base on which to plot their safe passage up the Barclays Premier League table. It was a positive start by West Brom, as midfielder Stephane Sessegnon caused some problems with his driving runs. On eight minutes, West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell weaved his way into the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Ben Foster, claiming afterwards he was tugged back by Gareth McAuley. Referee Jon Moss, though, thought otherwise. The defender then had a hand in West Ham’s goal on 10 minutes after being released down the left by Stewart Downing. Creswell got to the by-line before he clipped over a first-time cross, which Sakho headed into the far corner for a ninth goal of the season. Foster then made a smart save to deny Downing after he cut in from the left and drilled an angled shot goalwards. On 23 minutes, West Ham were indebted to goalkeeper Adrian, who pulled off a string of fine saves against Arsenal, after the Spaniard turned away a fierce volley from Chris Baird following a cross by Youssouf Mulumbu. Sessegnon then fired wide when well placed 10 yards out, which just about summed up the Baggies fortunes this season. The former Crystal Palace and Stoke boss has signed a two-and-a-half year contract at The Hawthorns to replace Alan Irvine, who was sacked on Monday. The Baggies, who had started the day in 16th place and just a point off the dropzone, had to recover after falling behind to an early goal from Diafra Sakho, but went into half-time level after Saido Berahino equalised on the break. The Baggies – who had assistants Rob Kelly and Keith Downing manning the dugout – continued to look dangerous on the break, and were level on 42 minutes. Berahino pushed the ball out to Sessegnon on the left, and he carried it forwards to the edge of the West Ham penalty area, before squaring back to his team-mate, who dispatched a low shot into the bottom right corner for a first goal since October 25. West Ham looked lacklustre again at the start of the second half, when a deflected shot from Berahino had Adrian scrambling across his six-yard box to palm the ball away. Mulumbu cut in from the right and smashed his shot into the side-netting as the Baggies pressed again. West Ham made a change on 55 minutes when Matt Jarvis replaced Morgan Amalfitano and the home side opted for two wingers. Cresswell was inches away from making it 2-0 when his curling 25-yard free-kick hit the base of the far post. Enner Valencia came on for Sakho, who is set to head off to the African Nations Cup, in the 72nd minute, after the forward looked to have injured his back in a goalmouth scramble. West Brom also used the break in play to make a change as Berahino was replaced by Brown Ideye. West Ham sent on Carlton Cole, replacing Andy Carroll, for the closing stages, but the home side could not make any pressure count, with the Baggies finishing strongly as substitute Silvestre Varela saw a curling effort deflected wide in stoppage time. Press Association New West Brom manager Tony Pulis watched from the stands as his side battled to a 1-1 draw at West Ham.
Newcastle defender Steven Taylor’s season could be over after he suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon. “I have known Steven since he was in the Centre of Excellence and he is a great lad. It was great for him to get the goal at a set-play, it was set up for him. “But when he landed, you could tell the way he landed it was something to do with the calf or Achilles and unfortunately it’s not looking good.” It proved a day for casualties on Tyneside as Burnley lost three men before half-time with Jason Shackell and Dean Marney leaving the field under their own steam and Kevin Long, who was making his league debut as a 17th-minute substitute for Shackell, being carried off on a stretcher just 18 minutes later. The 28-year-old, who had earlier given his side the lead, limped off the pitch an hour into the Magpies’ 3-3 Barclays Premier League draw with Burnley at St James’ Park on Thursday afternoon and acting manager John Carver later revealed the club’s medics are fearing the worst. Carver said: “Unfortunately, we have lost Steven Taylor. It looks like he has ruptured his Achilles tendon – and it’s not the one he did previously, so I think that’s the end of him now for the season. Press Association
Branislav Ivanovic was booked during the same flashpoint for attempting to prevent Atkinson withdrawing the red card from his pocket. Chelsea had been coasting until Matic’s dismissal with Ivanovic firing them into a 14th minute lead, but the melee sparked a revival from Burnley who saw Barnes go close before Ben Mee headed in the equaliser. The eventful final 21 minutes at Stamford Bridge concluded a miserable week for the Blues, who have been desperate to repair the damage caused when footage emerged of a small group of their fans racially abusing a black man on the Paris Metro on Tuesday night. Once again they expressed their anger after a commuter was prevented from boarding a train amid chants of ”we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”. John