March 18, 2009
An non-call on offsides, a post-game spitting incident and a genuinely tense match characterized Arsenal‘s come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Hull City in the last quarterfinal of the FA Cup. Nicky Barmby gave Hull an early lead on a deflected shot, a lead that would last until the final fifteen minutes of the game. Robin van Persie drew the Gunners even in the 74th minute and William Gallas headed in from a very clearly offside position for the go-ahead goal in the 84th. Adding insult to injury, there are allegations that Cesc Fábregas, not playing due to injury, spit at a Hull assistant manager in the tunnel after the game.
While the wild match certainly carries headlines, it is relatively fair revenge for an Arsenal side who lost to Hull earlier this season at the Emirates. Arsenal were also able to rest at least some of their regulars, though the likes of Arshavin and van Persie did grace the pitch. Now the Gunners move on to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and will face Chelsea at Wembley. The winner of that match will face the winner of the Manchester United-Everton tie.
March 17, 2009
Arsenal and Hull City will play today to finally round out the semifinals of the FA Cup tournament. The big question though will be whether or not Arsenal play their regular players against a clearly inferior Hull side. After their dramatic 120-minute match with Roma in the Champions League last week and a rout against Blackburn on the weekend, the Gunners will be facing their third game in a week’s time. So will Arsene Wenger care enough about the FA Cup to jeopardize the club’s chances in the Champions League or in trying to keep in the final Champions League qualifying spot domestically?
The other interesting side note about this match is the fact that Hull defeated Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, where today’s match will be held, back in September. While Hull are no longer sailing among the Premiership’s elite clubs as they did for several months last fall, that match will surely be in the minds of both clubs. For Arsenal it will surely be a motivation, regardless of which players are sent out onto the pitch, but for Hull it will no doubt be a reminder that when all is going well they can play with anyone in England.
March 8, 2009
After giving up a header to David Wheater just before halftime, Everton earned a spot in the FA Cup semifinals behind two headers within six minutes in the early second half. Afro-sporting Marouane Fellaini (pictured) and Louis Saha notched goals via their heads in the 50th and 56th minutes to give Everton a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Goodison Park. It will be Everton’s first trip to Wembley and the semifinals of the FA Cup since 1995.
I have to say that my FA Cup thoughts for this weekend were basically right on. I got all the games right and my scores weren’t off by too much. I nailed the Everton score exactly, though I did give Coventry and Burnley more credit than they probably deserved. Perhaps I didn’t account for the huge momentum swings in favor of Chelsea and Arsenal in the past few weeks.
With their victory, Everton will face Manchester United at Wembley in one semifinal. The winner of the Arsenal-Hull City quarterfinal will face Chelsea in the other semifinal. Both take place at Wembley and will be in about six weeks’ time, April 18 and 19.
March 8, 2009
Finally playing their Round 5 match in the FA Cup, Arsenal blew out Burnley at the Emirates Stadium, 3-0. Young Carlos Vela scored in the 25th minute, effectively the game-winning goal. Eduardo and Emmanuel Eboué each scored in the second half to pad the lead and prevent any miraculous comeback by the Championship side. While Burnley have had nice runs in both domestic tournaments this year, the Clarets were no match for an Arsenal side that is finally coming together and playing well. The Gunners advance to face Hull City in the fourth quarterfinal of the FA Cup, a match they should surely win.
It remains to be seen, however, if Arsène Wenger will play his full strength against Hull, as he did not today. Arsenal need every point they can muster in the Premier League and are still alive in the Champions League after their defeat of Roma two weeks ago. While the FA Cup is certainly an important competition, staying afloat domestically and perhaps advancing through the Champions League will likely be priorities.
March 7, 2009
There was no trouble for either of the favored clubs in today’s FA Cup quarterfinals. At Craven Cottage, Manchester United destroyed home-standing Fulham, 4-0. Carlos Tévez scored twice in the first half to put the game out of reach. Wayne Rooney and Ji-Sung Park added insult to injury for the Premier League-leading side with second half goals. United have to be the favorites going forward in this competition after this away rout.
