Stoke boss Mark Hughes hoping to follow Southampton’s lead

first_img “Southampton have done really well in recent years finishing top-10, top-eight, top-seven, and we haven’t quite been able to catch them,” said the City boss. “But maybe this is the season we’ll be able to do that.” Stoke are rapidly becoming the top-flight’s latest away-day specialists with three wins, three draws and just one defeat on the road. They comfortably sat on Bojan’s third goal of the season, a neat near-post flick from Erik Pieters’ cross, and could have scored more but for some wayward finishing from Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic. “We are doing okay on the road and we need to keep it going,” added Hughes. “We have got a defensive platform which is helping us to get good results on the road. ” Swiss winger Shaqiri impressed again until he had to be withdrawn in the second half with a slight hamstring problem, but Hughes said the move was precautionary. “He had a little tightness and that was the reasoning behind taking him off when we did,” the Welshman said. “He wanted to go out and play the second half but it was important that we protected him a little bit, which is what we did. Bojan Krkic’s 10th-minute strike secured City’s first win at St Mary’s, and their first on the south coast in 35 years. Southampton have led the charge of the teams chasing the traditional top-six clubs in recent seasons, but Hughes feels this could be the year Stoke overtake them. “I was really pleased with what he offered us once more. You can see each game he plays that he is adapting and showing the undoubted qualities he possesses.” Southampton striker Graziano Pelle endured a frustrating afternoon, culminating in him picking up his fifth booking of the season for kicking the ball away. The Italian will now miss next week’s trip to Manchester City, and manager Ronald Koeman said: ” It’s all about the frustration of the player. “He was not playing well, he was not scoring and the team was not winning, but you have to control yourself always. “We have to accept it and we will play another number nine next week.” Mark Hughes hopes Saturday’s win at Southampton provides another step in Stoke’s progression up the Barclays Premier League table. Press Associationlast_img read more

Chelsea-Fulham game to go ahead

first_imgThe Boxing Day derby between Chelsea and Fulham will go ahead as as planned despite a proposed strike on the London Underground.Arsenal are considering moving their match against Wolves to the following day, and Chelsea announced that they too were assessing the situation.As well as a possible tube strike, limited Christmas-period rail services will mean fans could struggle to get to Stamford Bridge for the game, which kicks off at 1pm.AdChoices广告But after consulting London Transport and the Metropolitan Police, Chelsea decided against postponing the match.Follow West London Sport on Twitterlast_img


first_imgDefeat to Derry, now on to Down BY CATHAL MAC SUIBHNEDonegal rounded off the 2012 McKenna Cup campaign tonight with a date with Derry, a repeat of last year’s Ulster Final. It was a decent Donegal display, coming out on the wrong side of the result by two points.Jim McGuinness again gave youth its chance with survivors from Sunday’s line up including Martin O’Reilly, Daniel McLaughlin and Michael Mullin. Dermot Brick Molloy was the star of the show early on, scoring five points (three from play) in the first half while it was only an early Derry penalty that kept them within touching distance. Derry played with quite an experienced side and John Brennan has certainly added some defensive steel to his side despite his apparent abhorrence to the notion last season.Rory Kavanagh made his first appearance of the year, lining out at midfield; the Eunans man was hampered for long periods of last year’s Championship with an ankle problem so he’ll be a huge plus for the manager if he can regain full fitness.Derry fought back well early in the second half while the home side went a long time without a score, almost twenty minutes, similar to what happened in the second period at Breffni Park. Donegal eventually awoke from their slumber but couldnt catch the Oakleaf county who go on to a semi final this weekend. Meanwhile Donegal can take stock of the opening stages of what is hoped will be another long inter-county season.Overall the competition served its purpose – players got back a bit of match sharpness, a welcome break I’m sure from the hectic training schedule they’re going through at present, and there were also some newcomers introduced to keep existing panellists on their toes. SAME SYSTEMAfter a successful 2011 though, Donegal are not looking to reinvent the wheel in 2012. The system will remain much the same; tweaks have to be made up front and also in how the half backs and midfield support the full forward line. Other teams will have a better idea as to how to play us, so there’ll be a step up to be taken overall – if you’re not moving forward you’re standing still after all.Similarly the personnel will not change greatly, if Jim unearths a player or two who can perform in the Championship cauldron then great. If not, it will be those players who didn’t quite make the starting team last season, those from 16 to 22 on the panel, who will push us on that bit more. We’ve already seen Brick and Neil Gallagher do this in the opening fixtures, its up to other players like Eamonn McGee, Martin McElhinney and Marty Boyle to show the manager they’re worth a starting berth.With the way our league fixtures are mapped out, a win in our opener against Down could set us up for a great Division 1 campaign. Last year showed the importance of getting points on the board early – we looked dead and buried against Sligo in our first game, but somehow salvaged a draw from eight points, and a man, down. Then came the terrific performance against Tyrone in Healy Park and after that we were looking good for a promotion push.It’ll be no different this year, we’ll have a fair idea after our first two games whether its a relegation battle or a chance at a semi final spot. Tyrone managed to mount a promotion bid last year despite enduring a poor start but Division One won’t be as forgiving should Donegal start off poorly. Laois, a team we’ve played on numerous occasions in the league in recent years, visit O’Donnell Park in Round Two. We’d be expecting to win that game and if that was bringing us to three or four points with three home fixtures remaining we could be anticipating another promising league run. It’s a bit early though for those kinds of permutations and predictions – Jim will be looking at getting somewhere close to his championship 15 over the course of the league and what will be of most interest will be the make up of the forward line.Michael Murphy’s groin operation rules him out until March at the earliest and a niggling back injury will also rule out his partner in crime Colm McFadden for a similar length of time. That means likely starting spots for Dermot Molloy, Patrick McBrearty and Stephen Griffin – certainly two of those three should start in Newry. Griffin, being the only natural right footer of the trio, has a good chance of starting after an his excellent display against Cavan; indeed he would have started tonight but was withdrawn from the line up before throw-in.The other main selection difference from last year’s Championship team will be the gap left by Kevin Cassidy. Leo McLoone started as last year’s centre back with Karl Lacey at wing back and there’s a fair chance that that will be the configuration again come the Summer.So it’s all ahead of us now – at least seven league fixtures and hopefully a lot more than the bare minimum two Championship clashes. A journey like last year is what we’re all hoping for and we’re dreaming of it being one game longer. Newry in February…..Croke Park in September…..we’re on the road again.CATHAL MAC SUIBHNE’S DONEGAL GAA BLOG – DEFEAT TO DERRY, NOW TO DOWN was last modified: January 19th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:CATHAL MAC SUIBHNE’S DONEGAL GAA BLOG – DEFEAT TO DERRYNOW TO DOWNlast_img read more