FA CUP REVIEW.
Some say it was the greatest weekend in FA Cup history with the amount of shocks that took place. Bradford City and Middlesbrough were at the heart of the major shocks. The Bantams came from two goals down to beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, whilst Boro shocked a jet-lagged Manchester City side at the Ethiad.
Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City:
Match Report: Chelsea raced into a two goal lead at Stamford Bridge after Gary Cahill’s header and a Ramires strike. What happened next was something even the most faithful Bradford City supporter wouldn’t have expected. A sublime strike from Jon Stead before half time seemingly revived Phil Parkinson’s side and in the second half they didn’t look back. Felipe Morais, who previously snubbed a contract offer from Mourinho at Chelsea, hit the leveller in the 75th minute in front of the jubilant Bradford fans who travelled in their numbers. On loan Middlesbrough midfielder, Andy Halliday gave the Bantams a surprising lead in the 82nd minute with a rasping drive into the bottom corner, leaving Chelsea keeper Petr Cech helpless. Substitute Mark Yeates sealed the deal for City in the final minute after Bradford had come under siege from Chelsea’s front line. After the hosts had left bodies forward, a fast paced counter attack saw Yeates tap home, putting the visitors into the fifth round of the cup. Bradford have now beaten Arsenal, Aston Villa and Chelsea in cup competitions.. Not bad for a League One outfit, who’s starting line up is only worth £10,000 compared to Chelsea’s £203m.
View from the touchline:
Bradford Manager, Phil Parkinson, “The second half performance from us, I thought was excellent; We defended excellently throughout the game and had good spells of possession in the Chelsea half. We were attacking the end of our fans in the second half and we have to give credit to them also, they made it feel like a home game.”
Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, “The mentality of smaller teams is better, because they believe in themselves. It is a disgrace for a big team to lose against a team from a lower division. We must feel ashamed. It is easy for you now to understand why I don’t make changes to my team and stick with almost the same team every game.”
5th Round Draw: Bradford v Sunderland or Fulham
Bradford beating Premier League leaders Chelsea will give them the belief to go and claim more big scalps. Being drawn at home will also give them a confidence boost as they will expect Valley Parade to be a sell out. Sunderland will give Bradford a test if they beat Fulham in the replay, despite their poor form in the Premier League. Fulham will also offer a test to Bradford, but as mentioned previously, City will believe they can beat anybody now after defeating Chelsea at the Bridge.
Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough
Match Report: City travelled back from Abu Dhabi just 24 hours before the game against Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough and that was clearly evident. Despite having Sergio Aguero back and almost a full strength squad, City never really showed their best against Boro. The visitors took advantage of this and were helped by a number of excellent performances from Lee Tomlin, Patrick Bamford and more notably that of stand in keeper Tomas Meijas. The Spanish keeper made a number of sublime saves to deny Aguero and co before Patrick Bamford opened the scoring for the Teesiders in the 53rd minute. A scrappy goal but all goals count especially in a game of this magnitude. Fernando played a short back-pass to Caballero who’s kick cannoned off Adomah. The Brazilian then went to clear just as it was going in but his clearance hit an oncoming Bamford and went in. The on loan Chelsea striker wheeled off and celebrated in front of the many travelling Boro fans, who have been applauded for their efforts on away trips this season. City had a number of penalty shouts but referee Phil Dowd waved away all the protests, and it was Boro who profited. Tomlin produced a fine bit of skill, leaving Kompany and striking the post. Then the second came. A quick counter attack saw Kike played in and he gracefully tapped in the second for Middlesbrough after Man City hit the bar. An excellent result for Boro who are flying high in both the league and the cup. This defeat shadows some concern for City after two 2-0 home defeats.
View from the touchline:
Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka: “I can’t find words to describe my feelings today. We were very well organised, we have great quality up front and we have created many opportunities. I am very proud of them(The fans) and now we have to keep going in the same way, because together we can do very good things.”
Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, “We had 5 or 6 clear chances to score before the goal, but their keeper saved very well. We made too many mistakes in the first goal we conceded. We must focus our mind in Champions League and Premier League. It is very easy to have that excuse but i don’t think they’re tired.”(Regarding the players trip to Abu Dhabi)
5th Round Draw: Arsenal v Middlesbrough
Another dream trip for the Boro travelling fans to savour. Anfield, Ethiad and the Emirates, all in one season for a club in the Championship.. Not bad going. In terms of the game at the Emirates, I believe Middlesbrough will fancy their chances. They nearly upset the odds at Anfield and certainly did at the Ethiad, so why not at the Emirates. It is a difficult place to go and a tricky team to play but if the Gunners underestimate Boro like City did then you can expect them to beat the holders and progress to the quarter finals.