Chelsea jumped out to an early advantage over Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena when Didier Drogba fired in another goal in the 15th minute. The Blues controlled the match and doubled their lead when Alex scored in the 72nd minute, providing the final margin. The Sky Blues simply could not compete, even at home, against the rejuvenated Chelsea side.
March 6, 2009
This weekend the FA Cup returns in earnest for its quarterfinal round, sort of. Arsenal and Burnley still have to play their Round 5 match which means the winner will eventually play in the fourth quarterfinal at some future date. (As an aside, can you imagine this scenario in America?)
So here are the matches and a few thoughts:
Chelsea @ Coventry City – Chelsea
Manchester United @ Fulham – United
Burnley @ Arsenal – Arsenal
Middlesbrough @ Everton – Everton
I would love to see Coventry take out Chelsea tomorrow morning but I just don’t think it’s going to happen. As clubs start to realize that the Carling Cup is already over and the chances of catching Man United in the Premiership have all but faded away, they’re bound to start focusing on the FA Cup as their last real hope of winning a major trophy this season. This is certainly the case with Chelsea, though they might still have a shot in the Champions League. Coventry have been a fine story so far, easily dispatching of Kidderminster Harriers and Torquay United before knocking out Blackburn Rovers in Round 5. But Chelsea are a different beast, even with the match at the Ricoh Arena.
Chelsea 2 – Coventry 1
It’s very difficult to imagine that Manchester United will not win their match with Fulham. Though United did finally concede a goal at Newcastle mid-week, they still have not lost in ages against domestic competition. Fulham are a solid side and hosting the game at Craven Cottage will be a huge advantage, but United are playing in a different stratosphere from other English clubs. Now with the Cup Winners Cup and the Carling Cup already in the bag, is there any reason for United not to try to destroy the record books by taking home the FA Cup along with their likely title in the Premier League? And that is to say nothing of the Champions League.
United 2 – Fulham 0
Burnley have been a true delight in their runs both in the Carling Cup and now the FA Cup. In the Carling Cup they took out Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal in succession before falling to Spurs in the semifinals. The FA Cup has been less spectacular but they did see off QPR and West Brom before lining up this rematch with Arsenal. The Gunners will be keen to enact some revenge on the Clarets for the humiliating loss in the Carling Cup. It will be helpful that Arsenal have found a nice run of form of late and the match will be held at the Emirates Stadium (though Burnley did win at Stamford Bridge). Either way, this is still a Round 5 match and the winner will face Hull City in the quarterfinals, after the Tigers defeated Sheffield United.
Arsenal 3 – Burnley 2
Finally, another all-Premier League match up between Middlesbrough and Everton. Boro were just annihilated by Tottenham mid-week and have to be feeling in a rut. They are in freefall toward the relegation zone and facing Everton will be no easy task. Still, the Toffees will be happy to have the match at home, one can never guarantee a victory at the Riverside. Everton are the classier side though and should not struggle to reach the semifinals.
Everton 2 – Middlesbrough 1
February 24, 2009
Fulham needed two goals in the final thirteen minutes to escape their 5th round replay with Swansea at Craven Cottage. Clint Dempsey (77th) and Bobby Zamora (81st) (both pictured) did the trick for the Cottagers, earning them a home game with Manchester United in the quarterfinal round. Jason Scotland, the first match’s hero for the Welsh side, opened the scoring in the 47th minute. But the Championship side’s dreams were dashed when Zamora headed in the winner just nine minutes from time.
The other 5th round replay today saw Coventry City advance to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at the Ricoh Arena. Leon Best’s 59th minute goal was all Coventry needed to earn a home showing against Chelsea in the next round.
Additional 5th round replays will take place tomorrow and Thursday between West Ham and Middlesbrough on the one hand and Hull City and Sheffield United on the other.
February 16, 2009
For some odd reason Arsenal and Cardiff City had not yet played their FA Cup 4th Round replay until today. That was completely missed in my weekend coverage of Round 5. At the Emirates Stadium today, the Gunners quickly did away with Cardiff in a 4-0 romp highlighted by the return of Eduardo. He made nice work of his long-awaited return from the catastrophic leg injury he suffered in a match with Birmingham City last season, scoring twice including once from the spot. Nicklas Bendtner and Robin Van Persie also added goals for Arsenal.
