FA Cup


Szczesny eyes cup final start

Arsenal number one Wojciech Szczesny is hopeful of making his first FA Cup appearance of the season in next month’s final with Hull City.

Szczesny has started each of his club’s 34 Premier League games to date this season, but has been rested for Arsenal’s domestic cup matches, with fellow Pole Lukasz Fabianski taking over between the posts.

The latter has performed well in Szczesny’s absence and saved two Wigan Athletic penalties as Arsenal secured a shootout victory at Wembley last weekend to book a place in the FA Cup final.

However, it remains to be seen whether Fabianski, who is out of contract at the end of the season, will be denied the opportunity to feature against Hull on May 17, with his rival keen to play his part in ending a nine-year trophy drought.

“I would love to play but it’s the manager’s decision. It’s up to him,” Szczesny told reporters.

“I think Lukasz has done really well and he deserves a lot of credit. I’m an Arsenal fan and I just want us to get the trophy.

“For us, it’s important to get a trophy and hopefully we can appease everyone at the club.”

After helping Arsenal overcome Wigan, Fabianski said he would “definitely be disappointed” if he was overlooked for the final.

Thu 17 April, 2014
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Mixed emotions for Clough after Cup defeat

Nigel Clough was both proud and disappointed following Sheffield United’s 5-3 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Hull City at Wembley on Sunday.

United were much the better side in the first half and led 2-1 at the interval thanks to goals from Jose Baxter and Stefan Scougall.

The League One outfit wilted under fierce Hull pressure after the break, however, as Matty Fryatt, Tom Huddlestone and Stephen Quinn all found the net in an 18-minute period.

Although Jamie Murphy pulled one back in the final minute, David Meyler struck a fifth in stoppage time to end United’s remarkable run in the competition.

“I’m proud of their efforts,” Clough told BT Sport. “But also a little disappointed, we had a chance today.

“I’m proud of the whole club and the support we’ve brought today, and I’m sorry for them that we couldn’t get through.

“It’s been a great Cup run and a great second half of the season and that hasn’t changed.

“It’s disappointing that we’re not there (in the final), but I think we’ll look back with better memories in a week or two.”

Sun 13 April, 2014
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Bruce hails Hull fightback

Hull City boss Steve Bruce praised his side’s response as they booked an FA Cup final place with a 5-3 win over Sheffield United at Wembley.

Hull went in at half-time 2-1 down after goals from Jose Baxter and Stefan Scougall had come either side of Yannick Sagbo’s equaliser.

Bruce made a double change at the break, bringing on Matty Fryatt and Sone Aluko, and it was the former who levelled the scores four minutes after the interval before further goals from Tom Huddlestone and another substitute, Stephen Quinn, put Hull firmly in control.

Although Jamie Murphy pulled one back late on, David Meyler added a fifth on the break as Hull reached the first FA Cup final in their history.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Bruce told BT Sport. “It needed a hell of a turnaround.

“You have to give credit to Sheffield United, they took care of the ball better than we did.

“It was an awful first 45 minutes, we had to do something about it and thankfully we got it right in the second half.

“A lot has been written about the name change (proposed by club owner Aseem Allem) which has probably overshadowed the players’ performances, but I’m delighted for the owners and everybody concerned.”

Captain Curtis Davies, meanwhile, said reaching the final was a dream come true, regardless of their showing on the day.

“We’ve prided ourselves this season on our defensive performances and that wasn’t one of our better ones,” he said.

“Fair play to Sheffield United – they were much better than us in the first half, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.

“It’s what we dream of when we were kids. Today we all feel like fans when we celebrate and go to the final.”

Sun 13 April, 2014
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Mertesacker pleased with Arsenal character

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker praised the character of his team-mates after they pipped Wigan Athletic to reach the FA Cup final.

The two sides were locked at 1-1 after extra time, only for Arsenal to beat Wigan 4-2 on penalties.

Mertesacker fouled Callum McManaman just before the hour-mark, allowing Jordi Gomez to give the holders the lead from the penalty spot, but the Germany international atoned for his earlier error.

He equalised with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, and although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the bar during the additional period, Arsenal still came away with victory.

Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison had penalties saved by Arsenal’s back-up goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, as Arsene Wenger’s men kept their chances of ending a nine-year trophy drought alive.

