A second home defeat in five days has left West Ham's manager, Gianfranco Zola, on the brink of resigning. The 1-0 loss at home to Stoke City was the team's sixth in a row and came after the co-owner David Sullivan had published strong criticism of them on the club's website and in the match programme. Now they are above the relegation places only on goal difference.
Zola said he would "consider his future overnight" and had to decide if he was the man to keep West Ham up. "If I am not, I will resign," he said. Asked if he felt, in his heart of hearts, that he would be in charge at Everton next weekend, he paused, then said: "I think so. We'll see what happens, let me think overnight. I need to see what the problem is, if the problem is me."
At the other end of the table, Arsène Wenger launched another angry tirade against the illegal challenges he believes are designed to intimidate Arsenal, alleging that Birmingham City's Craig Gardner tackled Cesc Fabregas's "knee" before a dramatic finale produced a 1-1 draw at St Andrew's. A month after the lunge by Stoke's Ryan Shawcross which shattered Aaron Ramsey's leg, and a little more than two years after Birmingham's Martin Taylor left Eduardo Da Silva with a shattered leg and ankle, Wenger described Gardner's challenge on his captain as "a bad tackle... at the knee", before adding: "One more."
When asked if he meant one more in yesterday's game, or another to add to the Ramsey and Eduardo incidents, Wenger lost patience with the questioner. "Leave me alone, for fuck's sake," he said. "You do not need me to tell you what happened on the pitch. I can give you my opinions on the football, but don't try to drag me into your controversies." Wenger described Kevin Phillips's late goal as a "big blow" to Arsenal's title hopes. As they lost ground, Chelsea put no fewer than seven past Aston Villa, Frank Lampard scoring four, while Dimitar Berbatov managed two as Manchester United won 4-0 at Bolton to stay top.Reuse content