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FA Cup preview: Will another power fall?

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The FA Cup will meet its four semifinalists by the end of the weekend, with decided favorites in three contests, if not all four.

[ MORE: JPW’s picks ]

Leicester will fancy its chances of knocking off Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea, but Brighton, Swans, and Wigan all know their status is that of underdogs.

Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 8:15 a.m. ET Saturday

Carlos Carvalhal is more concerned with keeping Swans up than winning an FA Cup, but he’s certainly not going to betray his club’s momentum by giving less than his best against Spurs. Tottenham had its scare last round and would sure like to put a trophy on its mantle, but don’t forget that Harry Kane is missing and finishing has not exactly been their strong suit.

Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion — 3:45 p.m. ET Saturday

Jose Mourinho is fighting mad after a midweek loss to Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League, and knows this is his only chance to collect hardware this season. Is that reason enough to discount the visitors?

Wigan Athletic vs. Southampton — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday

Honestly, this is more about Mark Hughes getting a feel for his players than trying to move onto the semifinals, but Saints will fancy building momentum and getting some redemption against a Wigan team dreaming of another fairytale run to cup glory.

Leicester City vs. Chelsea — 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday

Antonio Conte’s men are also done with trophy life for the season if they lose at the King Power Stadium, but Claude Puel‘s hosts have as good a chance at qualifying for Europe by winning this tournament as they did climbing into seventh and hoping United, Spurs, or Chelsea win this one.


Manchester United: Ranting Mourinho is back with 12-min run

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Off-kilter Jose Mourinho is, in some ways, the best Jose Mourinho.

A tactical wizard following last weekend’s well-engineered derby win over Liverpool, Mourinho was back under the microscope after his men couldn’t find much life in being dispatched from the UEFA Champions League by Sevilla.

[ MORE: Klopp “angry” at fixture switches ]

Mourinho entered his Friday press conference ahead of an FA Cup match with Brighton and Hove Albion, and went to town, reportedly saying, unprompted, “I am alive. I am here.”

The BBC described one comment from Mourinho as 12.5 minutes of uninterrupted talk.

“I am not going to run away or disappear or to cry because I heard a few boos, I’m not going to disappear from the tunnel, running immediately, the next match I will be the first to go out, I am not afraid of my responsibilities.” said Mourinho.

“When I was 20 I was nobody in football, I was somebody’s son, with a lot of pride, and now with 55 I am what I am, I did what I did because of work and because of talent and my mentality. So they can be together, I understand that for many, many, many years was really, really hard for the people who doesn’t like me; ‘here he is again, here he wins again’.

“For 10 months I win nothing, the last title that I won was 10 months ago, I beat Liverpool, Chelsea, I lose against Sevilla and now is their moment to be happy. I learn that in my religious formation, be happy with others happiness, so be it, I am a really happy guy.

Clearly the Manchester United and Liverpool managers are trying to out-bonkers each other this week.

Klopp “angry” at fixture time switches around UCL matches

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What’s five hours on a match day?

For Jurgen Klopp, the answer is a lot.

[ MORE: Liverpool “not the favorites” vs. City ]

While most were expecting to discuss Liverpool’s draw of Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals — and they got that, too — Klopp used part of his Friday press conference to complain about the shifting of the Premier League kickoff time between the two legs.

Klopp’s Liverpool will now contest the Merseyside Derby in the early match on April 7 instead of April 8, with the Manchester Derby staged five hours later.

Derbies and the UCL
April 4 – Liverpool vs. Manchester City
April 7 – Everton vs. Liverpool — 7:30 a.m. ET
April 7 – Manchester City vs. Manchester United — 12:30 p.m. ET
April 10 – Manchester City vs. Liverpool

This, of course, also gives Liverpool five more hours rest than Man City, but Klopp’s not going to let that get in the way of his narrative.

“I know countries where they cancel whole match days so teams can be in the best shape. We play Wednesday night against Manchester City and then play Everton at 1230 three days later. That’s not too cool but obviously we have to go the hard way, I am used to that.

“We play Wednesday night and then at 1230 means the players get up on Thursday and have lunch or breakfast and then we train and next day we are on second-day recovery and then you start at 1230.

“It is not perfect. We take it like it is but if I cannot be angry about something like that anymore and have to be politically correct and say nothing then I am dead because that doesn’t work.”

Moving the matches is interesting, but would only serve to congest both sides’ schedules at another time, so… Whatever, Jurgen. He’s one of the most colorful characters in the football world, so we’re happy he exists, but if these words were coming out of Jose Mourinho’s mouth the world would be frothing at his attitude.

Keeping in mind that derbies are derbies and both of these are fierce ones, maybe Pep Guardiola should mention that Klopp has to go against Sam Allardyce and Everton in between fixtures while Pep matches wits with Jose Mourinho with (probably) a chance to clinch the Premier League.

Men In Blazers podcast: Man United tops Liverpool but is bounced from UCL

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Rog and Davo break down Manchester United’s 2 – 1 over Liverpool and the fallout from Mourinho’s Mob’s Champions League loss to Seville. Plus, a temperature check at Arsenal and Spurs lose Harry Kane to injury.

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Pogba, Lloris, Kante named to France squad for March friendlies

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A sextet of Premier League players will be donning the shirt of Les Bleus next week as France brings its squad together one last time before the 2018 World Cup.

Manchester United pair Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, Chelsea pair N'Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris were all named to Didier Deschamps 24-man squad for a pair of friendly matches this month. France hosts Colombia on March 23 in Saint-Denis before traveling to Saint Petersburg to face Russia on March 27.

Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder and Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernandez earned their first senior France callups, but notably new Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte was left off the list.

Other notable absences are Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Man City’s Benjamin Mendy and Chelsea’s Tiémoué Bakayoko, each of whom are out injured. These friendlies are the last before the end of the season, when Deschamps will have to call in his preliminary squad, and players will fight it out for the final 23 places on the plane to Russia.