The Potters, who had not registered a Barclays Premier League victory since Boxing Day, were in control for virtually the entire contest and finally broke down their opponents’ stubborn resistance in the 67th minute when Huth nodded home a Glenn Whelan corner. Substitute Jerome then cracked the ball in with nine minutes of normal time remaining having taken the ball down neatly and turned his marker before Adrian Mariappa pulled one back with a header two minutes later for the Royals. Reading had a sniff with Mikele Leigertwood dragging an effort wide, but Stoke were soon back on the attack and Michael Kightly saw his shot blocked by Mariappa just before the half-hour mark after he had drifted past Ian Harte into the area. Adam Federici tipped over when Potters captain Ryan Shawcross tried to guide the ball in left-footed from a failed clearance, and Peter Crouch then looked to produce something similar to his spectacular goal last season against Manchester City – only to slice his attempted volley well off-target. Moments later the striker fashioned a much better acrobatic effort, chesting down Kightly’s cross, letting the ball bounce and then firing it goalwards with a scissors kick, bringing a good save out of Federici. Jon Walters won a corner with a deflected shot on the turn and it was delivered by Whelan to Huth, who crashed a header past Federici. Stoke looked to finish the job off but Matthew Etherington put his shot over the bar, and Adam Le Fondre – scorer of five goals in Reading’s recent unbeaten run – then began to cause problems. He had the ball in the net in the 74th minute, but referee Michael Oliver judged Pavel Pogrebnyak had handled before teeing Le Fondre up and the strike was disallowed. Jerome then capitalised on a Mariappa error, collecting the ball when the Reading defender misplaced a header from Shawcross’ long delivery, getting the better of Alex Pearce and smashing a strike into the net. The Royals hit back swiftly with Mariappa heading in Harte’s corner, but they could not salvage anything this time, with both sides having penalty appeals waved away in the closing stages. Robert Huth’s first goal of the season and a superb Cameron Jerome effort ensured Stoke returned to winning ways as Reading’s recent good run came to an end following a 2-1 result at the Britannia Stadium. Press Association
The Switzerland Under-21 international has made just three appearances this term, with the last coming against West Brom on September 15. Kasami has now joined Swiss Super League outfit Lucerne until the end of the season in a bid for regular football, the Cottagers confirmed on their website. The attacking midfielder was due to join Italian side Pescara on transfer deadline day last month, but the loan move to Serie A fell through due to a technical glitch. Press Association The 20-year-old was one of Martin Jol’s first acquisitions when he took to the Craven Cottage helm in the summer of 2011. However, Kasami has failed to make an impact on the Fulham first team since arriving from Palermo. Fulham midfielder Pajtim Kasami has joined Swiss club Lucerne on loan until the end of the season.
Moyes, who has been in charge for the past 11 years, is out of contract in the summer but does not intend to make a decision on a new deal until the end of the season. Chairman Bill Kenwright admitted this week that is not ideal for the club but he respects the Scot’s wishes and hopes a new contract can be signed after the last game. Moyes said: “As I have said, we will conclude that at the end of the season. What I am trying to do is make sure I give Everton the best chance of going forward. I wouldn’t want it any other way.” Press Association Everton boss David Moyes insists he will not destabilise the club despite wanting to make sure conditions are right before committing his future to Goodison Park. Kenwright added that he has already rebuffed enquiries about a potential vacancy, saying there is no other man he wants, but if Moyes was to leave he would do so “with his head held high”. Moyes wants to make sure he will have the wherewithal to revamp his squad to prevent stagnation but is pleased to hear Kenwright’s complimentary remarks. Moyes, speaking at a press conference to preview this weekend’s clash with Stoke, said: “I am delighted, from the chairman especially. Being at Everton is something I would be really happy with. But we have been talking for a long time now, three or four months and everyone nudges along a little bit further every time we speak. “I would never do anything, in any way, to jeopardise Everton or the football club. I want to make sure the supporters see a promising, fresh-looking team for the seasons to come. “We have to make sure the finances we have give us the opportunity to do that. “We have a small squad, and in truth we have an ageing squad as well, which we need to look at. I need to be capable of being able to make those changes for the best of Everton. “We are well aware of where we are at this moment in time. I have always said that where we finish, what we do at the end of the season – that will be a better time for us to make a decision than just now.”
Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and David Lynn are all battling to win the Wells Fargo Championship – as tournament officials battled the weather in North Carolina. Tee times in the final round were brought forward by several hours and the players sent out in threeballs from the first and 10th tees in an attempt to avoid the heavy rain which was forecast. American duo Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson began the day tied for the lead on eight under par, with Westwood and Lynn two behind and McIlroy another stroke back at Quail Hollow. Press Association McIlroy, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Saturday, got off to a poor start with a bogey on the first, but hit back with birdies from 12 feet on the third and fourth. Another birdie on the par-five seventh took the world number two to the turn in 34 and into a share of second place with Lynn and Westwood on seven under par. Lynn, second behind McIlroy in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last year, had also dropped a shot at the first but picked up shots on the seventh and eighth, while playing partner Westwood had birdied the first from 15ft. The former world number one dropped a shot on the third after missing the green with his approach and hitting a poor chip, but bounced back with a birdie on the fifth to trail Mickelson by one shot. Mickelson had matched Westwood’s bogey at the third but also matched his birdie at the fifth, while Watney had carded six pars and one bogey in his first seven holes. At seven under he shared second place with McIlroy, Lynn, Westwood and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.
Press Association Arsene Wenger is not content with merely scrapping for Champions League qualification and has demanded more from his team next season. The Frenchman added: “It (finishing fourth) is the minimum required. You could see that when Chelsea’s Champions League position was under threat, they came out quickly and said ‘no, what is most important for us is to be in the Champions League next year’. It is difficult to achieve, but we have done it over the years. Is it enough? No. We want more, but this year, Manchester United was above everybody else.” With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, Wenger will become the longest-serving manager in the country after taking charge at the Gunners in 1996, but has yet to commit his long-term future past the end of next season. The French coach, 63, has seen rival clubs deliver more silverware under a succession of different managers. He said: “You get sometimes that feeling, that because of the money thrown at the club, the impatience is there and the drive for success and demand for success is much higher. It is because these people want to be rewarded quickly and that could explain why the instability is higher.” Wenger admits he is unsure how Wigan’s battling FA Cup final win at Wembley will impact on their performance on Tuesday night in a match Roberto Martinez’s men must win to keep alive realistic hopes of staying up. However, the Arsenal manager wants his team fully focused on delivering the required result themselves. “What kind of team will we face? We don’t know,” he said. “We know just one thing – we want to be at our best in a game of that importance. We are on a remarkable run, we have been hugely consistent and we are in a position where our destiny depends on us and we want to finish the job.” Arsenal looked out of contention for the Champions League places when losing at Tottenham in March. However, Wenger’s side have put themselves back in the driving seat with six league wins in eight since, and could yet catch Chelsea in third place should results go their way. “Two months ago we had no chance to be where we are today so we can only be happy with what we have done,” he said. “We have a clear target – to win our remaining games.” The Gunners host FA Cup winners Wigan at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night looking to move back above Tottenham into fourth place as the race for elite European football is set to go to the wire. Wenger’s squad have long fallen short in the quest to launch a sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title. But the Arsenal boss insists that must change, saying: “Last year we made 70 points and finished third. This year, we can make 73 points and finish fourth, so what you want to do is have a consistency and fight for the Premier League.”