So Arsenal will play Burnley in a Round 5 match-up to who will play the winner of the Hull City-Sheffield United replay in the quarterfinals.
February 15, 2009
Manchester United continued their quest for an unprecedented four trophies with a rout of Derby County at Pride Park in today’s FA Cup 5th round tie, 4-1. United advance to the quarterfinals while leading the Premiership, holding a spot in the March 1 Carling Cup final and are set to begin the defense of their Champions League title next week. Nani and Darron Gibson scored first half goals and Cristiano Ronaldo and Danny Welbeck scored for United in the second in the victory over Derby. Miles Addison did score for the Rams in the 58th minute but it was of course not near enough to derail the hottest club in England.
The quarterfinal draw has also been completed with the following match-ups for the round of eight:
Chelsea @ Blackburn or Coventry City
Man United @ Swansea City or Fulham
Sheffield United or Hull City @ Arsenal/Cardiff or Burnley
West Ham United or Middlesbrough @ Everton
So, Chelsea and Man United will have to win away in order to reach the semifinals while Everton get another home date. The matches will be March 7 and 8 and of course I’ll have recaps of all of them.
February 15, 2009
17-year old Jack Rodwell scores the first Everton goal
With a 3-1 beat down of Aston Villa at Goodison Park today, Everton reached the FA Cup quarterfinals. Jack Rodwell and Mikel Arteta scored in the first half and Tim Cahill added the insurance goal in the 76th minute to send the Toffees through. Villa could muster just James Milner’s first half penalty that drew the score even at 1-1 in the 8th minute.
Everton have played with exceptional form since in 2009 and today’s strong victory bodes well for the Toffees as they try to catch up with Arsenal and Villa in the Premiership.
Man United and Derby County kick off at the Pride Park Stadium in mere minutes. I’ll have that recap when it’s through this afternoon.
January 25, 2009
Both FA Cup matches today were unable to find a single winner. Arsenal started the day traveling to Wales and drawing Cardiff City nil-nil at Ninian Park. The match was quite different from other nil-nil matches we’ve seen this season as both clubs had ample opportunities in a very exciting match. The Emirates Stadium will now play host to the re-match.
The other match today saw Liverpool even out Everton 1-1 when Steven Gerrard scored in the 54th minute at Anfield Road. Joleon Lescott had given the Toffees the lead on his header in the 27th minute but Everton were unable to keep the Reds from hitting the back of the net. Goodison Park will host the rivalry re-match on February 4.
January 24, 2009
With their quick-strike capabilities on display, Manchester United slipped past Tottenham in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup today at Old Trafford, 2-1. Roman Pavlyuchenko opened the scoring with a quick goal in the fifth minute for Spurs and gave the underdogs early hope. But in the 35th and 36th minutes, Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov (against his former club) tallied successive goals to give United the lead, 2-1. That score would hold through a tough second half to send United through and send Spurs crashing out of the FA Cup.
January 24, 2009
Today’s early matches featured some upsets, some expected results and a handful of last-moment heroics. Here’s the breakdown of what happened:
- First, yesterday’s match between Derby County and Nottingham Forest ended in a 1-1 draw at Pride Park Stadium.
- Today, West Ham United defeated Hartlepool United thanks to a late first half goal by Valon Behrami and a 45th minute penalty by Mark Noble. Hartlepool have a legitimate gripe as the penalty was clearly a bad call by the referee but as they did not score at all in the match, the home side’s complaints only carry so far.
- Sunderland and Blackburn completed a nil-nil draw at the Stadium of Light. The end.
- Michael Ballack scored twice and Frank Lampard added the finishing touches to Chelsea‘s 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge against Ipswich Town (where my dad used to live). Alex Bruce leveled the score at 1 in the 34th minute after Ballack’s first goal but after half-time Ballack and Lampard brought the Blues the expected result.
- Coventry City used Elliott Ward’s 87th minute strike to defeat home-standing Torquay United at the Plainmoor Ground.
