FA Cup Sunday: Arsenal looks for revenge against visiting Liverpool

Leave a comment

If Liverpool mounts its first Premier League title challenge since 2008-09, its 5-1 victory over Arsenal will be seen as the season’s turning point – the day the team went from Champions League hopeful to legitimate threat. On Sunday, the Gunners get their chance at revenge when Brendan Rodgers’ team visits the Emirates in the FA Cup.

At stake is place in the competition’s quarterfinals as well as each team’s best chance at winning silverware this season. While both clubs are in the Premier League title race, Chelsea and Manchester City are favorites for that honor. Though City remain alive in the FA Cup, whomever wins on Sunday in North London will still be three wins away from a trophy. For Liverpool, it would be the club’s first honor since the 2011-12 League Cup. For Arsenal, silverware would end an eight-year trophy drought.

Shorter term, a win would also give Arsenal a measure of redemption. On Feb. 8, a Martin Skrtel brace within the first 10 minutes had Liverpool up two at Anfield. Goals by Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge doubled their lead by the 20th minute, with second half goals from Sterling and Mikel Arteta producing the teams’ final margin. While raising Liverpool’s profile within the title race, the four-goal margin also rekindled doubts of Arsenal’s title hopes.

Sunday’s match is in the FA Cup, not in league, but the effects could carry over. After back-to-back disappointments against Liverpool and Manchester United, Arsenal needs a result to muster some positive momentum ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Bayern Munich. And for Liverpool, another convincing performance will prove the result at Anfield was no fluke.

Other games – FA Cup Sunday

Everton vs. Swansea City – Player-coach Garry Monk leads his squad into Goodison Park to face his old manager – Everton’s Roberto Martínez. The Toffees will be favored to move into the final eight, but yet to lose under Monk, the Swans may be recapturing some of the spark that helped claim last year’s League Cup. While they’ll need to improve on the performance that got them a 1-1 draw at Stoke City, Swansea have already looked a more capable squad since the departure of Michael Laudrup.

Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest – Two lower division clubs compete for a surprise spot in the final eight, with League One’s United the lowest-ranked club still in the competition. On Sunday, they’ll welcome a Reds side that’s unbeaten in their last 18, their last loss coming at the end of November. Fifth in the League Championship, Billy Davies’ team has designs on Premier League return. For United, an FA Cup run is the silver lining to a season that has the Blades fighting for their third-tier survival.

Day Four: All the action from the U20 World Cup

Hong Hae-in/Yonhap via AP
Leave a comment

South Korea and Venezuela clinched berths in the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday, while Germany and Argentina have surprising work to do after two matches in South Korea.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

South Korea 2-1 Argentina

Barcelona B man Lee Seung-woo helped South Korea take a 2-0 lead, then hold on for the win and group lead over England.

England 1-1 Guinea

Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori scored a wild long range own goal to cost England the three points, but the Blues are still well-positioned to advance out of the group stage. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook scored for England, and it was a beaut.

Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu

Seven different Venezuelans have scored through a pair of shutout wins, with Caracas’ Sergio Cordova the only one to bag a pair.

Mexico 0-0 Germany

Germany has just one point through two matches, thanks largely to Pachuca’s Abraham Romero’s seven saves. Mexico was outshot 12-6.

Porto, Watford, Hull? Marco Silva in demand

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marco Silva is one of the hottest properties in management, months after eliciting cries of “Who?” following his appointment at Hull City.

While those cries may have been a tiny bit myopic given his time at Sporting CP and Olympiacos, the 39-year-old is now visible to the world despite Hull’s relegation.

[ MORE: Real Madrid nabs $50m teen ]

Silva will be back in England to meet with Hull on Wednesday, but a clause in his contract that said he could leave if the club was relegated gives the Tigers very little hope.

Rumors have him wanted at Watford, and he’s also been linked with a number of other jobs including Southampton (should the club part ways with Claude Puel).

However, the former right back is also reportedly a target of one of the biggest clubs in his home country: Champions League side Porto.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.

Allardyce resigns, opening up intriguing vacancy at Palace

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sam Allardyce is walking away on top outside the relegation zone.

The veteran Premier League manager, 62, resigned his post as Crystal Palace on Tuesday, weeks after leading another team to safety.

The move ends a tumultuous eight months for Allardyce, who was fired as England manager after an undercover sting exposed unethical dealings with agents.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

It also comes about an hour after somebody wrote that Crystal Palace should move on from Allardyce. What a jerk, that somebody.

Rarely at a loss for words, here’s Big Sam from cpfc.co.uk:

I want to be able to savour life while I’m still relatively young and when I’m still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager.

This is the right time for me. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.”

All kidding aside — and I’m far from a Big Sam fan — congrats to the man on walking away to enjoy the finer things in life. He had a heck of a run, and we’ll see how long he can resist being away from the fray. Cheers, Sam.