- What They Said
What They Said: 'Angry' Mancini shuns the media
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini refused to face a media cross examination after his side's faint hopes of retaining their title all but disappeared with a 2-0 defeat at Everton, leaving assistant David Platt to answer the critics.
Platt hinted it is a matter of time before Manchester United are crowned champions after City were beaten by a resurgent ten-man Everton.
"Nobody's been shouting from the rooftops saying that we're going to chase Manchester United down," Platt told Sky Sports. "They've got a significant points advantage over us. Even if we had won the game today it would probably have been 12 points this afternoon. We have an obligation to win football matches between now and the end of the season and while it is not mathematically impossible to catch them, even when it is, we have an obligation to win football matches."
Platt confirmed the City camp were furious with referee Lee Probert's decision to award a free-kick even though Everton's Marouane Fellaini handled inside the box four minutes from time, but admitted the Premier League champions deserved nothing from the game.
"He [Mancini] is angry, as you can imagine. He's just taking stock of the situation and is calming down himself. He doesn't want to come out and say things that might get him in trouble. We weren't really at it - all through the game we were out-worked by Everton and when you have moments in the game when you get back into it and it doesn't go for you, it's frustrating."
Everton boss David Moyes hailed his players as they recovered from the setback of losing Steven Pienaar to a red card after an hour, saying: "We were very good and we have been for the majority of the season. We have had one or two dips along the way, but that was more like us today."
Brendan Rodgers criticised Liverpool's defending after they slumped to a 3-1 loss at Southampton. "We were nowhere near what we've been in the last number of weeks," he said. "It's very difficult at this level whenever you make the start we made today of being two goals behind. We only started to play when it went to 2-0. The three goals conceded were disappointing goals today."
Mauricio Pochettino was understandably delighted after goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez lifted Southampton seven points from the relegation zone. "I'm very pleased," Pochettino said. "In the first half we played a very good game and we had many, many chances to actually go 4-0 or 5-0 ahead. We were fully focused on the game. My team believed and we had the correct mentality to compete well today. We prepared really well for this game and we fully deserved this victory."
Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal's attacking instincts after an unlikely source sent them on the way to victory over Swansea. "We know on the fixtures that this was one of the difficult games we had still to play," Wenger said. "But we really wanted the win today and we kept going. The fact that our left-back [Nacho Monreal] scored the goal inside the box shows that we had the spirit, the desire and are up for the fight. I'm very proud of the players because they have given a lot at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, come home, travelled straight away and won again away from home. It's never easy to do that."
Michael Laudrup felt Swansea matched Arsenal despite the 2-0 scoreline at the Liberty Stadium. Second-half goals from Monreal and Gervinho separated the two sides. "In the first half I think both teams played very well," Laudrup told Sky Sports. "They had a couple of very good shots from distance with Oxlade-Chamberlain, I think, having both of them. In the second half I think we could have done more but I think neither of the teams did very much to make the goalkeepers work - maybe because both teams play very well in the midfield. In the end they won because they scored the first goal."
Paul Lambert picked out Andreas Weimann and Brad Guzan for specific praise after Aston Villa's crucial 3-2 win over QPR, which came courtesy of goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor, Weimann and Christian Benteke. "I have to give my team a lot of credit. I thought 1-0 down was a bit harsh on us at times," he said. "Brad [Guzan] kept us in it with some terrific saves in the first half and we got the goal right at the death of the first half which was a big goal for us. We came back out really strongly in the second half and got a good goal. Andy [Weimann] scored a terrific goal and then we are pegged back again and then Christian scores what proves to be the winner. I think Andy showed [our belief] with the third goal. He never gave it up and his goal was brilliant, it was an absolutely fantastic finish."
Harry Redknapp claimed Villa got lucky after a first half that QPR dominated, only to reach the break on level terms. "We should have been three or four goals up at half-time, we were so much the better team it was almost embarrassing," Redknapp said. "But they scored right on half-time, we have only got to keep the ball we are down in their corner, we have got them under pressure and they hit us on the break. They came in at 1-1 and I am sure they couldn't believe their luck because they should have been out of the game and that is how it went today. They have rode their luck today and good luck to them, they have got away with it."
Tony Pulis claimed it would be a "great" season for Stoke if they achieved Premier League survival, following a drab 0-0 draw with West Brom that extended their poor run to one win in 11 games. "The basic line is we should never ever get complacent about being in the Premier League," he said. "We need another six points [to secure safety] and if we do that, it has been another great season for the club. There has been bits of moaning and groaning around the place, but the supporters were fantastic today. They really got behind us. They were fabulous."
West Brom boss Steve Clarke confessed the Baggies' clash with Stoke was an advertisement for people not to watch football. "It was a game of very few chances, a scrappy game," he said. "If the games were like that every week, we wouldn't have full houses. We tried to get the ball down and play, but Stoke made it difficult for us to make passes. It was a long afternoon watching a poor game."