Arsenal will face either Hull City or third-tier Sheffield United in the May 17 final and Mertesacker felt the side proved a point on the back of four winless Premier League matches, form that has seen Everton rise above them to fourth.

“In the first half we were a bit timid,” he told ITV.

“In the second half I think we hit the post twice and had a couple of chances so it was a good comeback.

“I think we have great character, even though a lot of people have questioned that.”

Kim Kallstrom came off the bench to join Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla among Arsenal’s successful penalty takers.

The midfielder has suffered an injury nightmare since completing a loan move from Spartak Moscow in January and cut a relieved figure afterwards.

“It was a really tough game,” he told BBC Sport. “They defended really well but we pushed all the way through.

“The semi-final is all about winning. It was tough but we did it. We had to stay strong mentally and at 1-0 down it gets tough. We were focused and even though it was on penalties, we will take it.

“We have been struggling in recent weeks but you have to deal with that, it’s part of the game.

“Hopefully, it’s a great boost of confidence for the rest of the season.”

Sat 12 April, 2014
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Prediction: Wigan Athletic vs Arsenal

FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic aim to claim another major scalp and get closer to defending the coveted trophy, but they still face an uphill task against Premier League giants Arsenal. The Gunners will be under pressure following some disappointing results in the league, but they are aware this is their best chance of lifting a trophy this season.

Wigan produced quite a coup by winning the FA Cup title last term as they defeated Manchester City in the final at Wembley, but nobody believed the Latics could do it all over again, especially having been relegated to the second division. However, the team underwent a real resurgence under Uwe Rosler, with stunning victories over Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Manchester City seeing them earn a chance to battle Arsenal for a place in the final. After winning nine of ten games in the space of month and a half, the Latics have suffered a dip in form, winning just one of last five matches, but current form is unlikely to play a part in such an important game. The good news is Uwe Rosler has managed to rest some key men in the midweek clash against Milwall and despite losing that game, Wigan’s play-off berth in the Championship did not come into question. The likes of Jordi Gomez, Nick Powell, Callum McManaman and James Perch are set to be recalled, but Ben Watson, Chris McCann, Roger Espinosa, Rob Kiernan and Martyn Waghorn are all unavailable.

This is make or break time for Arsenal as the Gunners hope to end a nine-year wait for a major trophy, but while they are clearly hot favourites to defeat holders Wigan Athletic, Arsene Wenger’s charges will have to overcome a host of problems in order to qualify for the final. Heavy defeats to Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton acted as a serious blow to the players’ confidence, with the prospect of missing out on the Champions League qualification likely to put extra pressure on the Emirates outfit. Arsenal can, however, draw confidence from their impressive FA Cup run that saw them defeat sides like Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton, with the return of Aaron Ramsey likely to provide additional boost. It’s not all good news on the injury front for Wenger as Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny are not yet ready to return and Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky are all rated doubtful. Meanwhile, Mathieu Flamini misses out through suspension and Lukasz Fabianski is expected to start having featured in every FA Cup game this season.

Conclusion

Wigan Athletic did really well to come this far, but despite defeating Manchester City on the road in the process, I doubt they can claim another major scalp. Arsenal do have plenty of problems at the moment, but their sheer quality should prove the difference between the two sides at Wembley.

Verdict: Away win Arsenal (2)

Best Odds: 4/9

Bookmaker: William Hill

Fri 11 April, 2014
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FA Cup Preview: Hull City v Sheffield United

Nigel Clough will walk in his father’s footsteps when he leads Sheffield United out in the FA Cup semi-finals against Hull City at Wembley.

Brian Clough took his Nottingham Forest side – featuring son Nigel in attack – to the final of this competition in 1991, losing 2-1 to Tottenham thanks to a Des Walker own goal in extra-time.

This Sunday’s semi-final represents Nigel’s chance to claim the national limelight, but the Bramall Lane outfit will need to produce one of the Cup’s most famous upsets to book their place in the final.

United are the first third-tier outfit to reach the last four since Lawrie Sanchez led Wycombe Wanderers to this stage in 2001 – the current League Two outfit losing 2-1 to eventual winners Liverpool. No side from so far down the Football League has ever reached the final.

Having already dumped out the likes of Aston Villa and Fulham, United will not fear taking on a team of similar Premier League standing in the shape of Hull.

United have won this trophy on four occasions, their last coming in 1925, while their opponents this weekend are going in search of their first FA Cup final appearance.

