Premier League

Moyes worried by Baines knock

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Thu, 29 Nov 2012 08:53:00

Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway has criticised Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for his public interest in Wilfried Zaha.

Wenger admitted he was eyeing a move for the winger in the knowledge that Theo Walcott could walk away from the Gunners on a free transfer in the summer.

But Holloway, who only took over at Selhurst Park earlier this month, is anxious not to lose the 20-year-old England international in the transfer window and questioned Wenger's comments.

"Why is he talking about my players? It's not the game," said Holloway, quoted in The Sun.

"I will be picking up the phone to talk to him as I don't think it is right and proper with the greatest respect. That is totally bad etiquette.

"Wilf is a big part of our season and we have such a strong contract others can go and whistle.

"He won't be available, no matter what the price is in January."

Crystal Palace are currently second in the Championship table, just one point behind leaders Cardiff.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew felt his side deserved much better after watching the Magpies slip to a fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League defeat at Stoke last night.

The 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium was the Magpies' fourth in a row, the first time the club have endured such a miserable run since 2008 when they were relegated.

It looked like Newcastle would record a first away victory of the season when Papiss Cisse put them in front two minutes into the second half, and they were still ahead when the game entered the final 10 minutes.

But in the 81st minute Cameron Jerome crossed for Jonathan Walters to head in, and four minutes later two substitutes combined as Kenwyne Jones set up Jerome for the winner.

Pardew said after the 2-1 loss: "Sometimes you have a game plan and your players see it through to the letter and it's pretty galling to look them in the eye and say they've come away with nothing, which I had to do.

"A couple of mistakes cost us the game, and we didn't make many mistakes. It's a tough result for us to take."

Pardew also felt his side should have had a second-half penalty for handball, but he hopes the improved showing bodes well for future games.

"That's the sort of break you need when you're on a run like ours and we didn't get it," he said of the penalty shout.

"But I look at my team and it was such an improved performance. There was real commitment, a good balance to the team, and, if you're going to get a victory, that's the sort of performance that's going to lead you to one."

Stoke had huffed and puffed without really looking like getting back into the game until manager Tony Pulis introduced Jerome and Michael Kightly midway through the second half, but he insisted the credit should not be directed his way.

The Potters boss said: "I've always got this thing in the back of my mind that when people say, 'Oh, he's made changes, he's been brilliant'.

"Why didn't I start with Michael Kightly, why didn't I start with Cameron? That's how brilliant I am.

"The lads have been fantastic, they've not played much this year but the spirit has been very good and their commitment to the group has been fantastic."

The Blues made it three games without finding the net and two straight goalless draws for the first time since Roman Abramovich bought the club in Wednesday night's west London derby.

That saw them slip seven points adrift of top spot in the Premier League, with Benitez so far only able to stop the rot that had set in at the back.

But despite seeing Chelsea manage a handful of shots on target across his two games in charge, the Spaniard insisted there were still goals in the side.

And he hopes matches away from home, where the Blues can play on the break, will help them regain their confidence.

"If you have more space, with the quality we have, we might have different chances," said Benitez, whose side play five of their next six matches away from Stamford Bridge, including two at the Club World Cup.

Benitez admitted Chelsea need wins, starting at West Ham on Saturday, where they will once again be without John Terry and Frank Lampard, and probably Daniel Sturridge.

That almost certainly means another outing for Fernando Torres, who showed no sign of breaking his own latest goalscoring drought last night.

Chelsea fans, who kept faith with the ?50million man for so long, have now started to turn.

Benitez can only dream of such patience.

After being subjected to a cacophony of jeers and abuse during his first game in charge on Sunday, he was spared a repeat until the closing moments of last night's game.

Perhaps more telling were the chants of, "We want our Chelsea back", in front of the watching Abramovich, the closest supporters have ever come to publicly criticising the club's billionaire benefactor.

Baines has been the Toffees' stand-out player in the last two seasons and provides a real attacking thrust down the flank.

However, Moyes now faces the prospect of heading to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City at the weekend without his most consistent player.

"Leighton's got a hamstring injury. He felt it in the game and played on in the last 10 or 15 minutes," said the Scot.

"I felt we put in a lot of energy (in the game) but it might take its toll.

"We've got Gibbo (Darron Gibson) and Hibbo (Tony Hibbert) back and that has eased it a little bit but I am worried about Nikica Jelavic (ill) who has not trained since Saturday and on Tuesday I was not playing him."

Theo Walcott put Arsenal ahead after just 52 seconds but Marouane Fellaini's seventh Premier League goal of the season drew them level on the half-hour before former Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta appeared to bring down Steven Pienaar, only for referee Mike Jones to award a corner.

"It was a penalty," Moyes said. "We played Arsenal today, who are a really good team, but we also had very few decisions go for us.

"Sometimes referee's decisions change the games: in some games something might go in your favour but we were never going to get that tonight.

"We got nothing whatsoever and anything we were going to get we had to earn on our own because we were not going to get a jot.

"There was an incident when the ball got chipped into the box later on and he gave a push on Fellaini.

"I've had a chance to see it and it was never anything like it. I found that one as mystifying as any really.

"We found it a difficult night from that point if view but the players played really well throughout."

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