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was baffled by his team’s shock 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa. Pellegrini said: “I think the first goal was offside, the second goal was a free-kick and the third goal was unbelievable. “Maybe drawing 2-2, at that moment, made the players go forward and we left a gap. They had the ball with the goalkeeper and then a chance to score in our goal. “In five minutes we threw away all the work we did in the whole match. “For the moment we haven’t had a victory away. The other two games were very different, against Cardiff and Stoke. “I thought the team played the way we need to play and the way I want to play here. I can’t believe we didn’t win.” Pellegrini has no doubt City will recover to play a prominent role in the title race. He said: “We are not thinking about the title at the moment. We are thinking about winning the most amount of matches. “In the Premier League, the difference (between teams) is very small. “If we play the way we are playing I am absolutely sure we are going to be fighting for the league.” Even though his team were outplayed for most of the first half, Villa boss Paul Lambert had no doubt they could fight back. He said: “I know they had a lot of possession but Guzan didn’t really have a save, as such. “They are one of the favourites to win the Premier League, and one of the teams that could win the Champions League. “That shows the magnitude of this result. They might have rested a few for the Bayern game but, if you look at the side, they were a lot of top players. “It is a big win, three points for us. I am delighted to win.” Lambert, whose side survived a relegation scare last season, was unwilling to say whether it was his best result since taking charge at Villa last year. He said: “There have been (other) big games and big results, big moments at certain times. “But this is a fabulous achievement because of the magnitude of their club and the players they have got. “Where I will say it was very pleasing is that we had to come back twice. We have made a really good start in the league. “We have played Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, then Tottenham in the cup, and then Manchester City. “It has been one hell of a start but we have come through it and are playing with a lot of confidence.” Pellegrini was at a loss to explain how his team failed to hold on for three Barclays Premier League points after twice leading at Villa Park. City dominated the first half and deservedly led through Yaya Toure’s sixth goal of the season just before the interval. Even after Karim El Ahmadi equalised City seemed set for victory when Edin Dzeko headed in but Leandro Bacuna and Andreas Weimann struck in quick succession to turn the game around. Pellegrini said: “Of course it is disappointing because I think we played very well in this game. “From the beginning we had possession of the ball, we had the chances and we didn’t have any risk in our own goals. “It is unbelievable we didn’t win this match but football has these things. The team that deserves to win doesn’t always win.” It was yet another frustrating away day for title hopefuls City after losing at Cardiff last month and a goalless draw at Stoke a fortnight ago. It seemed City had found their feet after last week’s stunning derby destruction of Manchester United but they clearly still have vulnerabilities. El Ahmadi was fortunate not to be flagged offside before the opening goal but the foul outside the area for Bacuna’s free-kick strike was needlessly conceded. Weimann’s goal then came in frustrating circumstances as the Austrian ran unchecked onto a long kick from goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Press Association
Martin Jol has told Fulham fans to get off Bryan Ruiz’s back after seeing the playmaker jeered off against Manchester United. Press Association Life at the west London club is tense right now, with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to United their third loss in the space of a week. The poor run has seen a number of fans turn on manager Jol, as well as some of the Fulham players. Ruiz, signed to much fanfare from FC Twente in 2011, has struggled this term and his 74th-minute substitution was met by loud cheers, followed by boos. The Costa Rica international tweeted later that night: “I want to thank those who are supporting in this difficult time.” And Jol was angered by his treatment. “It was very disappointing,” Jol said. “That [kind of abuse] is something I can cope with because I know football. I have been involved in 1,300 games and I know if people are not happy, they will give you stick. “Bryan is a player that came back from Costa Rica’s game against Mexico, he scored, they won 2-1 and he goes to the World Cup. “Then to come here and get that sort of contradiction [in reception]: over there he is a hero and here they boo him off the park. “That is very, very frustrating for him and very disappointing for me. I wanted my supporters to stay behind my players. “He is an unbelievably nice person so I had to whisper a few words in his ear. “I said he is arguably my best player and that he should know that. “It doesn’t mean anything but at least a couple here, and I am one of them, trust him.” Ruiz’s lack of consistency and knack of losing possession has frustrated many, but Jol warned Fulham would miss him if he left. “Sometimes he is a my best player and sometimes gets caught on the ball,” he said. “There are a few other players in the past like him and I think one of my heroes is Glenn Hoddle. “People never gave him credit because sometimes he was a bit like Bryan. “They have to get used to him and if they don’t get used to him, we’ve got a problem because I need Bryan Ruiz. “Maybe they don’t need me. They need Bryan Ruiz, believe me.” There were a number of “Jol out” chants aimed at the Fulham manager at Craven Cottage, although owner Shahid Khan still appears supportive of the Dutchman. “He always says positive things to me,” Jol said. “There are a few youngsters coming through and we have other youngsters coming through, so that is positive. “I am always waiting for a few critical remarks and comments, but he is not doing that. “The other fellow who is working with me, my chief executive Alistair Mackintosh, is the best man.