• What They Said

What They Said: Benitez says Ba can partner Torres

ESPN staff
January 5, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Demba Ba netted twice as Fernando Torres watched from the bench in Chelsea's win over Southampton © PA Photos
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Rafael Benitez insisted Demba Ba and Fernando Torres can play together after Chelsea's new signing scored twice in Saturday's 5-1 FA Cup third round win over Southampton: "It is always important for a striker to score goals but more than just the goals was his contribution for the team," Benitez said. "His movement and understanding of things we were wanting to do was really good. He was very clever and he could understand the movement of the players. He did everything well on the pitch. I prefer to have this selection problem now than to have just one striker. It is important to have good players and different options, and Ba and Torres can compete or play together."

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins offered little complaint after additional strikes from Victor Moses, Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard inflicted a hefty beating on the home side: "Chelsea were very good second half," he said. "We started brightly and scored a good goal, but the big killer blow was the goal before half-time. In the second half they demonstrated the good players they have got. Give them credit. They have good football players and a good manager and staff. [Juan] Mata was exceptional."

Alan Pardew hinted that not enough of his players are big enough to wear the Newcastle jersey after they were beaten 2-0 at Brighton: "We are missing too many of our top players. The season we're having we just need to get our best players back," Pardew said. "We need to sustain ourselves and make sure we are a Premier League team next season. We know we need to get some bigger players who can handle the situation of carrying a Newcastle jersey, whether that's a signing or getting a player back from injury."

Brighton boss Gus Poyet admitted he felt Newcastle were there to be beaten after goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins: "We realised the opportunity and we were lucky that Newcastle couldn't bring their best players," Poyet said. "We didn't create too many chances today but we were a good team to play against a Premier League team."

Manchester City assistant manager David Platt talked up the potential of Marcos Lopes after the youngster scored the third in City's 3-0 win over Watford: "He has got a big smile on his face at the moment," Platt said. "He came away with us in pre-season and did really well. He has great technical ability and for the Under-21 team he has been scoring a lot of goals like that. He has got a good future ahead of him certainly."

Gianfranco Zola was left to rue the miss of Fernando Forestieri at 1-0 as goals from Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Lopes killed Watford off: "In my opinion with a little bit more coolness we could have scored a goal," Zola said. "That was a big moment and the second City goal was another big point. Normally Fernando [Forestieri] is good but I don't know what happened, I think he looked at the goalkeeper and that is something you should never do."

Tottenham assistant boss Steffen Freund set his sights on winning the FA Cup after watching Spurs cruise past Coventry 3-0 thanks to Clint Dempsey(2) and Gareth Bale: "We know what we want to do in the league, we have won the cup eight times before and we would like to go all the way this year,'' Freund said. "It was a professional performance. In the first half it was a different class. It was a great performance and we deserved the win."

Kieron Dyer rescued a draw for QPR © PA Photos
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Coventry manager Mark Robins confessed he feared for his team as soon as he saw the Spurs starting XI: "We always knew it would be difficult but it got more difficult when we saw the team sheet,'' Robins said. "When you come to places like this you always hope the team you play against has a bit of a dip and that they take a few liberties, but they didn't."

Paul Lambert hailed Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia after their returns from injury in Aston Villa's 2-1 win over Ipswich, but revealed Ron Vlaar is likely to be out for another two weeks while Marc Albrighton requires a scan on his foot: "Darren came back along with Charles and Gabby [Agbonlahor]," Lambert said. "Those three lads only really trained yesterday and have been out for a long time so that was really pleasing. Charles N'Zogbia is certainly a talent, there is no two ways about it. It was a big thing for him to play because he has been out for well over six weeks. That first goal was Darren Bent down to a tee, but I thought his game was very good, his whole work ethic and the way he played. His finish was top class.

"Albrighton had a kick on his metatarsal - the same injury he had at the beginning of the season. I don't know if it is fractured or anything like that but it is roughly about the same area."

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy insisted Championship survival remains top priority, and he revealed he would like to sign QPR striker DJ Campbell on a permanent basis after his recent loan spell at Portman Road: "When I came, the remit was to stay up and that has not changed. Maybe a replay would have got in the way but you don't like to lose and, when we were 2-1 down in the final minute, I would have taken a replay. I spoke to [Campbell] last night and told him I'd like to sign him. We will have to see what happens.''

Roberto Martinez was happy to praise Bournemouth after Wigan were held 1-1 at home, thanks to Jordi Gomez's late equaliser for the Latics: "It's no coincidence that they've had a 16-game unbeaten period," Martinez said. "I thought they were really well organised. They played with really good tempo and off the ball they worked extremely hard. And on the ball they tried to play, get the ball wide and they had good pace in the team so overall I thought it was a really good Bournemouth side."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was left to query the decision to book Marc Pugh for diving when felled inside the Wigan area: "Marc is not the type of player who goes to ground easily,'' Howe said. "If he goes to the floor I would bank on it being a penalty. And their penalty was disappointing. It was one of those 50-50 decisions and unfortunately it went against us.''

Harry Redknapp said it was important for QPR's league survival hopes that they did not lose to West Brom, following Kieron Dyer's 90th-minute equaliser: "It was important we didn't get beat because losing is a bad habit," Redknapp said. "I was pleased the lads kept battling away. We hung in there. Maybe the Chelsea game knocked a bit out of a few of the lads - one or two looked tired - but credit to them, they kept going. It keeps momentum going from Chelsea and hopefully we can continue that against Tottenham."