Terry used his captain’s notes in the matchday programme for Chelsea’s annual ‘Game for Equality’ to describe the incident as “unacceptable”, while chairman Bruce Buck admitted the event had placed the club at a “crossroads” in their fight to stamp out discrimination. Another potential storm looms on the horizon, however, after police confirmed on Saturday morning they are seeking a gang of men – believed to be Chelsea fans – who were heard shouting racist chants at London St Pancras on Wednesday night. It was against this backdrop that the Premier League leaders met relegation-threatened Burnley and the relief from controversy they sought appeared imminent as they poured forward in search of a second, but it was the visitors who finished the stronger team. The match had barely started when Juan Cuadrado looped a header that keeper Tom Heaton parried to safety with his fingertips, but by the 14th minute Chelsea were ahead. Matic was shown a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson for pushing over Ashley Barnes after taking exception to a nasty one-footed lunge from the forward. John Terry and Kurt Zouma restrained Matic as he seethed at the tackle, before the Serbian eventually left the pitch knowing he now faces a three-match ban for violent conduct. Chelsea’s troubled week ended in further controversy when Nemanja Matic was sent off as Burnley plundered a late 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge. Burnley’s defence was caught dithering and Eden Hazard capitalised, weaving a seemingly impossible path to the byline before pulling back to Ivanovic who drilled the ball home from close range. The sublime interchange that followed moments later between Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar was worthy of a second, but they were guilty of over-elaboration when the trigger needed to be pulled. Ivanovic had a penalty appeal for handball rejected by referee Atkinson and apart from a smart save by Thibaut Courtois, it largely remained one way traffic. Atkinson had a bigger call to make on the stroke of half-time when Jason Shackell appeared to push Costa over, but the official waved play on and was met with jeers from home fans. Stood in the technical area, an incredulous Mourinho shook his head with his face breaking out into a wry smile. Barnes tried his luck from long range with a dipping shot and would have been successful but for the reflexes of Courtois. Chelsea were quickly back on to the offensive, Oscar playing a beautiful ball through to Costa who ghosted into a strong position only for his shot to lack power, enabling Heaton to deny the Spaniard. The Blues were pushing hard for a second as Costa almost connected with a fine cross by Ivanovic before scrambling defence stopped another attack at the crucial moment. Matic was dismissed and Barnes almost beat Courtois, before Burnley plundered the equaliser when Ben Mee leaped high between two defenders to nod home at the far post. Press Association
Murray had already drawn a number of saves out of Adrian before opening the scoring with a huge stroke of luck as his header was sliced into his own goal by the unwitting Aaron Cresswell. He then headed home Jason Puncheon’s free-kick to put the game beyond the Hammers and, with fellow forwards Fraizer Campbell, Yaya Sanogo and Marouane Chamakh all out injured, Pardew was full of praise for Murray. “He’s got that nous as a number nine to find that space and be in the right place at the crucial time,” he said. “He could have had a hat-trick in the first half and, I hope he doesn’t feel I’m insulting him, but he ain’t the quickest. “Teddy (Sheringham) coaches here at West Ham and I had him as a player. He’s a bit like that in creating room and chances for himself without pace. He’s clever.” Having spent time out on loan earlier in the season as former Palace boss Neil Warnock deemed him surplus to requirements at Selhurst Park – but Pardew had other ideas. “We had four Championship teams that felt they had a chance of him on loan – Reading the most prominent as he has been there,” he added. “But I gave him a new contract and said ‘you’re going to stay here and help us get out of this situation’. Alan Pardew hailed the “terrific” Glenn Murray after the Crystal Palace striker scored a brace in a convincing win at West Ham. “He’s been unfortunate as Fraizer came in and did brilliantly for us – so he’s had to be patient but he’s rewarded me in this game and I can’t thank him enough – he was terrific. “I felt sorry for him that he was sent off. It was probably my fault – I should have got Shola (Ameobi) on earlier. But it was too late.” Murray, who will now miss Tuesday’s clash with Southampton through suspension, said he was guilty of a number of “stupid fouls” in the lead up to his dismissal by referee Mike Dean. “Obviously it’s great to get a couple of goals but I’m disappointed to get sent off, it was just a reaction and I think the referee was almost waiting to send me off after a few stupid fouls,” he told Sky Sports. “I gave him that option and he took it. We spoke about it at half-time – ‘don’t