Paul Lambert's right, top clubs could do without the FA Cup
Ahead of the FA Cup third round Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert said Premier League teams could do without the competition – that it was a hindrance. And whilst the comments may have attracted much attention from fellow Premier League managers, the Scot is right.
The Villa boss claimed that no matter what other managers said, the league was everyone’s main aim; whether you’re fighting it out for the title, attempting to avoid relegation, or even if you’re destined for mid-table mediocrity all season long. And though Roberto Martinez, who won the FA Cup with Wigan last season, and Jose Mourinho leapt to English football’s premier cup competition’s defence, they can’t possibly disagree.
Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw with Blackburn at Ewood Park in the day’s early kick-off and will now face a replay at the Etihad Stadium, which is an unwanted distraction. Not only will Manuel Pellegrini’s side have another fixture to contend with during an already hectic season, they have had to cancel a trip to Abu Dhabi for a week-long period of ‘warm weather training.’
And the fans don’t care about the FA Cup, either. It appears that they would much rather save their money to go to a game that really matters. In the nine early fixtures that involved Premier League sides during the FA Cup third round, there was a potential total attendance of 315,988, yet just 186,966 fans made the trip to their respective stadiums.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: From baby-faced assassin to baby-faced tactician
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his name as a deadly substitute during his playing career at Manchester
United – an injury time winner in the 1999 Champions League final the finest example of this. And now the Norwegian boss, who took charge of Cardiff City earlier in the week, used his expertise to introduce Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell as the Bluebirds came from behind to beat Newcastle.
The Magpies took the lead through Papiss Cisse and looked good value for the win, but Solskjaer changed his team with half an hour to go and it paid dividends, as Cardiff picked up their first win at St James’ Park in 51 years.
Muted celebrations have gone far enough. It’s all very admirable paying respect to your former club by not doing backflips down the touchline if you’re lucky enough to score against them, but let's be honest, most people secretly enjoyed Emmanuel Adebayor’s now infamous 'episode' while scoring against former club Arsenal in 2009.
However, you’ve got to take your hat off to Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez. The Burnley-born striker netted the Saints’ third goal in their 4-3 win over his former employers. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were cruising at 2-0 but a stirring Burnley fightback saw the game level at 2-2. However, the 24-year-old, who started his career at Burnley and played 105 league games, pulled his current club ahead once more with a finish from close range.
The England international declined to celebrate the goal. In fact, he looked visibly distraught at helping to dump his boyhood club out of England’s premier cup competition, and, in bizarre fashion, looked to be consoled by his teammates. Awwww...
Everton’s Cup run a good sign for league hopes
Roberto Martinez rested a number of key players for the clash with their Championship opponents – most notably Romelu Lukaku, who was replaced by Nikica Jelavic. The Croat made his first start since September, scoring twice and missed a penalty as Everton proved too much for Harry Redknapp’s side. And as emphatic as the scoreline may have been, it is the Toffees’ strength in depth that caught the eye.
Martinez made five changes to the side that drew with Stoke on New Year’s Day and they still proved too much for QPR – who boasted 10 players with Premier League experience.
Everton lost just one game at Goodison Park during 2013 and currently sit fifth in the Premier League, seven points off leaders Arsenal. Providing that Martinez doesn’t have to deal with a spate of injuries during the run-in to the end of the season, it’s hard to imagine them not being in the top four mix come the end of the season.
Leeds: From Champions League to FA Cup humiliation
It was just a little over ten years ago that Leeds United were mixing it with the big boys of European football. Yup, during the 2000/01 season, the Yorkshire-based outfit were drawn in the same group as Milan, Besiktas and Barcelona. They even qualified out of their group, and, would you believe it, at the Spanish giants’ expense. But that all seems a distant memory now.
A gradual decline through the leagues over the last decade saw Leeds, at one point, fighting to gain promotion from League One, but Brian McDermott’s side are now aiming to win a place in the Premier League next season.
However, that couldn’t have felt further from reality today when they were humbled by League Two side Rochdale. The Whites were comprehensively beaten by a team two divisions below them and will now have to pick up the pieces if they’re to continue their fight for promotion.
Adebayor may be in good form, but he’s no "warrior"
Ahead of the third round derby with north London rivals Arsenal, Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood labelled Emmanuel Adebayor a "warrior." In fairness to the Spurs boss, the Togo striker had scored four goals in three games since he took over the reins at White Hart Lane and has looked a different striker to the one that had floundered under Andre Villas-Boas. But "warrior?" Nah.
"Fit and raring to go" was how Sherwood described Adebayor but, despite extra motivation to score against his former employers, he looked anything but. It may not have been his worst performance in a Spurs shirt, but the 29-year-old failed to link up with his teammates on a number of occasions inside the Emirates Stadium and drew a blank on the few chances he had in front of goal.
Theo Walcott was well within his rights to make his cheeky gesture
Simply put, Tottenham fans, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out!