Cards on the table. I am as bad at football predictions as Paul Merson. We know this, this isn’t new news. When Everton led against Leicester I saw my FA Cup winning ticket potentially falling short at the 3rd Round stage – just like every season. Yeah, I am saying it loud and proud. Claudio is going to win the cup. Revenge tasted very sweet to Musa has he defied his critics and chewed up the Toffees. Aren’t Everton supposed to be decent and challenging for the top six? I am sure someone said that somewhere. Leicester have had a lot of experience of being behind this season, and this time they turned it round. Leicester for the cup I tell you.
Or Arsenal. It could be Arsenal. I mean, something has to go right for Arsene soon if only to shut up the likes of Piers Morgan. The sight of Olivier Giroud leading the troops out to battle at Preston didn’t calm the nerves of many an Arsenal fan but the point that Giroud is actually a very good player shone through yet again. He gets a lot of grief, but he is carrying Arsenal on his beautifully chiseled shoulders currently. And, you are only allowed to win the FA Cup if you have nearly been knocked out by a lower level side.
Rooney had been one goal shy of Sir Bob’s record for quite a while. Not because he has been unable to find the net, more because he has been unable to get on the pitch long enough during United’s resurgent run. Still, José trusted Wayne against a Reading side that were, to put it nicely, somewhat open at the back and the England skipper wasted little time in kneeing home the goal that, as a good friend of mine beautifully put it, it meant we can stop seeing obligatory shots of Bobby Charlton in the stands every time Rooney goes close. Mind you, he has only drawn level so we might have to go through the rigmarole at least one more time. United won easily, scoring four in a game yet again this season.
Pep admitted to the media over the weekend that he has made mistakes since coming to England. I’d agree, that flat cap the other week was a shocker. City made no mistakes in dispatching West Ham on Friday night. 5-0 flattered Bilic’s side who will no doubt console themselves by trying to buy another well known name for a fraction of their true value. Fans, even West Ham ones, are not stupid enough to fall for that lame attempt at PR Lady Brady. They are not Apprentice contestants.
Surely by now someone has made a banner saying “Hughes Out?” No? Let me get my sewing machine out. I am no Stoke fan, but he is ruining that club. They used to have an identity, something about going there on a windy Tuesday night was supposed to turn even the likes of a primetime Roy Keane weak at the knees. Now they roll over at home to Wolves and have their tummy tickled. Stoke could have had a run in the FA Cup and it’s not as if they have any interest in qualifying for the Europa League via the Premier League. For a man who won the cup many times, it was a poor show from Hughes and Stoke.
Mind you, WBA were also a surprise. I know of at least one person that tipped them as the dark horses to lift the trophy at Wembley and they contrived to lose to a team managed by Steve Mc. That is never a good sign. Though it was refreshing to see, once again, the complete lack of impartiality from Paul Ince on live TV when he heard his son’s free kick had gone in. Incey has had more to smile about from his kid’s lower level career than from his own managerial one, that’s for sure.
Could we all be wrong about Marco Silva? “Who?” some of you might still be asking. The new man at Hull, the one who was nailed on to fail before he even turned up. Well, they beat Swansea on his debut. Mind you, imagine his relief when he saw he was playing Swansea in his first game, a team that would really rather not leave Wales if possible.
Big Sam is still looking at the bottom of a pint of wine for his first win as Palace manager. In fact, might there be another vacancy at a different Palace before Sam gets a victory? He went to Bolton, his old haunt, and gave his old crowd a reminder of how dire the football was under him at times in a 0-0 draw.
A week is a long time in football, as Eddie Howe will now testify. With 20 minutes to go against Arsenal he was riding on the crest of a wave and was about to be the new Arsenal, England and PSG manager combined before the season was out. Days later, having thrown away a 3-0 lead to the Arsenal, he was getting dumped out of the FA Cup 3-0 by Millwall. Ouch.
Norwich have been terrible recently. Yes, a little Championship knowledge on show for you there. Mind you, Southampton have been a little ropey themselves so a 2-2 draw was probably about right all in all.
Social media went into a brief little meltdown as Liverpool’s youth team failed to beat an experienced, in form League Two side in Plymouth. Kloppo will not have wanted an evening trip to the south coast, but his youngsters have rarely failed him so you can understand the gamble. The same people were criticising Plymouth for turning up playing for a point and celebrating getting it. Hang on, isn’t that what United did?
Conte also rolled the dice, giving Michy Batshuyai a very rare start. He repaid his manager with a goal. Conte also gave John Terry a rare start. He repaid his manager with a red card. Is that it for JT? Probably. Still, with Costa, Hazard and Moses on the bench Chelsea eased past Peterborough 4-1.
Spurs defender Ben Davies managed to do what Vincent Janssen looked very unlikely to achieve all day, and that was head the ball past the Villa goalkeeper. It was just like last season for Villa, as they failed to win away from home against Premier League opposition.
Can you imagine how bad the nil-nil between Sunderland and Burnley must have been?