make a challenge’ – and I managed not to outside the box but it was just a reaction inside the box unfortunately. “He just said there’d been a few niggly little fouls and he’d kept having to stop the game so he’d said: ‘no more’.” Allardyce felt Murray had been lucky to remain on the pitch for as long as he did and also lambasted Mile Jedinak for a late elbow to Diafra Sakho, but was more critical of his own side’s display. “We spent a long time looking at Palace’s set-plays and 50 per cent of their goals this season came from them,” he said. “So you know how dangerous they are, they put a good ball in and have five or six big players that attack the ball. But we were setting out our plan to compete with that. “Even though Palace were better than us on the day we lost on that tactic alone and that is really disappointing. “You concede one then you give Palace credit. When you concede one that is our fault. That is something we should have done better on.” The 31-year-old scored two headers either side of a Scott Dann goal before being sent off for two bookable offences. Enner Valencia’s first Barclays Premier League goal in four months reduced the deficit for West Ham – but the 3-1 defeat means Sam Allardyce has now only seen his side win one of their last 10 league outings. Press Association
John Terry believes Chelsea’s first Premier League title win in five years is just the start of a new era of trophy gathering at Stamford Bridge. Blues captain Terry will on May 24 lift the Premier League trophy for a fourth time and first since 2009/10 after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace gave Jose Mourinho’s men an unassailable lead with three games to spare. Terry has been an integral member of Chelsea’s squad for more than a decade and has played every minute of all 35 of the Premier League matches this season. “He’s been brilliant,” Terry said. ” He deserves a lot more respect as well. “We’ve been top since day one. It’s a big feat to do that. We’ve done it right from the start. “He deserves an awful lot of credit and his team around him. Teams come here and make it difficult, sit behind the ball. “He finds a way to break them down. That’s why he’s the best. We love working with him.” Didier Drogba is another survivor from the Mourinho side which won Chelsea’s first championship in 50 years a decade ago. The 37-year-old striker returned to Stamford Bridge last summer after two years away and could leave the Blues again at the end of the season when his contract expires. “I told you when I signed here I come here because I want to win the league again,” Drogba said. “The last time we won (in 2010) I was here. I was very happy. It’s a special day again.” Frank Lampard, who scored the two goals at Bolton in April 2005 which earned Chelsea the title, has spent the season at Manchester City after his 13-year stay at Stamford Bridge ended last summer. Lampard wrote on Instagram: “A massive congratulations to all my old teammates and friends at @chelseafc for winning the Premier League. “A huge achievement and well deserved by everyone at the club. Also to all those fantastic fans that I had the pleasure to play for for 13 years. I know how much it means to you all!” Terry’s central defensive partner Gary Cahill won the FA Cup and European Cup within six months of moving to Stamford Bridge from Bolton in January 2012. But he has had to wait a further three years for the coveted Premier League. Terry said of Cahill: “He’s won everything. He’s been brilliant since he arrived. I love playing alongside him. “We’ve got a great partnership on and off the field as well. He’s got many more years than me here, for sure.” Cahill addressed the criticism Chelsea have received for favouring substance over style in recent weeks. “We’ve shown this season what we’re capable of at times,” he said. “Winning well, playing great football, and also digging in when we need to. We’ve got both aspects of the game in this squad and hopefully we can win many more.” Press Association The 34-year-old, who has already signed a new contract until the end of next season, is optimistic the current squad can replicate the achievements of Mourinho’s first squad, which won the 2004/05 Premier League and stayed together for much of the next decade, culminating in the 2012 Champions League win. “This is the start of a new group, a new era and for sure this current group are going to go on to win many more trophies for the club,” Terry told Chelsea TV. “This is a tough trophy to win. It’s been five years since we won it. It will take a few days to sink in. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been great this season, fully deserve it. Absolutely delighted to get it.” Terry has 14 major trophies with Chelsea. He added: “Still going, hopefully there’s many more to come as well. With the squad we’ve got, who knows? “We’ve showed great strength and character this year to come and do it.” He reserved special praise for the tactical nous of Mourinho, who now has three Premier League titles after switching to a more pragmatic approach as the title drew near.