Hull’s form has been mixed of late – losing four of their last seven in all competitions – but a 1-0 win against Swansea City last Saturday will have given them a timely confidence boost.

The KC Stadium side will be without cup-tied strike duo Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long for their first semi-final since 1930.

Despite their absence, manager Steve Bruce is looking forward to a Wembley reunion with Nigel Clough, whom he met as a player in the 1992 League Cup final, and fondly recalls his first encounter with his opposite number’s famous father.

“The first time I met his dad, I was at a PFA ‘do’ and at the toilet,” he is quoted as saying by the Hull Daily Mail. “I was at the urinal when, suddenly, I felt a whack from behind.

“I turned round and it was Nigel’s dad. He said: ‘You, young man, have been doing that to my son for the last 10 years, how do you like it?’ I laughed and Brian laughed.

“Nigel, for who his dad was, it can’t have been easy in his career.

“But Nigel has done remarkably well in his own right. Especially at Sheffield United. It is fantastic to get them to a semi-final.”

Tom Huddlestone could be in line for a return to Hull team after missing last weekend’s clash with Swansea with a back problem, while Bob Harris (thigh), Matt Hill (hamstring), Jose Baxter (hip) and Stefan Scougall (thigh) are all expected to be involved for United.

The winner of this tie will meet the winner of Saturday’s semi-final between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic.

Fri 11 April, 2014
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Deane backs United to pull off cup upset

Sheffield United have every chance of turning over Hull City in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, according to former striker Brian Deane.

United and Hull battle it out for the chance to play Arsenal or reigning champions Wigan Athletic in the final – both looking to benefit from the earlier elimination of some of the competition’s bigger clubs.

Despite being the lowest ranked team left in the draw, Deane is confident Nigel Clough’s men can add another Premier League scalp to the likes of Aston Villa and Fulham, who were both dumped out by United earlier in the campaign.

Deane, who played at Bramall Lane for seven years over three spells, claims the fact United have no play-off commitments or relegation fears can aid them in the cup.

Asked by Perform whether United could spring a surprise at Wembley, he said: “Why not? I did an interview before the Fulham game and I said, ‘why not?’

“This is no different a scenario. They’ve got nothing to lose and are playing off the back of a good stretch of form.

“It’s an extra game – a bonus game. They’re safe, so they’ll go out there and I’m sure they’ll give it their all.

“It’s a fantastic club is Sheffield United and it’s the typical rollercoaster journey.”

Clough has overseen an impressive turnaround at Bramall Lane since taking over from David Weir in October.

While their play-off dream has faded, Clough has taken them to the verge of their first FA Cup final since 1936.

“I kind of feel a little bit sorry for David Weir because it’s a bigger club than some people think it is,” he added.

“It perhaps takes time when it’s your first appointment as a manager – coming into a club that size, which really is a Premier League club.

“It’s big enough to be a Premier League club and the expectation of the fans is always going to be high. Everyone who comes into a job that like that – you’re seen as the messiah.

“But I think Nigel Clough has come in and he’s got a wealth of experience. He’s come in and done very well. Certainly, the fans are happy with how things have gone down there since he’s come in.”

Fri 11 April, 2014
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Bruce eyes FA Cup glory

Steve Bruce would rate masterminding FA Cup glory for Hull City as one of the finest hours in his illustrious career.

Hull take on Bruce’s former club Sheffield United in Sunday’s semi-final, with the winners taking on either Arsenal or holders Wigan Athletic – another of his former employers – in the final next month.

The Premier League club are aiming to reach the final for the first time and Bruce, who lifted the famous trophy three times in his playing days at Manchester United, has his sights set on winning the FA Cup for the first time as a manager.

“It is not often you get to an FA Cup final as a player or a manager. I was ­fortunate enough to win it three times as a player, but it’s taken me 16 years to get to a semi-final as a manager,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror..

“If I could win as a manager, it would be up there with the best achievements of my career.”

League One outfit Sheffield United side and Championship side Wigan have claimed some notable scalps to secure their places in the last four.

And Bruce is pleased to see some surprise packages in the latter stages this year, claiming it has re-energised the competition.

“I think it is so refreshing to see the FA Cup not being dominated by the big boys. It’s brought a bit of sparkle back to it,” he added.

“Sheffield United versus Hull City in the semi-final – I don’t think many people would have picked that at the start of the season.