Brighton 2-3 Arsenal
Match Report: The holders welcomed back Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil back from injury in a game they made look harder than it actually was. Despite the hard work that the Gunners had to put in, it was an all round perfect weekend as many of their rivals crashed out of the cup. Arsenal were still in an apprehensive mood after their 2-0 victory over Man City a week before, and they started like a ‘house on fire’ racing out the blocks and taking the lead inside two minutes in front of a record 30,278 crowd at the Amex. A marauding run by Calum Chambers saw the young right back set up Walcott on his return who duly slotted the ball past David Stockdale into the bottom corner. It got better for the Gunners as they went 2-0 up in 24 minutes. Captain for the day, Tomas Rosicky played in Özil, who also was making his return, slotted in the second. A half time rollocking was on the cards for Brighton, who’s players looked star struck and didn’t threaten the Arsenal goal once. They did find themselves a way back in the game after the break. Defending has been an issue for the Gunners for as long as I can remember now, and they cracked up again. Calum Chambers was beaten in the air by Sam Baldock with ease and O’Grady managed to turn Mathieu Flamini and plant a strike into the bottom corner past a helpless Szczesny. Game on. Well for nine minutes. Rosicky, who had caught the eye once more played a sublime no-look pass out wide to Ramsey who then returned to the ball back only for the Czech to volley viciously into the back of the net in front of the travelling Arsenal fans.This pass led to Match of the day pundit, Phil Neville saying, “If he did that and I was training with him i’d smash him.” causing an uproar on social media from angered Arsenal fans. Baldock reduced the arrears once more after he walked through the Arsenal back line, but the Gunners progressed and continued their defence of the cup.
View from the touchline:
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger: “Overall, we controlled the game. At the moment we are in good shape. They (Walcott and Özil) have done well despite being out for a long time. We will have a go at retaining the trophy. The reports (Regarding Paulista) are correct, we are getting a player who is 24 years old, a good size and good pace.
Brighton manager, Chris Hughton: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and all you can expect is a reaction. You cant afford to start like that against the quality of Arsenal but we have showed great spirit today.”
Fifth round draw: Arsenal v Middlesbrough
A tricky test for the holders. Wenger would have seen what Boro did to Man City on Saturday and I’m sure he will be wary of the threat that the Championship side possess. Patrick Bamford will give the Arsenal defence a torrid time if they don’t start performing better than they have. Although by the time this game is played new recruit Gabriel Paulista will be available to deputise in the FA Cup. I believe it is Arsenal’s cup to lose, so they will welcome the challenge of Middlesbrough and should over come it, but not comfortably. Nothing is ever comfortable with Arsenal.
Aston Villa 2-1 Bournemouth
Match Report: It was like London buses at Villa Park on Sunday. You wait so long for one, but then two come at once. The same could be said about Villa’s scoring record this season. Having not scored for 223 minutes, Villa netted two against Championship leaders Bournemouth. Bournemouth arrived in the midlands in fine form with manager Eddie Howe hoping his side can have a good cup run whilst challenging for the title. Unfortunately that was to end as Villa always looked the better of the two teams. The hosts opened the scoring in 51st minute and what a goal it was to end their drought. New Spanish signing Carles Gil cut inside and let fly with a sublime strike that nestled into the top corner. Things got better for the Villains when Andreas Weimann slotted past Lee Camp in the Cherries goal. Callum Wilson netted a late consolation, giving the 7000 Bournemouth visiting fans something to cheer about. The scoreline didn’t tell the full story of the game as Bournemouth gave everything they had but struggled to turn chances into goals. Finally a bit of cheer for Villa fans after they have struggled to find any positives this season.
View from the touchline:
Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, “We needed to get through. All credit to the team, I thought we deserved the win. The supporters went through a hard time just like the players. The win today will certainly help us.”
Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe, “I don’t enjoy losing but the experience of the day was a special one and I thought we did ourselves proud. We had a good first half performance, but maybe we didn’t reach those heights in the second half.”
Fifth round draw: Aston Villa v Leicester
One word. Tasty. When the pair met in the league at the King Power Stadium, there were two red cards, a fight and a Leicester win. The two clubs have since been fined and warned about their conduct in this game. A midlands derby that will make an eventful cup tie. I believe Villa have the strength to progress in the cup, but they need to ensure that they improve the goalscoring situation. Only 11 goals in the league is simply not good enough. The transfer window closes next week and to stand any chance in the league and cup they must sign. Leicester have been out of form, but have shown they could provide a shock.
Bristol City 0-1 West Ham United
Match Report: In form West Ham travelled to Bristol hoping they could progress unscathed against League One high fliers Bristol City. The Robins provided a tough test for the Hammers and looked the better team throughout this game. Matt Smith, on loan from Leeds caused the West Ham back line a number of problems on what should have been a relaxing Sunday. But for Andy Carroll’s long locks, Bristol City would have found themselves ahead. A tremendous goal line clearance saw the game stay level. West Ham grew in strength in the second half and finally got their reward in the 81st minute. Andy Carroll’s delightful cross was nodded in at the far post by Diafra Sakho in front of the travelling Hammers fans. There has been a lot of talk regarding Sakho, after he was ruled out from the African Cup of Nations with injury, yet somehow managed to play for West Ham. West Ham managed to scrape through this tie in the end despite City seeing a late Matt Smith header go wide.
View from the touchline:
West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce, “I knew it was going to be tough and it was exactly that. Bristol City showed exactly why they are where they are in the league. This is a pretty big result for us.”
Bristol City manager, Steve Cotterill, “We’ve played like that for most of the season, but we really needed to score in the first half. I am surprised at how many times we had a look at their goal. I am very proud of the lads.”
Fifth round draw: West Brom v West Ham United
West Ham travel to the midlands knowing a place in the quarter finals is at stake. They have been in excellent form in the league and shouldn’t have any problems getting past West Brom. If they keep the important players like Carroll fit then they should progress. They only managed a draw the last time the two met at Upton Park in West Brom manager, Tony Pulis’ first game. If they don’t underestimate their opponents, West Ham will progress.
Written by Joe Atkins [@JoeAFC_]