Gael Clichy says Manchester City is missing 'spirit'; Sir Alex Ferguson knew Robin van Persie would be a success; Marouane Fellaini apologises for his butt of Ryan Shawcross.
Premier League notebook: Gael Clichy extols teammates to fight
Gael Clichy has told teammates to forget last season's championship and roll up their sleeves for a fight. The France international told City TV: "The only thing we have been missing this year is probably a bit of spirit. From last season, people expect more from us - our fans, ourselves. Last season was a great season, but we have to put this behind us and start to work … We know the quality is there. We can score against any team, any time, but we just need this extra fighting spirit and on Saturday, we had it." City defeated Newcastle United 3-1 on Saturday.
Sir Alex Ferguson is not surprised by the production of Robin van Persie, who has 15 goals in 21 matches since joining from Arsenal, including the first in a 3-1 victory over Sunderland. "He has a fantastic record," Ferguson said. "What you are seeing is a player who has come to his mature years. Experience is counting for him now. He has the knowledge and ability, and last season his form was terrific." Van Persie has scored 60 goals in his past 72 Premier League matches.
Brendan Rodgers admits his squad have some way to go to be a genuine top-four side and hopes the forthcoming transfer window can assist the process, following a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa. "That was probably as disappointing as we've been here but I couldn't put my finger on it," he said. "It is a strange thing, football. We were talked up all week about us being top-four material but we know within the group we still have a long way to go. There is going to be steady progress and there are going to be steps forward, like in the last few weeks, and a step backward, like yesterday."
Demba Ba admits Newcastle need to find the right balance between defence and attack to turn their season around. The Senegal international's 11th goal of the season sparked a spirited fightback against champions Manchester City but ultimately counted for nothing as Roberto Mancini's men claimed a 3-1 victory on Saturday. He said: "You always have to keep in mind as a team that if you lose the ball, this is a team [City] that can counter very fast, and you have to find the right balance, and we didn't."
Marouane Fellaini has apologised to Ryan Shawcross, his teammates and Everton fans after he appeared to butt the Stoke City defender. Although Fellaini said he had "no excuses", the Belgium international did make reference in his apology to "a lot of pushing and pulling going on inside the Stoke penalty area" prior to the incident, adding that he did not feel he was getting any protection from the officials. His teammate, Sylvain Distin, said that playing against Stoke is like "wrestling". He added: "It was tough. It was difficult to run through; they just catch you all the time, and grab you."
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