Tag Archives: FA Cup

World Cup, VAR and more: What to expect from football in 2018?


2018. To borrow from Star Wars, it’s a new hope. Every new season, every new year, is about hope. The hope that it will be better and never more so than in a World Cup year.

But what does the year hold in store for the English game as a whole?

  1. VARs

The FA Cup tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace is the first competitive match where the new technology will be used in an English club match. The authorities are hoping that it will reduce the number of incorrect decisions.

This past week saw officials under scrutiny with controversial penalties awarded at West Brom, Arsenal and Liverpool. Dare I mention Tottenham’s offside goals which brought them four points?

VARs come into their own this week with the Carabao Cup semi-finals using their services, but largely, everyone is waiting for the first controversy. And the reaction of the manager afterwards.

Will it make things better? We hope so. We hope that the referee on the pitch won’t be so egotistical or proud to reverse an ‘obviously wrong call’ even if he is the one who decides whether he’s been ‘obviously wrong’.

The system as proposed is flawed but only over time, when trust is imbued by a procession of correct decisions, the referees will accept the decision from the control room with its’ banks of monitors.

But every change must begin somewhere…

  1. Premier League Snobs Accept the Championship is Actually Quite Good

Any fan of a well-established top-flight club will deride the quality of football in the Championship. Yet it’s the most competitive division and probably the hardest one to get out of, in either direction.

The focus is always on the promotion race – as if there is some Promised Land in the Premier League.

The only promise is money and lots of it, which all end up in the hands of players, managers and agents anyway. And CEO’s; they do well out running a Premier League football club.

In general, the quality of football on offer is turgid. Local rivalries may see Stoke sneer at Burton or Chelsea laud it over QPR and Fulham but in all honesty, the quality of Premier League football is poor.

Highlight packages make it look glamorous but condensing 95 minutes of action into seven can make anything exciting. If we crammed everything good out of Eastenders into a seven-minute slot…no, that’s a step too far.

However, supporters need to look at the Premier League table. None of the bottom seven were promoted last year. None of last season’s relegated teams were promoted the season before.

At the other end of the table, any of the teams up to Nottingham Forest in 14th are looking nervously over their shoulders at the bottom three. Currently occupied by teams who weren’t promoted the season before.

The Championship is a division where the quality of football is a lot better than its’ given credit for. Little wonder those who come down find it hard to go straight back up.

  1. Manchester City Don’t Go the Whole Season Unbeaten


It may seem harsh but in many ways, Manchester City remaining unbeaten in the Premier League would be a bad thing.

Not because they play awful football; far from it, City are probably the best footballing side the top flight has ever seen. Not the best side though; defensively, they don’t hold up to Manchester United in 1998/99 or Arsenal in 2003/04.

However, if they go unbeaten, they will never be given the credit they deserve. Pep Guardiola is already derided as a ‘chequebook manager’ and reference to the amount of money spent overshadows how well he is coaching the expensively assembled players.

Maybe, just maybe, the best thing to happen is they win whatever honours they win but don’t go undefeated in the Premier League. Then they might be given the credit they deserve.

  1. The FA Cup Finds Its’ Bristol City

Let’s be honest, even Bristol Rovers fans probably enjoyed the Robins giving Manchester United a bloody nose. Maybe not, but everyone else did.

The FA Cup has become the personal property of Arsenal in recent years but its always good for the game when the exploits of Lincoln, Reading and Wigan occur.

Nobody remembers how Liverpool fared in last season’s FA Cup but the name of Sutton United is not forgotten.

With the moneyed sides fielding youth and reserve teams, the Football League clubs have the chance of claiming a scalp or two. Record books don’t say anything other than the result and scorers on the day. No judgement is brokered on the standard of the side fielded.

Grab the opportunity with both hands and don’t let the big clubs diminish the early rounds of the competition.

  1. England Win the World Cup

OK, that’s a hope. In fact, it’s a dream; the hope is that for once England don’t embarrass English football.

Is that too much to ask for?

Who Will Win The F.A. Cup This Season?


This season’s English F.A. Cup is likely to be the most open in years. All the top sides – both Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham – all harbor genuine hopes of wrestling the F.A. Cup from Manchester United’s grasp. But only one of them can be successful so let’s take a look at the teams that are in the running.

