Championship

FA Cup fourth and fifth round draw

Manchester United and Liverpool face each other in what is the tie of the fourth round. Due to the coronavirus, both the fourth and fifth round draw were done on the same day.

The Red Devil’s who were last years semi-finalists face Liverpool, who of course won the Premier League last season after a 30 year wait. These two Premier league giants, are due to face other in the league this month, and this extra game between the two sides, has all the ingredients to be a classic.

In some other ties of note, third round giant killers Crawley are rewarded with an away game to Championship high-flyers Bournemouth. Fellow giant killers Chorley face Premier League Wolves, and if the Lancashire side beat Wanderers, then holders Arsenal could be awaiting in round five.

The remaining minnow left in the draw (Stockport, at time of writing), could face the mouth watering prospect of facing United in an alternate Manchester Derby match up.

Here is the full draw of the FA Cup fourth and fifth round;

FA Cup fourth-round draw

Cheltenham Town v Manchester City

Bournemouth v Crawley Town

Swansea City v Nottingham Forest

Manchester United v Liverpool

Southampton/Shrewsbury v Arsenal

Barnsley v Norwich

Chorley v Wolves

Millwall v Bristol City

Brighton v Blackpool

Wycombe v Tottenham

Fulham v Burnley

Sheffield United v Plymouth

Chelsea v Luton

Stockport/West Ham v Doncaster

Brentford v Leicester

Everton v Sheffield Wednesday

FA Cup fifth-round draw

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport/West Ham or Doncaster

Sheffield United/Plymouth v Millwall/Bristol City

Chorley/Wolves v Southampton/Shrewsbury or Arsenal

Barnsley/Norwich v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester v Brighton/Blackpool

Unpopular opinion; why Leeds will get relegated

Love them, or loathe them, Leeds United are a team that divides opinion.

Being known as Dirty, dirty Leeds, or their association with being a team with a bad image in terms of how their fans behave, one thing is for sure is that ever since veteran Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa wound up in West Yorkshire, it’s left the world of football stunned.

Spells with Atletico Bilbao was a success, where the Basque side stunned Sir Alex’s Manchester United in the Europa League and would go all the way to the final that year.

There would also be success, with Chile’s national team. The high intensity and high pressing made Bielsa’s Chile team a nightmare to deal with.

A round of 16 defeat to South American rivals Brazil in the world cup, wasn’t the end they would have wanted in the 2014 World Cup, but the fact that Chile qualified for the tournament after being absent in the last two tournaments before softened the blow.

Spells with Lazio and Lille were threatening to unravel one of the legends of the game’s managerial legacy.

So when Leeds United announced in 2018 that they have managed to secure the services of former Newell Old Boys, Argentina, Atletico Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa, eyebrows were raised and there was shock.

Notorious for his unusual seating position on the touchline, (something not too dissimilar from someone from the Asian Subcontinent going to the gents/ladies).

That point aside, his teams make you sit up and take notice. Marcelo Bielsa was a manager who had a damaged reputation, which was in need of repair and Leeds United were in need of a fresh start too.

A Fast, attacking, high energy and high press game, now moved to English shores and in the Yorkshire lanes . Kalvin Phillips has been seen as the Yorkshire version of Andrea Pirlo, partly due to the Bielsa affect .

The Italian legend Pirlo, with his luscious hair and a beard to match, ensured he wasn’t only easy on the eye off the pitch (being lady crush and man-crush material)

Former Juventus midfielder Pirlo was also easy on the eye on the pitch with how he effortlessly played the game. Where some players, looked like they embarked in a battle royal, he looked like he could has played in his suit and tie.

Back to the topic of Leeds, and after the Elland Road side came so close yet so far, in the 2018-2019 season, the 2019-2020 season was a successful one, all be it in unusual circumstances.

Last season’s Championship winners Leeds, were a neutral fan’s favourite, due to their swashbuckling approach.

With that in mind, many pundits and fans alike (yeah I was one), had Leeds United down as one of the sides who will take the Premier League by storm.

After an initial good start where the Lillywhites were up to third, battering’s against Crystal Palace and Leicester (both 4-1) and Manchester United (6-2) are just some examples of the point I am going to make.

