Paper News and Gossip: Manchester City Lose Ground, Gareth Bale Wonder Goal
The fallout from two crucial Premier League matches dominates the back pages on Thursday.
Manchester City saw their title challenge flounder on the back of the 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium, while Everton's hopes of a top-four finish were dented by a home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Elsewhere, Gareth Bale has earned the plaudits for his goal to win the Copa del Rey for Real Madrid against Barcelona.
But who else is making the headlines on Thursday? Read on to find out more.
Manchester City Lose Title Ground After 2-2 Draw with Sunderland
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini admits his team were suffering from the defeat at Liverpool as they lost further ground in the Premier League title race in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland, reports David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror.
City followed up the 3-2 loss at Anfield with a point against the relegation-threatened Black Cats at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
Pellegrini is quoted as saying:
We couldn't take out of our minds the game against Liverpool and that was the consequence of why the team didn't play well.
I was sure that after three days it’s very difficult for the players to take out of their mind the game against Liverpool. We needed more intensity but our mind maybe was not in the moment to do it.
I think the players were more mentally tired than physically tired. Mentally it was very difficult to play this game after Liverpool.
We have five more games to play. We must try to win the games and see at the end of the season which team has more points.
Gareth Bale Celebrates 'Perfect Night' with Copa Del Rey Winner for Real Madrid
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale hailed his "perfect night" after his wonder goal helped to win the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, reports the Daily Mail.
With Cristiano Ronaldo absent through injury, the stage was set for the Wales international, and he did not disappoint with a stunning strike to defeat Barcelona.
Bale is quoted as saying:
It was a perfect night.
It is great to win trophies and I am very happy to have won my first title with Real Madrid.
This victory was for the fans for all the support they have given us, the atmosphere was fantastic.
I had to run, Bartra pushed me and tried to block me but he couldn't.
I had to get around him. It was great to score the goal but better to win the match and the Cup.
Champions League Chase Is Far from Over, Insists Everton Boss Martinez
Everton manager Roberto Martinez maintains the chase for fourth place in the Premier League is far from over despite the home defeat to Crystal Palace, reports David Anderson of the Daily Mirror.
The Blues lost 3-2 at Goodison Park to put Champions League qualification back into the hands of Arsenal.
But Martinez is quoted as saying:
I don’t think that Arsenal will take full points from now until the end of the season.
When you are one point behind them with goal difference in our favour, then we very much realise what we can do.
If you look at the table, you could think that it is out of our hands, but I feel it is in our hands because it is down to how many points we can get from now until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Palace boss Tony Pulis says Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him to take the Selhurst Park job earlier this season, reports Anderson.
The former Stoke manager has overseen a major reversal in form for the Eagles, and the win at Everton effectively sealed their place in the top flight.
Pulis is quoted as saying:
Did I have doubts about taking the job? It was difficult. I met Steve Parish and spoke to Steve about four or five times and I didn’t feel it was right.
I looked at it and everyone I spoke to said it was a difficult one.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Peter Coates, my old chairman at Stoke, they were the only two who said to take it. They were two very good judges!
I hadn’t seen Palace play, but I enjoy a challenge. It’s in my nature to stand up and try to march people forward and we've done that.
Manager Brendan Rodgers Will Not Sacrifice Liverpool 'Class' in Title Race
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has vowed to continue a philosophy of fair play as his team chases the Premier League title, reports David Maddock of the Daily Mirror.
The Reds top the table in both the title race and the Fair Play league so far this season, and the Anfield boss will not allow the club's "class" to be compromised.
Rodgers is quoted as saying:
We will try to do it in the right way. I take great pride in winning in the most sporting way we can.
If you look at us we are top of the Premier League and we are top of the Fair Play League. We don’t surround referees. We want to win, but it shows you a mark of our behaviour.
They are the values of this club. It’s a club that has won many trophies in the past but had the humility and the class.
One word I always had in my mind when I joined Liverpool is ‘class.’ So that is important to me; that those values are restored.
The fitness of Daniel Sturridge is a concern ahead of the weekend trip to Norwich City, with mixed messages being reported in the newspapers.
Marco Reus 'Wants Manchester United Move' Claims Former Team-Mate Mario Gotze
Borussia Dortmund midfielder wants a move to Manchester United according to former team-mate Mario Gotze, reports David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror.
According to the article, United manager David Moyes has been tracking Reus throughout the season.
Bayern Munich star Gotze is quoted as saying: "When I was at Borussia, Marco wanted a move to Manchester United. This hasn't changed."
But Moyes has been dealt a transfer blow after Toni Kroos' agent claimed the midfielder will not leave Bayern until 2015 at least, reports Martin Blackburn of The Sun (subscription required).
Meanwhile, John Edwards of the Daily Mail claims Moyes has been in Portugal watching three transfer targets, with Eliaquim Mangala, Jackson Martinez and Guilherme Siqueira on his radar.
Arsenal Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny Resigned to Missing FA Cup Final
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes he will have to miss the FA Cup final after the heroics of team-mate Lukasz Fabianski in the semi-final win over Wigan Athletic, reports Mark Irwin of The Sun (subscription required).
Fabianski has played throughout the FA Cup run, and he saved two penalties in the shoot-out to help the Gunners defeat the holders on Saturday.
But Szczesny is happy for his Poland team-mate and will abide by Arsene Wenger's selection for the final against Hull City next month.
Szczesny is quoted as saying:
The decision’s up to the manager but I think Lukasz has done really well and deserves a lot of credit.
Obviously, I would love to play at Wembley but Lukasz was our shootout hero in the semi-final against Wigan so I was happy for him.
I am an Arsenal fan and I just want us to win the FA Cup. It’s not about me playing. It’s just important to get a trophy and hopefully appease everyone at the club.
Meanwhile, Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph reports that Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny is being monitored by Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Bayern Munich.
Bits and Pieces: Erik Lamela, Chris Hughton, Pepe Reina, Luke Shaw
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Tim Sherwood is facing pressure from inside the club to field Erik Lamela, reports Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph.
The forward's season has been hampered by injuries but he is set to resume training next week, and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy wants Lamela to play to boost his confidence and go on to fulfil his potential at White Hart Lane, claims the article.
Chris Hughton could be handed a swift return to Premier League management with West Brom after his sacking by Norwich City, reports James Nursey of the Daily Mirror.
Atletico Madrid have targeted Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who is on loan at Napoli, as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois, reports Paul Brown of the Daily Star.
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has warned Chelsea and Manchester United that the club does not need to sell defender Luke Shaw, reports Colin Harvey of the Daily Star.