Premier League

AVB bullish despite derby rout

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Sun, 18 Nov 2012 16:16:00

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett hailed goal machine Chris Wood after he grabbed a late winner against 10-man Leeds.

The 20-year-old headed home a pin-point cross from Shane Lowry to seal victory for the Lions, stretching their unbeaten run to 10 games.

Jackett said: "It was a real quality goal that decided it - a fantastic ball from Shane and Chris was in the right place at the right time.

"Any win in the Championship is hard-earned and this was no exception.

"Millwall v Leeds games are always very passionate. We're pleased to come out on top against a side as big as Leeds."

Wood, who extended his loan from West Brom until January immediately after the game, has now scored seven goals in 12 games for the Lions.

Jackett added: "We've been pleased with Chris, he's worked hard in the group and if as a centre-forward you can get in the habit of popping up with a winner, that's great. We've been very pleased."

The Potters are in London on Monday to take on a Hammers side who have accrued an impressive total of 18 points from their 11 Premier League matches so far this season following their promotion via the Championship play-offs last term.

It has been a considerable turnaround for West Ham since their relegation from the top flight in 2010-11 and quite the success story for Allardyce, whose appointment as boss at Upton Park in the summer of 2011 was not universally popular among the club's fans.

The 58-year-old has frequently been criticised during his managerial career for employing what are perceived to be unattractive, long-ball tactics despite his record indicating that the football his teams play is effective, and Pulis feels Allardyce deserves more credit.

Asked about Allardyce's critics, Pulis - who has faced accusations himself of using a negative playing style to get results - said: "Each to their own.

"I don't think he pays too much attention to what people do or do not think.

"He gets the job done and he has done a wonderful job at West Ham.

"It was very difficult for him. They played in the Championship, were the top team in the Championship and everyone would have wanted to knock them off their pedestal.

"It is difficult when it is like that, but he got them promoted in one season and they have had a great start this year."

Allardyce also got Bolton promoted from the second tier in 2001 and he subsequently guided the Trotters to consistent top-10 top-flight finishes, a League Cup final and into Europe, before departing in 2007.

After a brief spell with Newcastle, he then took charge at Blackburn, who he steered away from the relegation zone in his first season and then up to 10th in his second before being sacked by Rovers owners Venky's.

"He has been a very successful manager and maybe at times he doesn't get the praise he deserves," Pulis said.

"They must be absolutely doing somersaults at West Ham at the moment, and he deserves a hell of a lot of credit for that.

"I think the important thing as a football manager is that you play to your strengths and according to what you have got.

"You would have to ask Sam what he thinks of the criticism he gets, but the one thing I do know is that he gets results.

"Look at when he was at Bolton and look at Bolton now (they were relegated to the Championship last season).

"They were finishing in the top 10 in the Premier League year after year. The fella knows what he is doing."

Stoke - who have 12 points from their 11 fixtures so far - could be without Glenn Whelan for Monday's league clash.

Whelan limped off in the Republic of Ireland's friendly against Greece this week with a hamstring complaint and has undergone a scan to assess the extent of the problem.

Fellow midfielders Dean Whitehead (suspension) and Rory Delap (hernia) and defender Marc Wilson (broken leg) are definitely ruled out, and striker Michael Owen (hamstring) almost certainly is, but Pulis is optimistic forward Jon Walters and midfielder Charlie Adam will be available despite picking up knocks.

It had been an evenly-matched affair in front of a crowd of 18,032 at Pittodrie, until Lassad Nouioui stroked home after Victor Wanyama's powerful strike had crashed back off the post.

Charlie Mulgrew added a second goal four minutes later, acrobatically sending a ball from Georgios Samaras past his former Dons team-mate Jamie Langfield.

Celtic had gone three games without a win in the SPL, losing to Kilmarnock before draws against Dundee United and St Johnstone, so Ambrose was delighted to return to winning ways.

The Nigerian said: "To get back to winning is a great feeling. The past two or three games in the league have not been good for us. We've lost points and conceded goals, but this is football.

"We had to be patient and take our chances when they came. The manager asked us to be patient, because the goals would come, even if it took until the 95th minute."

Celtic now head to the Estadio da Luz to face Benfica in Champions League action.

Ambrose accepts his side face a tough challenge but is determined to follow up the historic win over Barcelona with another good result.

"We know the Benfica game is going to be another difficult game for us," he said. "We are going to work hard to maintain the same levels we have been used to in the Champions League.

"We are not going there to lose. They are a good team and they have great fans and a good atmosphere, but they know that Celtic are not just there to be run over.

"We have beaten Barcelona and Spartak Moscow, so it will be a different atmosphere.

"If they lose the game, they are out so we know they're going to give it their all, but we are going to make sure we do the same and not be overawed by the surroundings or the fans."

Aberdeen midfielder Isaac Osbourne, meanwhile, acknowledged it was a missed opportunity for the Dons, who remain in third place in the SPL but slipped four points behind Celtic, who took top spot with their win.