Now, it’s brilliant when you’re not getting counter-attacked, but this is very Naïve from Leeds.

Yes, their attacking approach is highly commendable and admired, but someone needs to tell Leeds, this isn’t under 10’s. I am a football purist and love football to be played in the beautiful way, but I am telling a cautionary tale.

Bournemouth and Wigan are two prime examples of teams who face the severest consequence of naïve football, relegation. Leeds United fans after waiting for 16 years for Premier League football, will surely not want that.

No More years of hurt for Liverpool, praise the Lord!

Being a football fan of England and certain English clubs can be painful. Three Lions on a shirt song, being an Arsenal fan (not talking about myself here) – I think you can see where I am going with this.

With England, we the fans and mainly the “experts”, would bring England up and then knock them down. In recent years, thankfully the powers that be at the top of the game, have been more humble and started from scratch.

A centre of excellence was built and talent was brought through this centre of excellence in Burton. As a result of this, England’s under 17’s and 19’s tasted success on the global stage.

It seemed that process was that stringent of finding young talent, that scouts would be watching kids in the parks almost, when kids go for a kick around.

Watching kids playing in the park is usually a sign for the alarm bells to ring, but if this did happen, thankfully there would be some players who would become young stars for their country.

As a result of that England, in turn, got to the semi-finals of a world cup for the first time since 1990.

They even won a penalty shoot-out in the last world cup, waa hay! O how I cried in France 98 when David Batty missed his spot-kick on that fateful night in St Etienne against Argentina  , thus giving more penalty shootout heartache.

Arsenal, sadly for their fans are still making their team suffer mentally and emotionally. You know Gunners fans, you can stop at this stop and support another team, just think about your mental health, please!

After 16 seasons regularly featuring in the top four and having a monopoly on the FA Cup for a five year period towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, it’s got even worse for Arsenal.

A top-half finish looks an achievement at this rate, thought the George Graham days and Bruce Rioch era was a thing of the past? Obviously not.

Another club that likes to make their fans suffer has been Liverpool. Now, this might be harsh on the face of it, considering that Liverpool have won the Champions League twice in the last 15 seasons along with the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Everyone knows what the Merseyside club wanted though, and that’s the Premier League trophy. There’s been many near misses.

A “fact rant” by Rafa Benitez who no longer manages in England (fact).

There was a time where Liverpool games replaced bedtime stories. I am convinced this must be true they were that boring.

The Reds in that era under Gerrard Houllier, would without fail, make my brother sleepy whenever he saw them on the TV.

They were dark times, but then Liverpool changed tact and hired an Irish coach who’s team’s played football so joyful to watch on the eye.

Brendan Rodgers was his name, his teams to play attractive football was his game.

With Steven Gerrard as commander and chief on the pitch, along with forwards Louis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the then 18-time champions of England Liverpool came within a whisker of winning the title.

You could say, they missed out by the skin of their teeth, sorry Louis that might not have been funny … please don’t bite me! The title seemed in Liverpool’s grasp, but then they would slip up .. watch your self Steve (caution wet floor!)

Mockery was a plenty of that slip, Uruguayan Suarez’s eating habits and Daniel Sturridge’s injury record. A true story, I did see Daniel whilst I was walking – I saw him walking his got.

I must say I have never been so nervous seeing someone walk a dog, as I was convinced he would get injured, such was his injury record at one stage.

Putting the mockery to one side, Liverpool replaced Rodgers with German coach Jurgen Klopp. Former Dortmund manager Klopp had won the Bundesliga twice with Ballspielverein.

Liverpool were hoping the former Mainz manager could help bring what was becoming the increasingly elusive first Premier League trophy.

Careful planning ensued and a loss to Sevilla in the Europa League final and Real Madrid in the Champions League final, were painful but only demonstrated the progress the German manager Klopp was making with The Reds.

Further heartbreak would further occur, this time domestically in the Premier League. Jurgen’s Liverpool last year would painfully lose the Premier League by one point. This was made all the more painful, considering The Anfield side had only lost one game and accumulated 91 points!