Pellegrini stressed he wants Milner to stay at the Etihad Stadium but he admitted the final decision rests with the player himself. “It’s a decision James must take at the end of season, what is better for his future,” Pellegrini said. “I always talk that he is an important player for our team, he can play in different positions because he is an intelligent player. “He always gives 100 per cent but it will be sorted at the end of the season. “I can think (staying at Manchester City) is best him for him but it’s important what he thinks.” Asked if he wanted to keep Milner, Pellegrini replied: “Yes, of course. He is a very important player for us.” Swansea’s defeat ended their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League as Garry Monk’s men will now definitely finish eighth. But manager Monk said missing out on Europe should take nothing away from a campaign which has seen Swansea record their highest-ever Premier League finish and their greatest points tally. “I think we’ve shown quite clearly with the run of form we’ve been on that we wanted to get into Europe,” Monk said. “We pushed all the way to try to get there and it would have been a great reward for the season we’ve had. “But hopefully now we have a chance to recruit properly and try to surpass what we have done this year in the Premier League, although we know it will be tough.” Swansea were criticised by Arsene Wenger for what the Arsenal manager perceived as negative tactics in the Welsh club’s 1-0 smash-and-grab victory at the Emirates Stadium. But Monk said the performance showed that Swansea could take on the best in an attacking contest. “We got criticised last Monday for apparently not playing football, and I wanted the players to show we can go toe-to-toe with one of the top sides when we choose to,” Monk said. “I think we proved we can do that. Yes we lost the game, but if we had taken one or two chances, or Joe Hart had not made some incredible saves, we could have got something from the game. “We didn’t quite get a result, but I think we have shown what a strong group we’ve got and hopefully next season we can be even better.” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insisted Joe Hart must keep improving if he is to become the best goalkeeper in the world. “It was a beautiful save in a very important moment,” Pellegrini said after his side had tightened their grip on second spot with a fifth consecutive league victory. “Joe is the number one goalkeeper in England and I think he has improved a lot this season. “Bringing Willy Caballero was good for him, giving him good competition and also working with the goalkeeping coach Xabier Mancisidor. “It’s important for him but he most important thing is he has an open mind. “He is only 28 years old and he must improve in a lot of things, but he is working hard to do it. “It is difficult for a young goalkeeper to be so good at the start of his career and it is difficult to compare him with all the other goalkeepers here. “There are three or four good goalkeepers in this league, but Joe must improve and not think he knows every thing at this moment. Every day he works hard.” James Milner scored City’s second goal and gave another performance full of endeavour and commitment, even though he is out of contract at the end of the season and he may move on this summer. Hart produced possibly the save of the season in City’s 4-2 Barclays Premier League win at Swansea, his flying one-handed stop preventing Federico Fernandez’s 82nd-minute header from making it 3-3. The England goalkeeper made another point-blank save from Bafetimbi Gomis two minutes later before Swansea old boy Wilfried Bony, on as a late substitute, settled matters in injury time with only his second City goal. Press Association
