Tag Archives: FA Cup

FA Cup Replays – Who can cause an upset?

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.

Image result for harry kane
Kane out until April: Jose admits that without him, they cannot play the ‘Tottenham way’.

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?

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40 year-old Aaron Wilbraham scored the equaliser at The Spotland Stadium

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.

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Watford must be delighted with Pearson’s impact so far, but what will his attentions be for The FA Cup

Coventry City could face Birmingham City at home… in Birmingham

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.

Crystal Palace… Will They Make The FA Cup Semi Finals

So, this weekend sees the FA Cup, that great and grand old UK Football tradition resume with some interesting ties, that can be seen.

In terms of eveness, then Crystal Palace v Watford, or to be more precise, Watford v Crystal Palace, promises to be a good game, for the neutrals.

Both teams are very organised, with Watford under Javier Gracia, proving to be a surprise package this season in the league. Watford, it should be said, have opted for a more unusual approach to their management team, with each encumbent of the post having no more than a 1 year rolling contract.

Each manager has been successful in his own right, with Javier Gracia, being the latest and perhaps the most surprise package of all the holders of the post, because he has the team playing in an exciting way, which gets results.

Crystal Palace, equally under the wise old stager Roy Hodgson, are holding their own in the league and are very organised and tactically, difficult to break dow, playing their best football when Wilfred Zaha is in the side

Watford for their part, have their own talisman in the outspoken Troy Deeney, who is no shrinking violet when it comes to speaking his mind

So the game promises to be good with a chance for both sides to get closer to Wembley, a venue which Watford last visited in 1984, when they lost to Everton, While Crystal Palace, were there as recently as 2015/16 when they lost to Man Utd 2~1.

Palace will bv boosted by the return of Wayne Hennessy and Papa Soare for a match Roy Hodgson describes as difficult.

Watford, for their part appear to have no new injury worries and it could prove to be an emotional match for Huerelho Gomes if he plays, because , he has announced his intention to retire at the seasons end, when he will after all be 38 years old, so he if he plays and the result is an adverse one then thats Gomes last chance to win the competition gone.

Overall it promises to be a good game with Wembley beckoning, its a close one to call.

Can the Imps march all the way to the title under the impressive Cowley brothers?

Sitting three points clear at the summit of League Two, Lincoln look good value to go up this year and play at English footballs third tier for the first time this century. With brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley at the helm, the Imps have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success over recent years, and as a result the brothers are one of the hottest managerial duos in the country.

Style of play                                                                                                                                            Lincoln play a fast high tempo style of football, with emphasise on fitness, effort and running. They are also not afraid to mix it up and go long to big strikers John Akinde and Matt Rhead to win flick-ons and work off second balls. The wingers are imperative members of the side, and Bruno Andrade, Shane McCartan and Harry Anderson have all thrived after being given the freedom to express themselves down the flanks. The Cowley’s have flicked between a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 with each system allowing the team to attack in numbers but also are never left over exposed at the back.

Key players:                                                                                                                                Striker John Akinde is an experienced goalscorer at this level and has notched over 20 league goals in two of the last three seasons. The big striker has 13 goals so far this season and is a huge part of the way the Imps play. Being a sharp finisher and a big physical presence, Akinde is the perfect League Two striker.

22 year old winger Harry Anderson is enjoying the best campaign of his career so far, missing only three league games this season. With seven goals and six assists the pacy winger has bossed the league this season, and received attention from teams higher up the pyramid with Norwich reportedly tracking his progress.

Signing experienced defender Jason Shackell in the summer was a big coup for Lincoln, and the defender has shown his class since dropping down to the fourth tier for the first time in his career. The centre half has been a revelation in Lincolnshire at both ends of the pitch, being a huge part of the third best defence in the league as well as chipping in with five goals at the other end.

Performance this season:                                                                                                                  Lincoln have had an exceptional season so far, only losing four league games up to the start of March and are only nine points off of their final points total from last season, despite having played 12 less games. Picking up huge wins over title challengers Bury (2-1) and MK Dons (2-1) as well as impressive results over Port Vale (4-0) Exeter (3-0) and Swindon (4-1). In many respects Lincoln have sacrificed the cup competitions to focus all their attention on the league campaign. Crashing out of the EFL Trophy in the group stages and the EFL Cup in the second round, however they did reach the third round of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 2-1 to Everton.

Form last 5: DDDWD                                                                                                                          Lincoln have drew four of their last five games picking up seven points in the process. 1-1 draws with rock bottom Notts County and lower mid table side Northampton were followed by a 2-2 draw with play off chasing Stevenage . They then beat Morecambe away and drew with Exeter to end the month of February undefeated but haing given up considerable ground to second place Bury.