Have a look at the F.A. Cup schedule, find out the best betting lines for every game and heed some tips on how to make more money from cup bets.

Who Will Win?


Defending champions Manchester United are second-favorites at +600 to lift the trophy once again, but with Jose Mourinho leading his troops in four grueling competitions (Premier League, F.A. Cup, League Cup and Europa League), we recommend steering clear of backing the Red Devils in the F.A. Cup.

We also think that favorites Manchester City, at the slightly shorter price of +550, should also be avoided. Pep Guardiola has demonstrated his ability at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich to field weakened sides in what he perceives as secondary cmpetitions.

City are United’s likeliest challengers for the league title and are also involved in the Champions League, a competition Guardiola covets above all others. The F.A. Cup definitely isn’t his main concern.

We think Chelsea (+600) have the best chance of winning the F.A. Cup. The way they set up their side is reminiscent of 2007. A decade on and Antonio Conte will lift the cup with Diego Costa playing the same vital role that Didier Drogba a decade ago. This is a bet we think you should make as soon as humanly possible.

A Deep Run: Liverpool To Make The Finals

It is crucial, when predicting potential contenders, to think of their respective motivations at the business end of the season. Which teams will rest players due to other priorities and which ones will do everything in their power to capture F.A. Cup glory?

Crystal Palace, Watford and Everton, along with eventual winners Manchester United, were the last four teams standing in the 2015-16 campaign, all of whom finished out of the Premier League’s top four positions. It’s a quite telling fact. But that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen this year.


Liverpool will make a strong push for the cup. Jurgen Klopp is getting close to having a team to call his own. He’s a brilliant manager and it will take time to right the ship in Liverpool. Remember Sir Alex Ferguson when he took the reins at Manchester United? It took him winning the F.A. Cup to cement his position, and we think Klopp might get very close to doing the same in 2017.

The German’s abysmal record in cup finals – no wins and five losses – has to eventually come to an end. If Chelsea doesn’t win the 2016-17 F.A Cup, we recommend backing Liverpool at a tasty +900.

Stoke City (+3300) and Everton (+2000), both of whom have enough strength in depth to challenge, are good outsiders to back. Though we don’t think Stoke will make it as far as Everton.


Possible Arsenal Lineup To Play Against Manchester United


Arsenal face a tricky game against Manchester United in the quarter final of the FA Cup, which would probably be the best bet for either club to win a trophy this season, although Arsenal are still in the Champions League, they need an amazing performance to continue in their European journey.

Arsenal have to travel to Old Trafford and it never is easy to take on Manchester United, although Louis Van Gaal has stated a top 4 place is more important for United than winning the FA Cup. This tie is always one to look out for and this will be no different. We look at the predicted starting line-up for the Gunners in this all important clash.

David Ospina

The Colombian might not look at his best, but he should continue in goal for the Gunners in this important clash.

Hector Bellerin

Hector Bellerin has been impressive this season and should keep his place ahead of Calum Chambers in the starting XI.
Laurent Koscielny

Koscielny is the go to guy it seems in defence and with Paulista out, he would have to work extra hard work to ensure Arsenal do well.

Per Mertesacker

Per might have lost his place to the young Paulista, but with the Brazilian out for a few weeks, Per can ensure that he does provide good cover for the defence.

Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs has been excellent for Arsenal over the past few games and he should continue in the defence for the Gunners.

Francis Coquelin

The one good defensive midfielder at Arsenal, it seems that Coquelin can’t be dropped from the team.

Tomas Rosicky

The Czech midfielder is also enjoying his time at Arsenal and his career has almost been revitalized this season. Rosicky would partner well with Coquelin and provide a lot of control in the midfield.

Santi Cazorla

The Spaniard has been on fire for Arsenal and seems to be loving his football, he might be on his way out of the club, according to reports but he will provide a lot of attacking options for the Gunners.

Danny Welbeck

A return for the old boy, Welbeck might not be in the best of touches, but he should play ahead of Mesut Ozil as he provides a bit more in the defensive end that the German.

Olivier Giroud

Giroud scored in the last game against QPR and he does have a knack of scoring important goals against the big clubs.

