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Wigan, Manchester City cooperating with police after pitch invasion

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Some Wigan Athletic fans got a little too excited following the club’s shock 1-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup, and the police are now investigating alleged crimes that happened on the field and outside of the stadium.

Police confirmed to the BBC that two supporters were arrested outside the stadium on suspicion of assault while the police are working with both Wigan and Man City to investigate what happened pitch side after the final whistle.

[READ: Wigan bounce 10-man Man City]

Man City striker Sergio Aguero was involved in an altercation with a fan on the field after the game, and it appeared that Man City supporters threw down advertising hoardings onto the field.

“Football is a family event and the disruption that players and fans alike faced will not be tolerated,” Greater Manchester police chief superintendent Stuart Ellison told the BBC. “As soon as people were on the pitch, we immediately deployed our resources to the front of the stands, where they were able to keep the two groups of supporters apart and prevent any further disruption.”

Derby County book place in Championship playoff final

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Derby County just might find themselves playing in the Premier League next season. With Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, the Rams have booked themselves a place in the Championship playoffs.

After beating Brighton 2-1 last Thursday, Derby made an even more emphatic statement in the second leg. The Rams, who’d finished third in the Championship, thrashed the Albion 4-1 this time around. Brighton, who’d barely managed to wiggle their way into sixth, were only allowed a consolation goal in the 89th minute.

With their 6-2 aggregate win, the Rams will be celebrating tonight. They’ve got plenty of time to rest up before the big day, as the final isn’t for two more weeks. Derby will travel to Wembley on May 24, hoping to finish the day with a march to the winners’ podium.

It’s uncertain who they will be facing, however. Wigan and Queens Park Rangers played out a rather dismal draw last week, and are scheduled to meet again on Monday. Both sides were relegated from the top flight last season, and are looking to bounce right back.

Should Derby emerge triumphant at the end of the playoffs, their supporters will doubtless be hoping for a better showing than their last in the Premier League. In 2007-2008, the Rams made history when they suffered relegation as early as March, and ended the season with the lowest points total ever, notching just eleven points in the 38 matches played.

Sunderland manager would rather an FA Cup loss than a replay

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On Saturday, Sunderland host Southampton in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Black Cats then have to travel to the Emirates next week to try and take points off Arsenal, before a relegation six-pointer against West Bromwich Albion. March then kicks off with a trip to Wembley to face Manchester City in the League Cup semi-final.

With all that on Sunderland’s plate, is it really any wonder that manager Gus Poyet said he’d rather take a loss in the FA Cup than face a replay?

(READ MORE: FA CUP FIFTH ROUND PREVIEW)

Under Poyet, Sunderland have finally lifted themselves from dead last in the Premier League. But that doesn’t mean they’re safe – far from it. The Black Cats are still in the relegation zone, having a worse goal difference than West Brom, with whom they’re tied on points. Having to face Arsenal and Liverpool, with the Baggies and the Cup challenge in between, can’t have Poyet feeling fantastic about his side’s chances on digging themselves out of the bottom three.

And so it’s easy to agree with the Sunderland manager when he says a loss would be better than a replay, adding yet another fixture to the crowded schedule. “The last thing we want to do is a Wigan,” says Poyet, referring to Wigan beating Manchester City in the FA Cup last year, but getting relegated to the Championship in the same season. Perhaps a comparison with Birmingham City is more apt, as in 2011, the Blues beat Arsenal to lift the League Cup, only to find themselves relegated. Three seasons later, they remain in the Championship.

While it would certainly be nice for Sunderland fans to watch their  side lift some silverware, Poyet’s got it right this time. And it’s not as though he’s saying he’ll field a weakened side to focus on league play (although we’ll see when the lineups come out). But the Black Cats still have a chance for survival, particularly with the bottom half of the table so tight this season. Better the Premier League than a hollow draw with the Saints.

FA Cup Roundup: Few cup-sets on the way to the final sixteen

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Those looking for dramatic David-beats-Goliath stories from this weekend’s FA Cup action were solely disappointed. Only one Premier League side fell to lower-level competition, but as that side was Crystal Palace, who lost to Championship Wigan, it’s a bit difficult to even classify that game as a “cup-set”.