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri refused to comment on any bid but admitted he admired Gray. He said: “I don’t speak about speculation, only when a player arrives. There are some good players like him but it is not only him. We are looking around at everything.” Birmingham turned down several offers from Bournemouth – the final bid rising to £5million with add-ons – in January. Gary Rowett is determined to keep the England Under-20 winger who made 43 appearances, scoring six goals, for Blues last season. Ranieri is looking for wide men despite the impressive form of Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton at the King Power Stadium. Mahrez has scored four goals in his first three games of the season but Ranieri is looking for back-up, despite having no intention of selling the Algeria international. The Foxes go to Bournemouth on Saturday after an unbeaten start in the Barclays Premier League which sees them sit joint second. But Ranieri warned against getting carried away following their start and reiterated his survival target. He said: “Now we must stay calm, continue to fight. Our goal is to reach 40 points as soon as possible. “Everyone now is smiling but it’s my job to remind everyone there are smiles and bad moments. Remember the bad moments now so you have the right balance. When we lose we remember the good moments.” Press Association The Foxes were interested in the 19-year-old and made a move for the winger but Press Association Sport understands it is unlikely to happen. Gray signed a new deal at the club this month and is expected to remain at St Andrew’s beyond the end of the transfer window. Demarai Gray is set to stay at Birmingham despite Leicester’s interest.
While Ireland have named their premier playmaker in their starting line-up, the 30-year-old will still most likely use all the available time until Sunday to ensure his groin issue has healed completely. When asked if selecting Sexton carried any risk, Ireland head coach Schmidt insisted: “Not really. “If he’s fit he’s fit. “We don’t tend to take too many risks with injured players. But there are always risks in everything you do. “We’ve allowed Johnny to build his way back into the week. He had a fairly light start to the week but trained fully in the Millennium Stadium this morning. “And we feel he’s ready to go. It’s been a very light training week, we’ve got a few guys carrying bumps and bruises. “But we’ve got 48 hours more to freshen and hopefully be ready to go on Sunday.” Ireland must face Argentina without pivotal pack leaders Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien, and have chosen to address the problem by drafting Jordi Murphy into their back row. Press Association Chris Henry starts at openside flanker as expected, with Iain Henderson therefore slotting in alongside Devin Toner at lock. Ireland boss Schmidt has resisted the temptation to shift Henderson to blindside flanker and pair Donnacha Ryan with Toner, keeping the changes to a minimum after captain O’Connell’s tournament and Test-career ending hamstring injury. O’Connell headed to London for surgery on his torn hamstring on Thursday but was expected to return to Ireland’s World Cup camp and be on hand for the build-up to the last-eight battle. O’Mahony has already returned to Cork as he starts the long process of recovering from knee ligament damage. O’Brien will sit out Sunday’s Pumas clash owing to his one-match ban for punching France’s Pascal Pape in the first minute of last weekend’s Pool D decider. Schmidt backed Jordi Murphy to cope with the pressure weighing down on his shoulders as he steps into the last-eight battle. “Jordi has started Six Nations matches for us, he’s played six before, and he can also operate across the back row,” said Schmidt. “And we felt this was probably his best position having rehearsed running in that position more often than anyone else. “We did think about putting Iain Henderson there and putting Donnacha Ryan in at lock, and that may still happen during the game. “But we felt Iain Henderson added a little more ballast to our tight five because the back five of the scrum had lost a lot of experience.” Joe Schmidt has insisted there is no risk in throwing Johnny Sexton into Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final with Argentina despite the fly-half’s lingering groin injury. Ireland have opted to gamble on throwing in their linchpin fly-half from the start against the Pumas in Cardiff, even though the Leinster pivot has fought a fitness battle all week. Sexton trudged out of Ireland’s 24-9 victory over France at the Millennium Stadium after just 25 minutes last weekend, then immediately set about working to be ready for the last-eight encounter.