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he will not be rushed into signing a replacement for departed striker Nikica Jelavic and is prepared to wait right up until the January deadline. The Croatia international left for Hull this week and that leaves the Toffees light up front, with the burden being placed solely on on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku. Out-of-favour Stoke forward Kenwyne Jones has been linked with a move to Goodison Park but Martinez would not comment on speculation even though he initially admitted: “We know who we want.” “When I say ‘we know who we want’, I mean the profile of the player, what type of player we need, because we are very strong in many areas. “It is very clear the type of player we need. “The next few months is a demanding period with two competitions to face and we don’t want to go through games hoping for things to happen, and for that you need extra cover in certain positions.” The departure of Jelavic has been offset by the arrival of Aiden McGeady from Spartak Moscow and he will go straight into the squad despite lacking match-fitness after joining the club’s warm-weather break in Tenerife this week. “I am delighted with Aiden McGeady, someone who fits in our football club so well,” said Martinez. “I never expected him to be working with us in January if I’m honest. “For Aiden to be able to spend those 24 hours a day with Everton, getting to know the squad and how we work was very important. “He hasn’t trained in the last few weeks and hasn’t done any group work in the last six weeks so he needed the extra work. But it has been perfect. “It has been like a mini pre-season for him and now he is ready to go straight into the squad. “He is not a player you would expect to have 90 minutes but I do feel he is ready to be part of the squad.” He later clarified that by saying he was referring to the type of player but regardless it seems unlikely there will be any imminent arrival. “Obviously Niki has completed his move to Hull City and we wish him well,” Martinez said. “We are going to take our time but yes, my focus is to bring another attacking option that can help what we have got. “We know exactly who we want and we are going to work hard to try and get the type of personality we want into the group. “I am aware there is a list of at least 10 to 15 names but I will never speak about a player registered at another football club. “In January it is not easy. You need to get many things together and what seems impossible one day, there can be an opportunity the day after. “Normally it goes down to the final day of the window and I think it is going to be the case this time. “I am quite happy to wait for the right person. I don’t want to bring in a player just for the sake of it. Press Association
A short-term deal is currently on the table for Kebbie, who was linked with Manchester United last year, and the club are hopeful he will sign before the end of the week. Should he sign, Kebbie would work primarily with Stephen Clemence’s reserve team, with Ahmed Elmohamady and Liam Rosenior currently established as Steve Bruce’s preferred options on the right. Kebbie, 19, is Yorkshire-born and began his youth career at Leeds before moving to Spain at 16, where he trained with Barcelona before being signed by Atletico. But the right-back’s career at the Vicente Calderon never got off the ground and he has been training with the Tigers for the past month. Press Association Hull are in talks to sign former Atletico Madrid full-back Elliot Kebbie until the end of the season.
Former Cardiff boss Malky Mackay believes his old club now face an even tougher battle to beat relegation in the wake of their humiliation against Hull on Saturday. The defeat, though, was severely damaging for the club’s survival prospects as Mackay said: “It was a real disappointing result at the weekend, a bit of a shock.” Speaking on talkSPORT, Mackay added: “With Aston Villa last week, Hull at the weekend and the game at Swansea, you would be hoping for results to pick up points, rather than (in forthcoming games) away at Tottenham and Everton, two very strong teams. “So it is going to be hard (to stay up). It was always going to be tough, to be honest with you, but it has been made slightly tougher.” Mackay knows only too well how Solskjaer will be feeling at present, with the former Manchester United star trying to come to terms with the demands of his first job in English football’s top flight. Mackay, controversially sacked in December prior to Solskjaer’s arrival, added: “It’s how you respond, how you pick yourself back up, how you pick players back up. “It’s going back in on a Monday when you’ve had a dreadful weekend, feeling awful, with the game going through your mind every minute of the day. “You’re thinking about what you have to talk to the press about, what you say to your chairman when he phones you. “Really, it’s about getting the players ready again for a game in a few days’ time.” Press Association Cardiff suffered their biggest home defeat for 14 years in losing 4-0 to Hull, their third successive Barclays Premier League game without a goal, to leave them one place and one point off the foot of the table. On the back of the hammering, Bluebirds manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announced the cancellation of a warm-weather training trip to Abu Dhabi, although insisted it was not as punishment for the loss.