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez could be the X factor for the Gunners as they take on their rivals. The Chilean has looked a class apart for the Gunners and should continue in the starting XI.

Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough: Possible Starting Line-up For The Gunners

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal are set to face a tough game against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. The Championship side have already beaten Manchester City in the last round and they would be looking to make it another round where they beat a Premier League side. Middlesbrough are unbeaten in their last 10 games and have won their last 5 games in the Championship, they are also on top of the Championship table as they seek a return to the Premier League.

Arsenal would have their hands full when they take on a confident Middlesbrough side and we predict the starting line-up for the Gunners.

Wojciech Szczcesny

Szczcesny is expected to start ahead of Ospina. The Colombian has been good in between the sticks, but Szczcesny could be given a chance to prove himself as Wenger could rest Ospina.

Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs was an unused substitute in place of Monreal and for this crucial tie; Arsenal might use Gibbs, who is more experienced to tackle a tough Middlesbrough side.

Gabriel Paulista

The Brazilian is all set to make his debut for the Gunners. Having moved from Villarreal in the January transfer window, the defender has been on the bench waiting for his chance and the FA Cup comes in the right time for him.

Laurent Koscielny

The Frenchman gets the nod since there really is no option apart from Chambers, who has not looked the best in the few games he has played.

Hector Bellerin

Bellerin was played in the home win over Leicester and should continue his role as the right back in the FA Cup tie for the Gunners.

Francis Coquelin

The rising star of the Arsenal team, Coquelin is literally the first name on the team sheets these days. He would provide the protection the team needs and has slowly become an important cog in the Arsenal lineup.

Tomas Rosicky

Rosicky has been in exceptional form for Arsenal and age does not seem to be catching up with him, he should play in midfield alongside Coquelin and provide Arsenal some creativity in the middle.

Santi Cazorla

Another player who has been playing exceptionally well for the Arsenal team, the Spaniard should continue in the squad and he would be playing as either winger in the front attacking four for Arsenal.

Theo Walcott

Walcott scored the 2nd goal for Arsenal (after coming back from injury) when they beat Leicester and would be looking to use his pace to tear the Middlesbrough team apart. Arsenal would be pinning their hopes on the speedster to unlock the defence and cause Middlesbrough all sorts of problems.

Mesut Ozil

The German would start this game since Alexis Sanchez could be missing the game after a clash of knees in the last game against Leicester. Ozil could play down the middle in his preferred No 10 role for Arsenal and could provide the spark they need.

Olivier Giroud

With Sanchez out of the team, it would be a choice between Giroud and Welbeck and Giroud would get the nod ahead of Welbeck as he seems to provide much more to the starting XI at the moment than the Englishman.

Louis Van Gaal Happy With a ‘Difficult’ FA Cup Win Over Yeovil Town

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal was pleased with an away win in the third round of the FA Cup after his side overcame a compact Yeovil Town to win the game 2-0.

louis van gaal
louis van gaal

The game was very slow for most of the 90 minutes as both teams struggled to carve out chances and test the opposition goalkeepers, but United finally found the breakthrough in the 64th minute thanks to a wonderful strike by Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera. Despite the goal, Yeovil kept looking for half chances but couldn’t trouble goalkeeper David De Gea. Van Gaal’s side finally wrapped up the win after an Angel Di Maria goal in the extra time all but finished the League 1 side.

The Dutchman told BT Sport, “It’s always difficult to play against such teams. They gave us not so much time and every ball came under pressure. I have lot of respect for the players and coach of Yeovil Town – it was not so easy for us.

“In the second half, we had a little bit more time and space, we played better and were more patient. We kept the ball better also and, because of that, we could score the winning goal.

“We dominated the game, more so in the second half. They had one chance from a set-piece, but we were organised and Angel Di Maria cleared it away. It’s just simple organisation. I think they maybe had one more chance after a mistake from one of my players, but that’s it.”

He also revealed that despite a little bit of luck, Herrera’s goal was a touch of genius which lifted the pressure of his players’ shoulders, “It was class, and not his first from outside the box. It had a little bit of luck, but you need that, I’m very happy for him.”

After a tough opening game, Van Gaal will hope that his side can kick on in the competition after admitting a few days ago that the FA Cup is his side’s only realistic chance of winning a trophy.