Toure: We'll keep pushing United
Mon, 25 Feb 2013 16:23:00
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett believes his side could still get back in the frame for the Championship play-offs.
The Lions have slipped down the table since the turn of the year but picked up their first league win since January 1 when they defeated Middlesbrough 2-1 on Saturday evening.
A second victory over Boro this season lifted the Lions back up to 13th, eight points adrift of the top six.
"After the defeats we've had in the league it was a very good win for us and excellent to get a double over a team like Middlesbrough," said Jackett.
"There are a lot of games to come and anything is possible. The spirit we had was good and we will be looking to move on from the victory in a positive way now.
"We will need a real good run like we had earlier in the season to get up there, but we will see what happens."
Sunday's defeat to Manchester City has left Blues' interim boss Rafael Benitez facing a scrap to secure a top-four berth, with Tottenham and Arsenal both capable of nudging Chelsea out.
Yet their hopes of silverware rest on the FA Cup and Europa League.
Benitez has already spoken about the tough run of matches his side have been facing, which has already involved a bit of juggling as their FA Cup fourth round replay with Brentford needed to be played on fifth-round weekend.
As the FA have ordered all quarter-final matches to take place on the planned weekend, it means the Middlesbrough tie must be decided in time for the winners to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 10.
As Chelsea face a trip to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League on March 7, the only available date for any replay with Middlesbrough is next Monday, March 4, just two days after a Premier League encounter with West Brom at Stamford Bridge.
Clearly, such a congested schedule would have a negative on Chelsea's trophy hopes, and probably would not do much for their Premier League aspirations either.
Yet even if they manage to get past Middlesbrough this week without the need for a second game, there is still the possibility for a fixture pile up later on.
With no midweek dates available for teams involved in European competition prior to the FA Cup semi-final weekend of April 13 and 14, the FA are investigating the potential for playing a quarter-final replay involving Manchester United or Chelsea - should one be required - on a weekend, only three of which are available.
In all probability, March 16 or 17 would be ruled out because of policing and ticketing issues, whilst March 31 follows immediately after the international break.
That would leave April 6, which for Chelsea would mean the postponement of a home game with Sunderland.
Of more significance, it would mean the Manchester derby, currently pencilled in for Old Trafford on Monday, April 8 but set to be moved to April 6 if United make it past Real Madrid to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, being re-arranged.
Although somewhat complicated, such a scenario might actually appeal to Sir Alex Ferguson as, if United are still in the Champions League, they would go into the Manchester City encounter at a significant disadvantage given Roberto Mancini has a completely free week to prepare for a game that, in all probability, his side have to win if they are to retain their title.
The champions' hopes of retaining their Premier League crown look slim despite an impressive 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.
Toure opened the scoring with a neat finish just after the hour, following a rare missed penalty from Chelsea's Frank Lampard, and Carlos Tevez made sure of victory late on with a long-range strike.
It was a spirited response after a run of three league games without a win and Toure is determined to maintain that attitude.
The influential former Barcelona midfielder told City TV: "We are very pleased with the win because that is the most important thing for me.
"We have to keep on going and try and win all our games because we know United are in the top spot.
"We needed 12 wins and we have to keep on going because we don't know the future and you can't say it is finished.
"For the football club and the fans, you can't give up now.
"We have 11 games remaining and in sport you never know what can happen in the future.
"We know we have a big calendar, more difficult than them, but we have to keep on going and try and win matches and not let any points (slip) away."
As the more creative side in the clash at the Etihad Stadium, City deserved their victory but the game hinged on the penalty incident in the 51st minute.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart tangled with Demba Ba to concede the spot-kick but, with the striker moving away from goal, was spared any further punishment by referee Andre Marriner.
Hart made amends for the foul by denying his England colleague Lampard - who had scored his previous 10 penalties - what would have been his 200th Chelsea goal.
City took full advantage of that reprieve as Toure beat two men on a charge into the box and curled a low shot beyond Petr Cech. Substitute Tevez doubled the advantage five minutes from time with a shot from just outside the box.
Although the odds on winning the league remain lengthy, City have at least pulled seven points clear of third-placed Chelsea and have seemingly avoided being dragged into a battle for second.
Toure felt the result was one of the most important of City's season, even if he doubted it was their best display.
He said: "I don't think so but we needed to make a big performance because Chelsea is a big club, a big team with big players and we don't want to leave any more space (behind United).
"It is a very important result and you have to credit all the team, because they performed well.
"If you see the statistics of the game and if you see all the game, you see the defenders made a big, big game and Joe Hart makes a big, big save, and after that we have an option to win.
"I think it was the key moment of the game. If you look at the statistics, Lampard has never missed a penalty like that.
"Joe has made a fantastic save. It was a big performance from all the team and I am proud of that."
Hart was equally determined when asked about City's pursuit of United.
The 25-year-old said: "If United keep on winning there is nothing we can do, if they don't they need to know we are going to be there.
"We never give up, I think we have made that obvious.
"Even if there is one game to go, and it is still 12 points, we will do whatever we can to win the league - even if it is not possible."
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero took the opportunity to speak of his love for the club.
The 24-year-old has shown signs of rediscovering his form of last season lately after being hampered by injuries earlier in the campaign.
Aguero, signed from Atletico Madrid in a club record ?38million deal in 2011, said: "I'm very happy at City and I feel very appreciated here which means a lot to me.
"It's been barely more than a year and a half since I've arrived and sometimes I feel like I've been here all my life."