Premier League – Managers: Rafa refuses blame

A look at the reaction to Saturday’s Premier League action, with Rafael Benitez insisting his pre-match press conference outburst was not to blame for Liverpool’s goalless draw at Stoke.

FOOTBALL 2008-09 Premier League Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez - 0

Stoke City 0-0 Liverpool

Tony Pulis: “I’m very, very pleased with the players. The effort and commitment was first class, and we created quite a few good chances as well. Liverpool are a great side, they’ve got some great players and it’s a great football club. They’re in the best position they possibly could be. I’m sure Rafa will be pleased to push on from here.”

Rafael Benitez: “When you are top you want to win, it doesn’t matter which game it is. Today we needed to win, with or without the press conference. After 22 years with Ferguson in charge it could have been any moment (to bring it up) so why not the other day? I think it was the right moment to say, ‘That’s it, now we will talk about everything’. I was thinking about defending my team. I thought ‘enough is enough’ and that’s it.”

Arsenal 1-0 Bolton Wanderers

Arsene Wenger: “We are already swimming enough against the stream not to drop points against Bolton. We were solid defensively and now we have won 1-0 three times, which is a good basis. We must just take it game by game because every match is difficult.”

Gary Megson: “We played against one of the best teams in the world today, who have quality everywhere, but we wanted to press the ball, keep everything in front of us and not leave space behind – and we did okay in the main.”

Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Martin O’Neill: “Gabriel Agbonlahor played when really a lot of lesser people wouldn’t have bothered turning up. He has been ill all week, he’s only done 10 minutes training and yet he’s declared himself fit. He did brilliantly and he deserves that goal.”

Tony Mowbray: “We have always been vulnerable to set-plays and Scott Carson is disappointed with the second goal. In football you need to get people to do their jobs at both ends. At one end you need people to score goals and to get rid of it at the other.”

Everton 2-0 Hull City

David Moyes: “It is another win, another clean sheet and although Hull made it a scrap, we deserved the win. Referees we have had recently have been very good, but I don’t think this one was. And we have had an offside goal, that was clear. I will be straight with things that affect both sides, and our first goal was offside. I have to be fair.”

Phil Brown: “I have heard Tony Pulis talking recently about the little clubs not getting the decisions. But our whole season has been unhinged by a succession of officials and decisions we are not happy with. The first goal, with Everton not conceding in the previous five, was always going to be crucial at Goodison Park. But the first was wrong, even though Mikel Arteta‘s free-kick was a touch of brilliance from a brilliant player.”

Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland

Gareth Southgate: “As for (Stewart) Downing – his performance was a real highlight. He’s accepted our stance and totally understands it. He’s up for the challenge of staying here beyond this month and helping us remain in this division – that’s the end of it, the whole saga is done and dusted.”

Ricky Sbragia: “I’m definitely happy with a point, especially after being 1-0 down. We got caught out on the stroke of half-time so at the break we asked them to up the tempo and the longer the game went on the better we looked. We could even have won it, but we’re happy.”

Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham

Newcastle assistant Chris Hughton: “Andy (Carroll) has made a very telling contribution in the two games he’s played and I was very pleased he got the goal. You always want to claim three points at home but in the period when we were 2-1 down they were always a threat up front. And at that point you’d probably have settled for a draw.”

Gianfranco Zola: “It was an excellent game. If we had come out with three points nobody could have said a word about it because the performance we put on this afternoon was excellent. To be fair we played against a team that did not want to lose and they got a late goal. Bellamy and Cole are on fire and that is making the difference.”

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