- At the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster (where I was once stranded on a train), Doncaster Rovers bravely stood up to Aston Villa in a nil-nil draw. Villa, who have been on an impressive winning streak in the Premiership, could not muster a single goal at the Championship club.
- Watford survived two late goals by Paul Ifill to survive against Crystal Palace 4-3 at the Vicarage Road Stadium. The two Championship clubs put in the highest scoring match of the day.
- Michael Turner and Ian Ashbee scored for Hull City in a 2-0 home victory over Millwall. The Tigers’ victory is significant because Millwall, the League One side, are famous for having gone deep into the FA Cup including reaching the finals several years ago.
- Martin Paterson scored the only goal of the second half (89th minute) to save Burnley in their match against West Bromich Albion at The Hawthorns. The 2-2 draw is not unexpected after Burnley gave Tottenham a run for their money on Thursday in the Carling Cup semifinals and West Brom is the worst club in the Premiership.
- Fulham survived a scare at Kettering Town when Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora scored in the 88th and 89th minutes to give the Cottagers a 4-2 victory. Kettering, a lowly Conference side, had drawn the match even at 2-2 on Craig Westcarr’s penalty in the 83rd minute, his second goal of the match.
- A Marvin Emnes goal in the 83rd minute saw Middlesbrough through to victory, 2-1 over Wolverhampton at the Molineux Stadium. Wolves, a relatively recent Premiership side saw Sam Vokes pull one back for the home side after Alphonso Alves scored the opener for Boro.
- Sheffield United knocked of Charlton 2-1 at Bramall Lane behind goals from Danny Webber and Lee Hendrie.
- Finally, in the biggest upset of the day, Nathan Dyer and Jason Scotland (on penalty) scored first half goals for Swansea City to give the visitors a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth out at Fratton Park. Pompey, holders of the FA Cup, could not put together any scoring against the Welsh, Championship side sent the home side crashing out of the league cup earlier than planned.
Man United and Tottenham are playing right now at Old Trafford and I’ll have that result up as soon as the match is over.
January 23, 2009
So the Premier League will be taking this weekend off as many of its members will be competing in the FA Cup’s fourth round. There will be two rounds of Premier League matches next week with one mid-week and another at regular times next weekend. But without anything to predict for the domestic league this weekend, I’ll give you my predictions for this round of the FA Cup. And remember, there are always weird upsets in these tournaments. Teams like Millwall and Watford always seem to make it deep into the spring so don’t be surprised if some heavily favored clubs go crashing out of the league cup this weekend.
Nottingham Forest @ Derby County – Derby
West Ham @ Hartlepool United – Hartlepool
Blackburn @ Sunderland – Sunderland
Ipswich @ Chelsea – Chelsea
Coventry @ Torquay United – Coventry
Aston Villa @ Doncaster Rovers – Villa
Crystal Palace @ Watford – Watford
Millwall @ Hull City – Millwall
Burnley @ West Brom – Burnley
Fulham @ Kettering Town – Fulham
Middlesbrough @ Wolves – Boro
Swansea @ Portsmouth – Pompey
Charlton @ Sheffield United – Charlton
Tottenham @ Man United – United
Arsenal @ Cardiff City – Arsenal
Everton @ Liverpool – Everton
January 2, 2009
Roman Pavlyuchenko scored twice for Tottenham to send Spurs through Round 3 of the FA Cup over Wigan, 3-1. Pavlyuchenko’s penalty on 52 minutes opened the scoring before Luka Modric doubled the home advantage with a header on 76 minutes. Henri Camara pulled one back for Wigan in the 88th minute but Pavlyuchenko’s second goal sealed the victory at White Hart Lane in the 90th.
Today’s victory continues the strange run through non-domestic league play for Spurs. With strong showings thus far in the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup especially, Tottenham could yet finish the year with some hardware, just as they did last year in the Carling Cup. Of course domestically, Spurs can’t quite get their acts together, having spent most of the year in dead last and are just now several points above the relegation zone.
Spurs play the first leg of a home-and-home with Burnley in the Carling Cup on Tuesday at The Lane.