“And how well have Wigan done again after beating Manchester City to lift the trophy last season?”

Fri 11 April, 2014
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Wenger targeting FA Cup glory

Arsene Wenger would be happy to end Arsenal’s trophy drought by lifting the FA Cup trophy this season.

Arsenal have gone nine years without a trophy but would go close to ending that barren run with victory over defending champions Wigan in Saturday’s semi-final.

Champions League qualification has always been Wenger’s top priority ahead of the FA Cup and League Cup.

But with pressure mounting on Wenger after Arsenal slipped out of the Premier League title race, the Frenchman now appears content with winning silverware via one on England’s domestic cup competitions.

“The Champions League was vital for us until now and, for me, at the start of the season the minimum requirement,” said Wenger, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

“But don’t imagine I sacrifice every day of my life not to win a trophy. Everybody fights for that. We all play to win something. If you are in the FA Cup everyone can dream of winning it at the start of the season.

“The championship … only seven clubs can dream of winning it at the start of the season. A cup is a dream open to everybody and that is the beauty of the FA Cup.

“We are back at Wembley and it’s great. It’s an important competition. You know we will not fight for the championship any more (this season), so it’s the only competition.”

Arsenal’s last trophy came in 2005 courtesy of their triumph over rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Fri 11 April, 2014
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Elmohamady relishing FA Cup semi-final

Ahmed Elmohamady is relishing Hull City’s FA Cup semi-final appearance this weekend and insists they will be ready for Sheffield United.

Steve Bruce’s men will be the favourites for Sunday’s meeting with the League One side at Wembley, having enjoyed a fine season on their return to the top flight.

Hull currently sit 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone, and appear all but assured of Premier League survival.

Elmohamady is glad he and his team-mates can take on United without any worries, but insists Nigel Clough’s side will not be taken lightly.

“We can look forward to the cup game and what is going to be a big game for us as players, for the fans and for everybody in Hull,” he told Hull’s official website.

“We have a week to build up to it and to focus on what will be a difficult game against Sheffield United. They are a good team.

“We’re all concentrating on that game now and trying to make everybody happy by making it to the final.

“We don’t want just one trip to Wembley this year. To go twice in a few weeks would be fantastic.”

Arsenal and Wigan Athletic meet in the first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Tue 8 April, 2014
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Ajax sign Zivkovic from Groningen

Dutch Eredivisie giants AFC Ajax have completed the signing of Richairo Zivkovic from FC Groningen.

Dutch Eredivisie giants AFC Ajax have completed the signing of highly-rated teenage Richairo Zivkovic from FC Groningen for a fee believed to be in the region of €2.5 million.

Zivkovic, 17, has inked a three-year deal at the Amsterdam Arena while revealing he originally intended to stay at Groningen for the long-term.

“Initially, it was the intention to stay at Groningen for a longer period and become a regular member of the starting XI in the first team,” Zivkovic told Groningen’s official website, www.fcgroningen.nl.

“But I also have ambitions and, when this chance came, I wanted to take it. “But before I will talk about Ajax, I first want to finish the season at FC Groningen in a good way.”

The Holland youth international, who has reportedly been garnering interest from English Premier League duo Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks, has been likened to former Groningen Arjen Robben, who currently plies his trade in Munich.

Zivkovic’s sparkling early-season form kept Uruguayan David Texeira out of the first-team at Euroborg, paving the way for the South American to join MLS side FC Dallas in an attempt to resurrect his career.

The 17-year-old ace has scored six goals in 23 Eredivisie appearances this season.

Hoffenheim want to keep Firmino

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim manager Markus Gisdol has revealed the club will do anything they can to keep hold of No. 10 Roberto Firmino, who has recently been linked with a host of top European clubs.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Internazionale have been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder, while many other clubs are undoubtedly keen on the youngster.

“Of course, we are well aware of all mechanisms of the football business,” Gisdol told Bild.

“But good players we have under contract and are a perfect fit to our tactics are players we basically want to keep at our club. “And Roberto has a contract at our club [beyond the end of this season].”

Although Hoffenheim want to keep Firmino, the best course of action for the club would surely be to cash in on the €15 million-rated ace, with the player’s contract set to expire at the end of next season.

Firmino has tallied 19 goals and 12 assists in 28 appearances in all competitions for Hoffenheim this term.

