Britain Soccer FA Cup

Should Sergio Aguero escape a ban for his two-footed tackle?


Before Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero never seemed like a player prone to dirty tackles. But with the Argentinian’s two-footed stab tackle on Chelsea’s David Luiz perhaps that’s a notion we need to rethink.

In the 82nd minute of City’s thrilling 2-1 victory, Aguero and Luiz battled for a 50-50 ball with the Brazilian toppling to the ground and the Argentine following suit. Yet, in mid-air Aguero somehow managed to collect his feet and launch into a deliberate spike job on Luiz’ quad. Video evidence makes it difficult to refute the intent.

The FA can assess a retroactive three-match ban when a referee fails to see an incident. As referee Chris Foy has yet to file his report (which is due later today) it’s unclear whether he saw the tackle. He awarded a free-kick to Chelsea on the play but the infraction may have been whistled for the initial tangle between Aguero and Luiz. If Foy missed Aguero’s stamp, however, the FA has the green light to act.

Even if the FA reviews the incident there are questions as to whether Aguero’s actions will be deemed worthy of a ban. It’s a line that has grown increasingly blurry since last month’s case of Wigan’s Callum McManaman who escaped a ban despite his studs up tackle to the knee of Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. The unwillingness to penalize McManaman sparked outrage from Newcastle with managing director Derek Llambias declaring: “It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose.” In response, the FA insisted that it cannot re-referee matches and must strike a balance between retrospective bans and undermining the authority of match referees.

After Sunday’s match Luiz explained that if he were Aguero, he would  “apologize to everyone” for the poor tackle. But Chelsea’s sel-proclaimed ‘geezah’ doesn’t seem to be taking the incident too seriously, admitting that he didn’t see if it was a bad tackle because it was in delivered to his back side. “Sometimes you can be angry for five seconds and do bad things and you have to say this sometimes,” Luiz said.

“I forgive everyone in my life. People are happy when Aguero is scoring goals, doing things in the game. Many people have said to me this is not me and not good for the football. Many kids see the game, watch the game and want to see good things and not bad things.”

If Aguero is banned he will not miss the FA Cup final but instead would be suspended for City’s upcoming league games against Wigan on Wednesday, Spurs on Sunday and West Ham on April 27th.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.