Watford, to their credit, did their best to provide us with a genuine thriller. The Championship side, currently 15th, went to Manchester City and nearly came away winners. The Hornets were up 2-0 by the 30-minute mark, and carried that lead until 30 minutes to the end. Then Sergio Agüero happened. The Argentine scored a hat-trick, with Aleksandar Kolarov adding a fourth, to make sure City advanced and kept their dreams of a quadruple alive.

(READ MORE: MANCHESTER CITY COME BACK TO BEAT WATFORD)

Liverpool started off Saturday’s action with a routine 2-0 win over Bournemouth, and Everton closed it in similar style by beating Stevenage 4-0. All in all nine Premier League sides advanced to the final sixteen: Arsenal, Liverpool, Swansea, Cardiff City, Manchester City, Southampton, Hull City, Sunderland and Everton.

The remaining slots are filled by Championship sides Brighton and Hove Albion, Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan. Two League One sides remain hopeful of making it to the final sixteen: Sheffield United play Fulham on Sunday, while Preston North End face a replay against Nottingham Forest.

Finally, one of Chelsea or Stoke will be the final addition to Round 5. The two sides meet tomorrow in the final match (excluding replays) of Round 4.

Friday’s Results

Arsenal 4-0 Coventry
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Preston

Saturday’s Results

Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool
Birmingham 1-2 Swansea
Bolton 0-1 Cardiff
Huddersfield 0-1 Charlton
Manchester City 4-2 Watford
Port Vale 1-3 Brighton
Rochdale 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Southampton 2-0 Yeovil
Southend 0-2 Hull City
Sunderland 1-0 Kidderminster
Wigan 2-1 Crystal Palace
Stevenage 0-4 Everton

Sunday’s Fixtures

Sheffield United vs. Fulham
Chelsea vs. Stoke City

James McClean deemed surplus goods at Sunderland; Wigan’s bid accepted

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Paulo Di Canio has called time on the James McClean project at Sunderland after accepting an undisclosed bid from Championship side Wigan.

The deal confirms McClean’s fate as surplus goods under Di Canio’s regime, which has brought in nine fresh faces into the fold, including Italian winger Emanuel Giaccherini from Juventus.

McClean joined Sunderland in August 2011 from Northern Ireland side Derry City as a player that then-manager Steve Bruce claimed was “one for the future.” Bruce figured the winger would begin in the youth development side and eventually make his way up.

But McClean had other plans and by December, he had looked a real find. With Bruce out and Martin O’Neill in, the Republic of Ireland international was brought on as a substitute in O’Neill’s first game with the club. Down 1-0 to Blackburn, McClean’s ferocious hunger and athleticism spurred the Black Cats to turn the match on its head, winning 2-1.

McClean went on to prove himself a menace on the left side of the pitch, notching five goals and two assists in just one half of a season, earning him Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year Award for 2011–12. For the $541,000 (£350k) it cost to bring McClean to the Premier League, he was arguably one of the bargain signings of the season.

But the fall was as quick as the rise, as McClean’s 2012-13 campaign was one to forget. Defenders quickly learned that his first touch was one of a brick when closed down quickly. What served as grit and determination in 2011-12 quickly turned to frustration for McClean. The boy had an edge, no doubt, but he also had a temper that reared its head at all the wrong times.

While Di Canio’s overhaul of the Black Cats makes it little surprise that McClean has gotten axed, it is a little curious given their similarities that the fiery Italian did not look to take McClean under his wing. But, sometimes similarities clash rather than gel and at the end of the day, it’s all a business. i

McClean still has talent though and could make quite an impact in the Championship. His pending arrival could also indicate that the Latics are not yet done dealing in this summer’s transfer market, and that Callum McManaman or Shaun Maloney could be on their way out of the DW Stadium.

Once personal terms are agreed to and a medical is passed, McClean will join a family of James’ in Owen Coyle’s midfield, alongside fellow namesakes McCarthy and McArthur.