In other news, Internazionale Milano midfielder Esteban Cambiasso is expected to move to the MLS in the summer, according to River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio.

Tue 18 March, 2014
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Bruce calls for league focus

After booking an FA Cup semi-final spot, Steve Bruce has called on his Hull City side to refocus on their Premier League form.

Bruce’s side put three goals past Sunderland at the KC Stadium on Sunday to move into the final four of the Cup for the first time since 1930.

Even though Hull sit 13th in the Premier League in their first season back in the top flight, Bruce believes there is work to do to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

They return to league matters on Saturday with the visit of title contenders Manchester City, and Bruce has targeted at least two more wins to secure their Premier League status for next term.

“I still think we’ve got to win a couple more games,” he said.

“We’re a newly promoted club and we’ve made huge strides very quickly but there is still work to do and it carries on.

“We have to get ready to play Manchester City at home. But that’s the Premier League – we have to address that and make sure we stay here and get better and better.”

Hull have shown inconsistent form in the top flight of late – winning twice, losing twice and drawing once in their last five outings.

Mon 10 March, 2014
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Wigan 7/1 to retain their FA Cup crown

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: Wigan to win the FA Cup
Odds: 7/1 @ William Hill

After a shock 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium, Wigan Athletic find themselves in the FA Cup semi-finals to be played at Wembley. With the Lactics having won the competition last season at the expense of Manchester City – of whom they beat 1-0 in the final – they now find themselves two games away from retaining the cup – with Uwe Roslers men being given odds of 7/1 from William Hill to achieve it.

They will face Arsenal in the semis, and could face either Hull City or Sheffield Wednesday should they see past the Gunners to reach the final. It will certainly give them extra incentive going into the match that they could well spring yet another surprise in the prestigious cup competition.

Chelsea are the last side to have retained the FA Cup, but it will be only the second time in over 10 years that a side has successfully defended it. Since the final has been played at the new Wembley, there have been four different winners in seven seasons.

Can Wigan mark their name in history for the most unlikely of cup defences this season?

Bet: Wigan to win the FA Cup @ 7/1 with William Hill >>

Sun 9 March, 2014
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Rosler revels in Wigan success

Uwe Rosler basked in his “greatest day” as a manager after Wigan Athletic managed another famous FA Cup win over Manchester City.

Wigan memorably overcame their illustrious opponents in the final last year as Ben Watson struck the only goal at Wembley.

And despite being without Watson, who broke his leg last month, Wigan produced a repeat effort when winning 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Jordi Gomez’s penalty and James Perch’s strike rendered Samir Nasri’s volley a mere consolation and booked Wigan an FA Cup semi-final clash with Arsenal at England’s national stadium.

When asked whether the win represented his greatest moment in football, Rosler – a former City striker who enjoys cult status among the fans – told BT Sport: “In management, yes probably.”

He added: “Everybody knows my ties to Manchester City but I made it clear I am very happy and excited to be the manager of Wigan. I kept my emotions in control and I was just focussing on the job at hand.”

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan paid tribute to Rosler, who has reversed Wigan’s fortunes in the Championship since replacing Owen Coyle.

“Nothing can compare with actually winning the cup but to come here and win, and go back to play Arsenal in the semi-final, is a dream,” he said.

“The last five minutes seemed like 50 minutes. It’s all down to this lad, Uwe. He has got these lads believing.”

Sun 9 March, 2014
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FA Cup: Manchester City 1 Wigan Athletic 2

Wigan Athletic again proved Manchester City’s FA Cup scourge, following last season’s final triumph with a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

In one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of the decorated competition, Ben Watson grabbed the only goal as Wigan – who would go on to suffer relegation from the Premier League – triumphed over big-spending City in May last year.

Watson was not available this time around having suffered a broken leg last month but his spirit was invoked by the Wigan players, who wore shirts bearing his picture and the slogan, ‘We can do it! For Ben’ in the warm-up and went on to spring another sensational shock.

They were given a helping hand, too, by the much-maligned Martin Demichelis, who was arguably at fault for Wigan’s two goals.

In a moment akin to when he earned a red card that set up a UEFA Champions League defeat to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, Demichelis gifted the visitors a penalty – which Jordi Gomez dispatched – with a clumsy challenge on Marc-Antoine Fortune.

Things then went from bad to worse for the defender, whose dreadful positioning aided James Perch’s strike.

