It was all about the cups this week. FA Cup on the weekend, Carabao Cup on the Tuesday and Wednesday. And there were some ‘Giantkillings’, but no monsters were knocked out.
In the FA Cup, Newport County thoroughly outplayed Champions Leeds United and got themselves a stoppage time winner only to receive a small team in the fourth round for their reward, being drawn at home to Spurs (Just a really bad joke, Spurs fans). I know, I know. Any mention of Leeds and you want to know exactly how many of the billion Leeds fans worldwide travelled to the game. I can in fact reveal that 1,104, to be exact, Leeds supporters travelled over to South Wales. The figure however does not include the copper filmed on social media leading the chants for the away support. I am always joking about the obsession by Leeds fans over their away support but coming from a Cardiff fan, they’re easily the best in the Championship.
But what of the large crop of Premier League teams who progressed? Or better yet, who had not progressed? Well, I’ll tell you. Well, I suppose we could now safely say that £75m for Virgil Van Dijk was an absolute bargain. He’s clearly worth triple that amount now. The Dutchman enjoyed a fairy tale debut in the Merseyside Derby last Friday night. He ticked all the boxes on the night. Did he make his debut? Duh. Beat Everton? Yep. Become the match winner? Aye. Knock their rivals out of the competition? If Carlsberg did debuts, that was it.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho hasn’t looked like his usual self since the start of the Christmas slump. He looks dejected and deep down he has probably accepted the title race is over, just like the rest of us. He still has enough energy to engage in wars of words with his managerial counterparts mind. Earlier this month if you remember, Jose accused Antonio Conte of ‘behaving like a clown on the touchline’. Conte did respond at the time, however it was not as good as describing Jose as ‘a small man’ in midweek. Honestly, it is a bit petty. It is definitely more exciting than watching United these past few weeks ever since they stopped winning 4-0 every game.
The first legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final chalked up three goals between them, in only the one game. Manchester City must have expected Bristol City to roll down and let them finish it off then. “No”, said Lee Johnson in his West Country accent. He told his players to press the home side up the pitch, and encourage the Championship team to all push up when they counter. Not rocket science, but I wish Premier League teams would try the same. A winner from Sergio Aguero snatched the 2-1 win right at the end. Tough luck. And Chelsea and Arsenal faced off once again, with high hopes for a repeat of their thrilling game a couple of weeks back. Quite the opposite it was, so i’ll leave it at that.
Hands up if you thought Mark Hughes was getting sacked after Stoke City were knocked out at Coventry? There was no way he was going to survive in his job after that. Not even Stoke’s board (who traditionally prefer to wait until the end of the season before switching their managers) was going to let this one go. Rumours are that ex-Waford boss Quique Sanches Flores will be the new Stoke City manager by the end of this weekend. Could be a great replacement for Sparky.
Cheers for reading. Have a good ‘un.