This season, Liverpool seemed in no mood to mess around. The 3-1 win against Manchester City, was a signal of their intent. The Citizens who fought back last year to win the title from Liverpool’s grasp, by their high standards were poor this year.

Defeats to Manchester United (twice), Norwich and Wolves twice only emphasizes my point. Liverpool it is then who are Premier League champions after 30 years. Congrats to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool for their title win

Woolworths, Blockbuster, BHS and petrol for under £1 were the things of those days. A lot has changed since then, (as none of those now remain).

Football can breathe a sigh of relief, we don’t have to hear “this is our year”. Thankfully one of those years has been their year. Now here’s to hoping England win the world cup, so we don’t have to keep hearing “we won it 66”.

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Middlesborough Vs Huddersfield Match Report

A Lee Tomlin brace helped Middlesborough see of Huddersfield.

A Lee Tomlin brace helped Middlesborough see off Huddersfield.

A Lee Tomlin brace helped Middlesborough’s promotion charge get back on track with a win against Huddersfield.

The Teesiders came into this game with a nine game unbeaten run at home – and were looking to overcome the disappointment of last weeks draw with Reading. Middlesborough opted to start with ‘Kike’ and Patrick Bamford upfront, with Jelle Vossen on the bench.

As for the visitors Huddersfield, they were looking to build on last weeks impressive win against promotion chasing Watford. The Terriers included their three ‘big guns’ for this one, Nakhi Wells James Vaughan and Jacob Butterfield all start for the West Yorkshire side.

It was to no surprise considering how well Boro are doing, that they started the brighter in the first half. The ever impressive Patrick Bamford was denied by Huddersfield Town keeper Alex Smithies. Huddersfield couldn’t get into the game and there task was made harder when striker James Vaughan was forced off with a head injury.

Middlesborough did eventually go in front in the 61st minute, Lee Tomlin from a Kike pass rifled home an unstoppable shot from distance which left keeper Alex Smithies with no chance. That goal meant Huddersfield had to come out and attack – and to be fair they did.

Town top scorer Nakhi Wells unluckily hit the post with a fantastic effort which left the Boro keeper with no chance. As Huddersfield went in search of the draw, they were always going to be prone to the counter attack – and that proved the visitors un doing.

Terriers Keeper Alex Smithies who was up for a corner was clinically exposed by Lee Tomlin who scored with a 40 yard effort in the dying seconds, which killed the game off as a contest.

That win for Middlesborough sees them remain in fourth, as for Huddersfield this defeat sees them drop to 17th.

Leeds Vs Birmingham Match Report

Neil Redfearn's Leeds came back to win a point - but did little to reduce the pressure off the former Bradford midfielder

Neil Redfearn’s Leeds came back to win a point – but did little to reduce the pressure off the former Bradford midfielder

Leeds had settle for a draw for second successive week as a Luke Murphy goal helped the Yorkshire side share the spoils in this one.

The Whites decided to play Mirco Antenucci in this one after the forward wasn’t in last weeks starting line up. The visitors included highly rated Omari Gray in their side, as Gary Rowett’s side were looking to extend their brilliant run since the former Burton manager’s appointment.

It was the visitors who were quicker out of the blocks – and they went ahead through an eighth minute penalty which was scored by Paul Caddis. Clayton Donaldson was the man fouled which lead to the award of the penalty kick.

Leeds to their credit battled back admirably as Steve Morrison hit the upright for the hosts. The visitors did have chances of their own, Clayton Donaldson was extremely unlucky to see his effort come back off the woodwork.

The Yorkshire side overall had the better of the game, Scot Wooton and Steve Morrison missed some good chances, which thankfully didn’t prove to costly in the end.

Just when the Elland faithful thought they were heading for a defeat, up popped Luke Murphy late on to grab a hard earned point for Leeds and deny Birmingham a win which would have close the gap between them and the playoffs.

A good point for Leeds, in the circumstances – but the Whites will need to turn some of these draws in to wins. This result sees them move above Yorkshire rivals Rotherham into 20th. Birmingham on the other hand are looking up the table rather than down, the Blues are 11th nine points off the play offs.