Demichelis’ blushes appeared set to be spared when Samir Nasri pulled one back with 22 minutes remaining, but Wigan held on to book a semi-final clash with Arsenal at Wembley and complete a happy return to Manchester for City legend and Wigan boss Uwe Rosler.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini, chasing a domestic treble in his first season at the helm having overseen a League Cup win at Wembley last week, rested Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and David Silva ahead of the midweek second-leg tie with Barcelona.

Wigan duly edged the opening exchanges as City struggled to break down a team determined to sit back and counter-attack.

The visitors’ patience paid dividends in the 26th minute as Gomez sent Costel Pantilimon the wrong way after Demichelis felled Fortune, having been beaten for pace by the striker.

City’s frustration increased thereafter as patient build-up play failed to yield openings of any note.

Their annoyance grew considerably at the start of the second period when Wigan grabbed a second.

James McArthur found space on the left wing and crossed for Perch to slide home ahead of Gael Clichy at the back post.

Pellegrini turned to the bench for answers, bringing on Silva, James Milner and Edin Dzeko in a triple change.

It almost paid immediate dividends as a Dzeko header struck the inside of the post from Clichy’s cross.

City did level soon after, though, as Nasri volleyed home from the edge of the area, his effort controversially going through the legs of Joleon Lescott, who appeared to be stood in an offside position.

The sides traded golden opportunities thereafter, Micah Richards curling just wide before Fortune blazed into the stands instead of sliding in James McClean.

Wigan’s goal then came under siege, with Emerson Boyce’s last-gasp challenge denying Dzeko before Scott Carson kept out Sergio Aguero at full stretch, but Rosler’s men held on for another famous win.

Sun 9 March, 2014
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Sunderland 11/4 to beat Hull in FA Cup quarter-finals

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: Hull to beat Sunderland
Odds: 11/4 @ Bet 365

Sunderland are just 90 minutes away from another game at Wembley, this time potentially in an FA Cup semi-final. Gus Poyet’s men aren’t favourites to win, but with the Tigers without their two first-choice strikers, there’s a chance Sunderland can emerge victorious when the two sides meet tomorrow.

Bet 365 giving the visitors 11/4 odds to see past Steve Bruce’s men, and after their heartbreak against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final, they will be desperate to get to Wembley again this season.

Their opponents have stumbled over the line in the FA Cup this season, but come into the game after two impressive wins from their last four league games, while earning a point against Tottenham at the start of February.

Sunderland have recently lost to Hull City in the league at the Stadium of Light, but their cup runs have been formidable. They beat Southampton 1-0 at home to book their place in the quarters, and will certainly fancy their chances all the more now Hull will be without Shane Long & Nikica Jelavic.

Can Gus Poyet inspire another cup run to Wembley?

Bet: Sunderland to beat Hull @ 11/4 with Bet 365 >>

Sat 8 March, 2014
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Man City’s Sergio Aguero 14/5 to score first against Wigan in the FA Cup

soccernews fooball-betting-tips pic

Competition: FA Cup
Market: Aguero to score first against Wigan
Odds: 14/5 @ 888 Sport

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is likely to start against Wigan for tomorrow’s FA Cup clash, and as a result is being given 14/15 odds to score first from 888 Sport. He’s been in the form of his career this season when fit, and will want to get back among the goals tomorrow in the FA Cup.

The 25-year old made his return from injury in the Capital One Cup final, but failed to score in the 3-1 cup win against Sunderland. However, after being afforded time to gain his match fitness, he’s being backed to fire Manchester City into the semi-finals.

Aguero has been enjoying inspired form this season – with 15 goals and five assists from 17 league outings. He’s scored four times in the FA Cup already this campaign. With City’s 5-0 win against Wigan in the Capital One Cup fresh in the mind, they’ll certainly be fearful of a repeat at the Etihad.

Manchester City have blown teams away in the FA Cup under manager Manuel Pellegrini – with 12 goals scored in just four games – which makes Wigan’s task of quelling the attack increasingly difficult. Will Aguero be the first to score when the two sides meet tomorrow?

Bet: Sergio Aguero to score first against Wigan @ 14/5 with 888 Sport >>

Sat 8 March, 2014
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Wenger delighted with Ozil showing

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised the performance of midfielder Mesut Ozil in Saturday’s 4-1 FA Cup win over Everton.