Run in:                                                                                                                                                    The Imps have a fairly tough run in facing Mk Dons, Carlisle, Tranmere and Colchester all of which are currently in or around the play offs, mixed in with potentially winnable games against the likes of Cheltenham and Newport. Fans will be hoping Lincoln will be in a strong position come April and will not be desperately looking to pick up points at the back end of the season to secure promotion.

Prediction:                                                                                                                                              Under the Cowley brothers Lincoln are a dangerous team with a winning mentality. Despite them enduring somewhat of a poor run of form as of late, Lincoln should be aiming for at the very least automatic promotion, and will have one eye on claiming the league title.



Many of you keep asking this question to yourselves. Why a rising star like Hudson-Odoi is not playing with consistence at Chelsea?

The 18-year-old winger, who burst into Chelsea first team last season under Antonio Conte has found limited space so far making most of his appereances from the bench. It is surely surprising to see how the youth-team graduate has yet to start a game in the Premier League this season. Only 74 minutes played in England top division, while most of his starts have came in the Europa League group stage. This is a question Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has overheard since the early days of his tenure at Stamford Bridge. Following Bayern Munich’s interest in the youngster the Italian manager had to come up with an answer in order to keep him in London. Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson’s displays in the Bundesliga have not helped either with many of England’s youngsters who want to follow them and seal a move to Germany. Hudson-Odoi tried to do the same handing in a transfer request which the club refused to accept, for how much longer that remains to be seen. Summer is coming closer with mounting speculation over the Germans’ interest in the talented winger. Should Sarri still be in charge when the transfer market reopens that would be a problem he will have to face and that could undermine his future at the club.

Sarri’s unwillingness to play him did not come as a surprise for the ones who know a bit about the Italian’s style of play and methods. In his 3-year spell with Serie A side Napoli he has been accused by press and fans to play always the same XI and to give very little space to the rest of the team with a few players reportedly unhappy about this. An example of this is Simone Verdi (now at Napoli but previously at Bologna) who refused to join them in January 2018 when last season Serie A runners up were looking for a winger to boost their chances of snapping up the title. He refused to join them saying he did want to stay at Bologna to help them avoid relegation. While part of this is true there’s also something else that needs to be said. The main reason why he did not join Napoli last winter despite they were fighting for the title is to be found in Sarri himself and his stubbornness. He knew he wasn’t going to find much space and preferred to wait a bit more in order to carry on developing before joining a much bigger club.

As seen in the first few months of his tenure at Stamford Bridge Sarri heavily relies on a core group of 13-14 players. He can count on wingers like Hazard, Pedro and Willian with Hudson-Odoi currently 4th choice in the pecking order. Now they have signed Higuain Hazard is back playing on the left wing and that has further limited the 18-year-old’s playing time. However whenever he played he showed what he is capable of scoring twice in the Europa League group stage while bagging one and setting up two more in just two FA Cup outings. Despite an encouraging start to the season the pressure is mounting on the Italian. His “Sarri-ball” style has failed to live up with the huge expectations coming from his successfull spell with Napoli. The signing of Jorginho should have turned the whole Chelsea side around being the main reason not to play Kante in a midfield deep-lying position. While Kante’s issue is a matter of discussion with the manager’s view supported by the Frenchman’s greater involvement in the attacking play most of the fans made it clear they want Hudson-Odoi to become a regular for Chelsea. Sarri warned that if the youngster is to play week in week out they need to sell another winger. This sums up his philosophy and the way he thinks about football. As long as Sarri will be in charge at Chelsea it is going to be difficult to see Hudson-Odoi start with consistence. Sarri’s assistant manager Gianfranco Zola pointed out that the youth-graduate featured 14 times for the Blues, not bad for an 18-year-old in a demanding club like Chelsea. Only Ryan Sessegnon at Fulham and Morgan Gibbs-White at Wolves have done better as players born in 2000. If you factor in that Sessegnon and Gibbs-White play with much smaller sides that Chelsea then Hudson-Odoi’s playing time does not look as bad as most of the press have been saying.

Whether Sarri will stay for next season remains to be seen, same for Hudson-Odoi. The Italian and the whole club will need to address this preferably before the summer with Bayern Munich pushing to secure his services. Furthermore FIFA has just handed a two-windows transfer ban to the West London club who will unable to bring in new players up until the end of January 2020 (if their appeal will be rejected). Pulisic will join them in the summer and that could be another problem. Chelsea will try everything to keep him at the club, it is not going to be easy though with many European giants chasing the England international.