"The game was even all the way through," he said. "I'm not saying we played well because not enough of us showed up today.

"When you're drawing you say to yourself at least take a draw out of the game. I don't think it was good enough on our part. We were at home, the fans were really behind us and Celtic were there for the beating. We just didn't take advantage of it.

"I feel like it's a missed opportunity - not just for the team but myself as well - and hopefully we can redeem ourselves against Hibs next week.

"They are flying at the moment, but we owe ourselves and the fans a performance, so we're positive we can get a result."

The Dark Blues struggled to get up to speed after a seven-year absence from the top flight and soon found themselves eight points adrift at the foot of the SPL.

But the SPL new boys have since picked up and are now three games unbeaten and just one point behind second-bottom St Mirren following their convincing triumph over Pat Fenlon's second-placed Hibs side.

"There has always been good morale about the place," said Smith, whose side emerged victorious at Dens Park thanks to goals from Kyle Benedictus, Steven Milne and Kevin McBride's penalty.

"We all know we had a difficult start but the players have always stuck together and been positive about our situation.

"I think that has been proved with the way we've been playing recently so all credit to the lads for the turnaround.

"This was a really good result and performance to match when you think of how well Hibs have been doing in the league.

"We spoke all week about going out and trying to win the match and thankfully that's what we've done.

"We won't get carried away as it's still early days but we're all in this together and there's a good feel about the place."

Dundee can overtake St Mirren by beating them in Paisley next weekend, although Smith is refusing to look at other teams in the SPL.

He said: "We've always just tried to look after ourselves. That's the best way for us to be.

"We'll take one game at a time and see where it takes us because it's going to be a long season for everyone."

Goal hero Benedictus said: "It's a massive result for us.

"Scoring was nice but the main thing is the three points and trying to keep this run going."

Meanwhile, Hibs manager Pat Fenlon challenged his side to bounce back when they take on Aberdeen next following their surprise defeat on Tayside.

Fenlon said: "We've got to dust ourselves down and get on with it.

"We've got a big game next week against Aberdeen to look forward to.

"This was unlike us and it's difficult to put your finger on why this was the case.

"We didn't match Dundee for effort and commitment which was the thing that disappointed me most.

"But we'll try to put it down to an off-day and hope there's no repeat of it."

Tottenham's ambition of finishing above Arsenal was made to look like nothing but a pipe dream on Saturday after they were routed 5-2 by their bitter rivals at the Emirates Stadium.

Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring after 10 minutes but he then ruined his team's chances of securing an upset when he was sent off for a reckless sliding tackle on Santi Cazorla.

The dismissal triggered a meltdown that ended with Arsenal romping to victory thanks to goals from Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Cazorla and Theo Walcott.

Yet Villas-Boas exuded confidence after the match - even claiming the result flattered Arsenal - and is adamant that his team will not be crushed by the defeat.

"When you are poor, it can do damage, but when you play like this I don't think it can," the Tottenham manager said.

When asked whether he thought the result flattered Arsenal, Villas-Boas said: "A little bit, because we were playing three against three at the back.

"The result looks like Arsenal were a very attacking side but it's down to circumstances in the game.

"One team is losing, tries to invert the result, exposes themselves a bit more and is playing with 10 men, with three at the back.

"That obviously makes a difference but we took on the challenge, we risked it and that's why we are proud of each other.

"It's extremely difficult to play here. Had we suffered one more goal, it wouldn't change what we felt.

"We felt we had a go. We felt that things that could have fallen our way fell Arsenal's way.

"We compliment Arsenal for the result but we have a lot of belief in each other."

Villas-Boas said before the game that he hope Adebayor's determination to get one over his former employers would help propel his team to what would have been a morale-boosting win.

But the Tottenham boss also admitted the move could backfire and that was definitely the case on Saturday.

Early on, it was clear that the adrenaline was pumping through the Togo striker's veins.

His goading of the home support following his goal only served to anger the Arsenal fans, who booed him throughout the 17 minutes he was on the pitch.

Villas-Boas thinks Howard Webb was right to dismiss Adebayor, but he said the thought there was nothing malicious in the striker's studs-up challenge.

"He didn't go in to challenge for Cazorla. He went for the ball," Villas-Boas added.

"This can happen to any player. Situations in games are difficult.

"It was the right decision (from Webb). It was a 50-50 challenge. You want your players to play with ambition and go for balls and these challenges can happen."

Villas-Boas will face a huge test in the coming weeks, with Spurs travelling to Lazio on Thursday before league games against West Ham, Liverpool and Fulham.

Cazorla, Walcott and Jack Wilshere carved open Tottenham's back four with ease on Saturday and Villas-Boas admits his team must improve defensively.

"We are a good attacking side but we have been conceding a couple of goals," Villas-Boas said.

"We understand that we have to do better.

"But we suffered three in the first half, we suffered two in the second half, with one player less.

"There was attacking volume for both sides.

"Arsenal were efficient in their chances and we weren't as efficient in ours."

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