West Brom's joint assistant head coach Kevin Keen promised the Baggies will put QPR under pressure in the replay: "We felt the game was going to peter out but we slipped up at the end," Keen said. "But these things happen in football and, along with QPR, we're in the draw for the next round. We're going to take them back to the Hawthorns and have a real go at them there."

Luton Town manager Paul Buckle claimed it was impossible to tell who were the underdogs after Alex Lawless' goal dumped Wolves out of the FA Cup: "They will struggle to pick out the Blue Square Premier side when watching the highlights, they'll see a very good Luton team,'' he said. "We have to use this to kick on in the league - we know we have to put a run together. We've been in this division for four years, and I'm looking for the magic wand to get us into the Football League."

Defeat for Wolves meant Stale Solbakken had recorded three wins from his past 17 games. Speaking before his subsequent axe, he said he did not feel the pressure: "There will be a lot of questions over me but that is normal, that's football and I have to take that, it's no problem,'' he said. "I can put it right. I'm not embarrassed by the result."

Steve King issued a hands-off warning to anyone interested in Matthew Barnes-Homer after the Macclesfield striker's double against Cardiff fired the Silkmen into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history: "People wrote Barnes-Homer off and said he wasn't going to score but I believed in him,'' King said. "You have to know your players and how to nurture them and what their needs are. Matthew is an unusual character sometimes but I know how to handle him and how to get the best out of him. He's not for sale and we are in the process of a new contract for him because he's earned it. He took a huge wage cut to come here so he deserves it."

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay did not regret changing his line-up for Saturday's encounter, saying: "We picked a team here that we felt was capable of winning the game and I thought there were some fantastic performances. I don't regret picking this team, I think they did wonderfully."

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway was upbeat about his side's 0-0 draw with Stoke, saying he believes his philosophy is beginning to take root at Selhurst Park: "It's looking like my team now, and if that's after eight weeks, I'm looking forward to the rest of the four years," Holloway said. "I wanted to win or lose, basically, and wasn't bothered which, as long as we had a good performance. But the way the game went I'm glad we didn't lose because I don't think my boys deserved to lose."

Elliott Bennett sent Norwich on their way to victory © PA Photos
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Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted Palace probably had been the better side as the Londoners stuck to their task even when the Potters' big guns were introduced: "They've got some dangerous players in their team and we are pleased with the result," Pulis said. "They are a good side, Ian Holloway's got them well-motivated and it was always going to be difficult. I was bringing on players like Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome and Charlie Adam to try to win the game. But both teams are in the draw so that's something to look forward to."

Chris Hughton said Norwich's 3-0 beating of Peterborough was founded on treating their Championship opponents with a proper respect: "Half-time was crucial, I felt, and if they get one back it could be a tough afternoon but I thought we were very professional first to last," Hughton said. "Sometimes you get a feel for the game early on and I felt if we could score then it was there for us because our approach from the first minute was very professional."

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill insists naming six substitutes for their 2-2 FA Cup third round draw at Bolton was not meant as a message to owner Ellis Short: "It was not a point whatsoever, it is the way things fell,'' O'Neill said. "I think I get on reasonably okay with the owner. He is well aware so I think he wants to do something about it. We had a couple of injuries and illnesses, we don't have the biggest squad and we were really stretched but we've lost a couple more. We are trying to do something about it if we can, we need to."

Bolton manager Dougie Freedman had mixed emotions at the final whistle, after seeing goals from Chung-Yong Lee and Marvin Sordell cancelled out by Connor Wickham and Craig Gardner: "From a 2-0 lead I'm disappointed but overall I'm thrilled with the result because I thought we showed great commitment and desire at the end to defend for our lives,'' Freedman said. "For the first 60 minutes I thought we controlled the game and we played a style of football I like to play."

Reading manager Brian McDermott was keen not to let the Royals' 3-1 victory over Crawley Town distract him from the important business of Premier League survival: "It was important we won today and we have done that," McDermott said. "We made a few changes but we put out a team we thought could win and that is what happened. We are in the results business and we need to get a result against West Brom [next]."

Crawley Town fans chanted 'sort it out' towards manager Richie Barker during the loss to Reading, leaving the Reds boss more than a little unhappy: "I will do the best I can and one day when I've gone, a bit like my old club, people will realise how well I did," Barker, whose side lie eighth in League One, said. "The expectations are ridiculous."

Martin Jol revealed he had broken a promise to rest a "knackered'' Giorgios Karagounis after watching the veteran's sensational equaliser rescue Fulham in a 1-1 draw against Blackpool: "He's been in the team now over the last three games and I told him he could play 60 minutes today because he played the other games,'' Jol said. "I had to leave him on and I think he's not only a legend in his country, but he's a warrior for us."

Blackpool boss Michael Appleton admitted he would have taken a replay before kick-off: "It was their strongest side, so I am pleased to come away and still be in the hat and have the chance to bring them down to the Bloomfield Road cabbage patch,'' he said. "It is as bad a surface I have even seen in the league. I don't think Fulham will be comfortable or enjoy playing there."

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