Category Archives: FA Cup

Resolute Plymouth holds Liverpool to goalless draw

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A resolute Plymouth Argyle managed to hold Liverpool to a goalless draw in their FA Cup third-round tie at Anfield.

The hosts fielded the youngest starting XI in the club’s history.

With a forward line comprising of Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo bringing the average age to 21 years and 296 days, but even as they claimed 80.3% possession of the ball in the first half they still struggled to break down the Pilgrims.

Sheyi Ojo failed to take Liverpool’s best chance when he missed a header from close range, while Divock Origi also had a goal disallowed for a foul on Gary Miller.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp then brought on first-team regulars Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino in a vain search for a breakthrough.

Sturridge sent a 25-yard shot just wide, looped a header over and fired into the side-netting – but the Reds find themselves unable to break down an organised and disciplined Plymouth.

Manchester United had been the only team to keep a clean sheet at Anfield this season before Plymouth’s visit – and now a team with designs on the Premier League title and the EFL Cup final must travel to the south coast for a replay on 17 or 18 January.

Meanwhile, Chelsea captain John Terry was sent off on his first start since October as the Premier League leaders easily overcame League One team Peterborough in the FA Cup by 4-1.

The Blues already had 20 shots by half time, with Pedro’s curled finish and a drilled Michy Batshuayi effort giving them a two-goal cushion, before Willian drove in from 18 yards after the break.

Terry saw red for bringing Lee Angol down as the last man and Tom Nicholls prodded in from six yards for a buoyed Posh, only for Pedro to restore a three-goal advantage from the edge of the box.

Pep Guardiola anticipates “special” first FA Cup game

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Pep Guardiola expects a “special” first FA Cup game in charge of Manchester City in their third-round match against West Ham United.

City will meet the Hammers at the London Stadium at 19:55 GMT tonight, with Guardiola naming a first-string team for the FA Cup tie. The match is the first of 32 third-round ties across four days this weekend.

“I will try to win the game,” he said. “It will be a tough match away from home against a Premier League side, so I will not be rotating.”

“I like the English cup competition. In Spain it is a little bit predictable but the FA Cup is more like the cup competition they have in Germany. It is a proper knockout, with small teams able to beat big teams.”

“I’m looking forward to it, but of course it’s a Premier League game so it will be tough. We were unlucky in the draw.”

Guardiola’s West Ham counterpart Slaven Bilic said the tie is a “big game” for both sides and the fans, but is convinced that City are “not that confident any more” and that high pressing could be the key to deterring the Manchester club.

“They will put out a very strong team because it is a big chance for them to get a trophy,” Billic said.

“Some teams tried to press them even in the early period of the season because we knew from Germany and from Spain how they would play. But they were coming out of that pressing more than now.”

“After you have three or four wins on the trot then the opponent may be pressing you but you are not scared. OK, you can occasionally lose the ball but you don’t care; at the end of the day, it’s the plan. But after you make some mistakes and it ends in defeat then you think twice about it. You try it again but you are not that confident any more. It’s like a chain.”

Prediction:

West Ham United 1 – 2 Manchester City

FA Cup scraps quarter-final replays

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FA Cup scraps quarter-final replays

Manchester United won the FA Cup last Saturday after defeating Crystal Palace by 2-1.

The Football Association (FA) had decided to scrap FA Cup replays for the quarter-finals starting next season as plans of the competition were approved.

The governing body said that the decision was part of its “ongoing review” of the competition.

Under the new rules, the remaining eight clubs will battle it out over one weekend. Each tie will be played to a finish on the day; should normal time ends with a draw, extra-time and subsequently, penalties will be used to decide a winner.

Replays in earlier rounds remained; meaning lower-league clubs will still have the opportunity to make amends to first game failures by winning second matches against higher-ranked clubs.

Manchester United beat West Ham in a replay in this season’s quarter-finals – with Marouane Fellaini scoring the game winner – before going on to lift the trophy in the final at Wembley.

Semi-final replays were scrapped too albeit two decades earlier. Manchester United was also responsible then, as their 1999 victory over Arsenal sped on their way to winning their historic treble.

The new plan comes as part of the FA’s commitment to ease the congested fixture schedule that Premier League teams are constantly burdened by and help the development of the England national team.

The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said: “The Emirates FA Cup remains at the heart of English football and this change adds to the excitement of the competition and will benefit the wider game in general.”

“In a demanding calendar and with increased pressures on fans it is important we move with the times and consider new innovations such as last week’s successful Non-league finals day which saw 50,000 fans at Wembley for the Vase and Trophy.”

“While fully respecting tradition and history, this new development will help the Cup retain its status as a much-loved and world-renowned competition.”

United triumphant with FA cup victory as Van Gaal exit looms

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United triumphant with FA cup victory as Van Gaal exit looms

Manchester United can end their drought of major titles since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after the Red Devils came from behind to beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final with just 10 men.

Louis van Gaal’s men showed sporting courage especially after Jason Puncheon’s far-post finish that allowed Palace to move ahead with just 12 minutes left.

Palace manager Alan Pardew displayed some eccentric dance moves as his team scored the first goal, but will regret not continue urging his players to close up their defense and strive for their second.

The inevitable retaliation for Pardew’s arrogance came in just 4 minutes, as United and England Captain Wayne Rooney led a charge that ended with Juan Mata’s close ranged finish. Rooney proved his critics wrong once more as he maintained influence in this vital game and added a missing medal to his trophy collection.

Things took a turn for the worse for United as defender Chris Smalling got sent off in extra time after gathering two yellow cards. However, Jesse Lingard helped his team end their season on a better note by hammering in the winning goal, a first-time strike from Damien Delaney’s half clearance.

Jose Mourinho (left) is expected to take control of Manchester United while Louis van Gaal (right) is set to depart this week.

Jose Mourinho (left) is expected to take control of Manchester United while Louis van Gaal (right) is set to depart this week.

But the victory almost seem to dull in comparison to the news that Jose Mourinho is set to take charge of Manchester United with the departure of current manager Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal appeared defiant during the press conference after the FA Cup victory, brandishing the team’s trophy.

“I show you the Cup, I don’t discuss my future with the media,” he said defiantly. “Some of you have had me sacked already.”

However, as he bid goodbye to staff members before he left London, van Gaal told them he did not know if he would see them again, although the 64-year-old said later he still “hoped” to be in charge for the final year of his three-year contract.

He said “it’s over” when a reporter approached him– but he is said to have been referring to his side’s season rather than his own job.

Despite Mourinho being out of work since being sacked from Chelsea last Decembe, when the executive vice chairman Ed Woodward finally made a move for him this month, the Portuguese had been drawing up a list of potential acquisitions in the expectation of being offered the job.

He has identified Andre Gomes, Joao Mario, John Stones, Alvaro Morata, Mauro Icardi and Ezequiel Garay as summer targets for Manchester United as part of an anticipated minimum £150m spend.

But he will have his work cut out for him after van Gaal’s awkward style of management has caused widespread disquiet among his players. Even Michael Carrick and keeper David De Gea, both players fielded frequently by the Dutchman had been loudly considering a departure if the manager will stay in charge next season.

It is a significant steal should De Gea stay, given that the keeper has been targeted keenly by the best clubs and almost left for Real Madrid last August.