Mark Hughes admitted last night that his Manchester City team had "no excuses" after they crashed to a woeful 3-0 defeat to Tottenham that leaves them six points adrift of the Champions League places and heaps pressure on their manager once again.
Hughes struggled to defend his players, especially the dismal Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor, who barely put up a fight in what could prove a crucial game in the battle for the fourth Champions League place. With Arsenal only drawing 1-1 at Burnley, it was Tottenham in fifth place who seized the chance to make up ground on the established elite of English football.
Harry Redknapp's team were impressive, none more so than Niko Kranjcar, who scored twice, and the winger Aaron Lennon. Jermain Defoe scored Tottenham's second goal and Spurs are now within two points of fourth place. The home fans sang, "You're getting sacked in the morning," as Hughes faced up to a run of 10 league games with only one victory for his City team.
Hughes, who will now be without the injured Joleon Lescott for up to eight weeks, said: "We are disappointed. We didn't really have any kind of level. I thought we started brightly enough and in the first 30 minutes we took the game to them, possession-wise. But in terms of producing a real threat we weren't creating a great deal."
Hughes said that he had been unaware that Robinho had walked straight down the tunnel after he was substituted. "We didn't keep the pressure off our back four and they could not cope with the threat of [Peter] Crouch and Defoe," he said. "We didn't produce what we are capable of. There are no excuses. You can say we missed some personnel and we lacked width but there are no excuses."
Cesc Fabregas scored for Arsenal last night before going off injured with a hamstring problem that will keep him out of Saturday's game against Hull. A penalty from Graham Alexander meant that Arsène Wenger's side failed to take all three points. Frank Lampard scored a penalty to give Chelsea a 2-1 win over Portsmouth to go three points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
Wenger was damning of the Premier League for putting Wolverhampton Wanderers in a position where they played a B team against Manchester United on Tuesday night. The Arsenal manager blamed the chaos of the fixture schedule.
Wenger said: "It's sad but what can I do about that? I'm responsible for Arsenal. We'll compete with Manchester United over 37 games instead of 38. I believe it's a problem for the international credibility of the Premier League for sure, but it's not my problem.
"The Premier League has a basic problem in organising the fixtures in a normal way. The guy who organised the fixtures must have come out of a special school and he's more intelligent than I am. They organised midweek games in a week where there's Europa League and that means that some teams will not play in midweek.
"Next week is a free week and there's no European football. There are some teams that don't play at all and we play Sunday, Wednesday away and at home on Saturday against Hull, who haven't played all week. It's also damaging for Burnley. You know from the start that some teams won't be capable of playing on the day that you've organised the fixtures. For me it's difficult to understand but maybe they have a different logic."