Second-half substitute Ross Barkley scores his fourth goal in the FA Cup, which proved to be the game-winner for Chelsea as they win 1-0 at Leicester City in the quarterfinals.
In the early part of the match Leicester City, who are currently one spot ahead of The Blues in the Premier League, were looking dominate, but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances.
It all started when Harvey Barnes crossed the ball to Jamie Vardy within the first three minutes of the match but was denied by goalie Willy Caballero. Youri Tielemans and Jonny Evans also wasted good chances to get a goal for The Foxes.
Chelsea, fresh off helping Liverpool secure their first-ever Premier League title, had a chance to score in the first-half courtesy of in-form Christian Pulisic. However, the young American was stopped by a miraculous save from Kasper Schmeichel.
After the goalless first-half, Tammy Abraham, Chelsea’s leading goal scorer in the Premier League, had believed that he put his team up in front but was denied by an offside call.
However, the South London-side finally found the net in the 63rd-minute, when Barkley knocked in the cross from Willian, which went past Schmeichel for what ultimately was the deciding goal.
The FA Cup final is to be renamed in support of Prince William’s ‘heads up’ campaign aimed at raising awareness for men’s mental health. The change in sponsor means Emirates will temporarily step down as the competition’s main sponsor for the first time since 2015.
What is ‘Heads Up’?
Mental health is a topic that has become something of a national importance, with deaths by suicide rising by 10.9% in the UK in 2018 (Samaritans). A shocking stat is that men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women in the UK. The Premier League started a ‘heads up’ campaign spearheaded by Prince William (HRH Duke of Cambridge) to raise awareness of men speaking out about mental health, taking place on the weekends 8th-9th and 15th-16th February.
The campaign also saw the clubs around the Premier League starting matches a minute late in order to show a promotional video for positive mental health. Many local charities got fans with mental health to speak out and reduce the stigma surrounding men and opening up about their emotions.
This move comes after a huge spike in the number of footballers looking for mental health therapy. With 355 professionals accessing therapy in early to late 2019. Olu Maintain, a former academy player, spoke out about his fight with mental health on a youtube series called “Man-up” from BBC Sport. We are seeing a trend of more players opening up about their issues.
Jesse Lingard spoke about the issues he had in an interview with the Daily Mail and the topic has become something of huge importance within the football community.
In an an article from BBC Sport, Prince William stated:
“It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic [Covid-19].
“I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health.
“Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around.”
When does the competition restart?
The quarter finals are set to take place on 27th-28th June, with the semi-finals potentially being played on the 18th-19th July. You can see the fixtures here.
Following the New Meadow 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury and Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp stated his first team players, nor himself, would appear in the replay back at Anfield.
Since Klopp’s arrival to the Premier League he has shown no happiness towards the busy December period and the replay format of the cup, it seems he believes the players are requested to play too often, hindering their physical capability and lack of recovery time. Despite this, his team way ahead at the top of the Premier League do not seem to be suffering on the whole. A factor which is potentially being interpreted as ignorance when their competition is from the lower leagues who play more games than those in the top division with remarkably less money and resources.
A recent discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live heard how Great Britain hockey star Samantha Quek argued the FA Cup replay’s should be scrapped and the format should be changed to two separate pots of Premier League and Championship teams and another of the lower divisions. A disgruntled Tranmere fan was on the phone to explain how much the FA cup meant to a lower league team, not just financially but sentimentally, and rightfully so.
The FA Cup ties and replays are renowned for bringing extra revenue to smaller clubs which can become a vital input for changes that Premier League clubs do not have to think twice about. Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts explained how the money from the return trip to Anfield would allow for improved drainage of the pitch and cameras for analysis to be used in games. Something Premier League regulars may take for granted.
The FA Cup allows for extra distribution of money which is circulated within English football, vitally this money can reach the lucky lower league teams who make it through the rounds. But it is also the importance of sentiment that the cup brings. For a supporter, the FA cup can be a magical occasion and allows for that chance to visit a Premier League ground to watch their team play against some the world’s greats. Similarly for a player, who may have finished a day working, to then take to the stage lined up against world famous players, a great euphoric feeling which can’t be replicated.
Yes, the Premier league may be tasking for players who play a higher standard week in week out, but they are professional. Their clubs, if anything out of respect, should participate thoroughly in an FA Cup game as if it was any other game.
An enthralling game is in store for those in North London tonight where Tottenham host Championship competition of Middlesbrough. The inform tier two side may be concentrating on reaching a vital 40 points in the league, but there is no doubt the northern side will put on a valiant effort to progress into the next round. With this weeks news of Harry Kane’s absence till April, Mourinho has interesting squad decisions to make, and the strength of tonight’s team will surely have in mind their distance from a European spot for next season. The FA Cup may the silverware they strive for in Mourinho’s inaugural season as Tottenham manager.
Another Premier League team with potential to fall with an upset are Newcastle United, who take on League one Rochdale at St James’s Park. The original fixture saw Rochdale bite back in the latter stages of the game with a goal made by two players aged two decades apart. Youngster Luke Matheson, who made his name when he equalised against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup earlier last year, grabbed the assist which booked Dale’s replay on Tyneside. An already classic FA Cup story, it seems written for Rochdale to go all the way, but will Premier League quality become too much and halt their FA Cup story?
Nigel Pearson has seemed to flip Watford’s Premier League fate on it’s head as after this weekend they sit above the relegation places for the first time season. However, his team were not as focussed as they conceded three second half goals to draw with Tranmere Rovers on the 4th January. A heroic display from the struggling League One display confirmed a replay which neither side would have desired at kick off, but one that could bring joy to the one set of fans, who have perhaps endured a poor season so far.
With current form, it would be suggested Watford would progress to the next round, but Pearson may rest his usual players for a tricky London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, as they continue to try secure Premier League status for next season. On the other hand, the Merseyside club will be hopeful for more FA Cup magic in the replay and may see a strong team out to finish a job they so excellently accounted for in the original fixture. Similarly to Watford in managerial terms, it will be argued the priority should be on Tranmere too escaping their relegation zone position.
Coventry City have been drawn at home to Birmingham City in the fourth round of the FA Cup, if they beat Bristol Rovers in a replay after they drew 2-2 at the weekend.
Despite being drawn at home, if the Sky Blues beat Bristol, they will have to travel to Birmingham’s home ground, St Andrews, to face the Blues.
If you are confused it will all make sense now…
Coventry City’s temporary home for this season is Birmingham’s, St Andrews Sky Blues actually have a better home record then the Blues this season, which adds to the joys of the FA Cup.
This is due to a row over rent with Ricoh Arena owners, Wasps RFC, the Sky Blues owners, Sisu decided to leave the Ricoh and managed to reach an agreement with Birmingham City to play their home matches at St Andrews, while the issue over rent and possibly a new home is still in negotiations.
It will be confusing surroundings, if Mark Robins’ men reach the fifth round, for both sets of fans as due to FA regulations Birmingham fans would have to sit in the away end and will only be allowed a certain amount of tickets, despite the stadium being their own ground.
The Sky Blues actually have a better home record then the Blues this season and if the two sides face each other, it will definitely be a game no one will want to miss.