FA Cup roundup – City downed by Wigan as the semifinals are set

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Just four teams remain in the FA Cup.

The semifinals will feature Arsenal, Hull City, League One’s Sheffield United, and the defending champions Wigan Athletic as Arsenal looks to avoid upsets against three clear underdogs with a chance to do something big.

Yesterday’s action saw Arsenal take out their recent anger on Everton 4-1, with Mesut Ozil making a strong comeback from his time on the bench and Olivier Giroud picked up a goal off the bench.

(MORE: Arsenal 4-1 Everton: Gunners book FA Cup semifinal spot)

Today, three more fixtures have locked in the semifinals for the event.

Sheffield United 2-0 Charlton Athletic

It was 0-0 for a while, but the Blades broke Charlton’s hearts with a pair of second-half goals from Ryan Flynn and Jay Brayford put Sheffield United through.

It’s another monumental win for new manager Nigel Clough, who took over a team in the League One relegation zone, and he not only has them 11th in the league, but now has a chance to make it to Wembley.

source: Getty Images
David Meyler, a week after being at the forefront of the Alan Pardew blowup, scored for Hull.

Hull City 3-0 Sunderland

Gus Poyet dropped Jozy Altidore again, this time due to a training ground injury, and the Black Cats were stomped by Hull City at KC Stadium.  A trio of goals were bagged in quick succession, as Curtis Davies, David Meyler, and Matty Fryatt all scored within nine minutes, the last with 13 minutes left on the clock.

It also could have been worse, as Sone Aluko missed a penalty for the hosts in the first half.

Manchester City 1-2 Wigan Athletic

Yup, that happened. After securing the Capital One Cup a few weeks ago, it’s back to cup disappointment for the Sky Blues, as a Jordi Gomez penalty and a James Perch early-second-half score gave Wigan the victory.

Samir Nasri threaded the needle for a consolation after City made a triple substitution but it was not enough as Wigan defended admirably down the stretch as City poured on the pressure.

It only adds to the calamities at the back for Manuel Pellegrini, with rumors of City’s possible hands on deck for Sergio Ramos.  Gael Clichy was beaten on the second Wigan goal, and once again Martin Demichelis is in the spotlight at the back conceding the first-half penalty.

The Wigan victory means Arsenal are the only big club to make the semifinals, and at least one smaller club will have the opportunity to take home a memorable piece of silverware from Wembley.


Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic

Hull City vs Sheffield United

“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.