Ozil opened the scoring with a well-taken side-footed finish from inside the area before showing good awareness to lay on Arsenal’s fourth for substitute Olivier Giroud late on.

After seeing Ozil come in for criticism from various quarters in recent weeks, Wenger had reason to be pleased with the Germany international’s first goal since December.

Wenger also praised the club-record signing for his defensive play as Arsenal moved into the final four of a competition they last won in 2005.

“It was important for Ozil, as you want him to take his chance. He looked regenerated. He did the dirty work too,” Wenger explained.

“We had a quality performance from the first minute to the last. We were unlucky to be at 1-1 at half time.

“Giroud was important. He showed he can score goals when he has come off the bench.”

Arsenal now face the challenge of overhauling a 2-0 first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

“We can be inspired by our focus on the day (against Everton), our desire, and go to Bayern with the same spirit,” added Wenger.

Sat 8 March, 2014
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Martinez questions ´soft´ Arsenal penalty

Everton manager Roberto Martinez felt the penalty that led to Arsenal’s second goal in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat was “very soft”.

With the quarter-final delicately poised at 1-1 after Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Mesut Ozil’s opener, Gareth Barry was penalised for tripping Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the penalty area.

Former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta put Arsenal back in front from the spot, then Olivier Giroud added a brace as Arsene Wenger’s men boosted their hopes of ending their nine-year trophy drought with a 4-1 victory at Emirates Stadium.

However, Martinez felt the penalty awarded by Mark Clattenburg was generous for the London club and a pivotal moment in the tie.

“I still feel the penalty is a very soft call,” he told ITV.

“It’s the key moment and I felt obviously it’s a situation where Gareth is fighting with him for the ball. There is contact but is there enough contact for a penalty?

“The second goal was going to change the game competely. That second goal was vital, we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to score that.”

The defeat extended Everton’s winless run on the road against Arsenal to 20 matches in all competitions as Martinez’s hopes of becoming the first manager to win back-to-back FA Cups with different clubs were ended.

Sat 8 March, 2014
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Pellegrini backs Aguero and Negredo

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is backing Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo to resume their lethal strike partnership.

The duo forged a prolific pairing earlier in the season and have scored 49 goals between them already in the current campaign.

Argentina international Aguero, who has 26 goals this term, but has only recently returned from a hamstring injury sustained in the 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham at White Hart Lane in January.

Negredo has looked very much at home in his first season in England, scoring 23 times and proving to be a real handful.

The Spain frontman has not scored in his last six games and has not started a game alongside Aguero since a League Cup win at West Ham in January, when Negredo picked up a shoulder injury.

With both players now fit, City boss Pellegrini is backing the pair to carry on where they left off as City attempt to add more trophies to their cabinet following their League Cup triumph over Sunderland last Sunday.

He said: “In that moment (earlier in the season), it was very productive for the team – and I hope in the future it can be again.

“But in other moments when Sergio was injured, Negredo played very well at that time.

“It’s important to have important strikers. Strikers also live from the goals they score. Alvaro will return to his normal performance. He will continue scoring goals.”

City face Wigan Athletic at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – a repeat of last year’s final, in which Wigan won 1-0.

Sat 8 March, 2014
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Borini will decide long-term future in the summer; Nasri set for Man City contract talks

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini, currently plying his trade at Sunderland, has revealed he will decide his long-term future at the end of the season.

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini, currently plying his trade at Sunderland, has revealed he will decide his long-term future at the end of the season.

The once-capped Italy international, 22, joined Liverpool from A.S. Roma for €13.3 million in the summer of 2012 but has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular.

The 22-year-old forward, who netted two goals in 20 appearances in all competitions for the Reds last term, has been an important figure under new Black Cats manager Gus Poyet.

Borini has netted six goals — against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Southampton — in 28 competitive appearances for Sunderland in 2013/14.

“That means I am made for a big team,” the former Chelsea youth product told The Mirror regarding his goal-scoring performances against top-tier opponents this term.

“We will see what will happen until the end of the season, and try to beat the big teams and the small ones, and then let’s see in the summer.

“It was a great feeling scoring in the cup final. Two or three times what I normally feel for a goal.

“A great feeling, all emotions, especially against a big team when no one expected us to be in front against Manchester City at Wembley.”

Sunderland (6-6-14) — priced at 9/5 to suffer relegation — will host Crystal Palace (8-3-16) — backed by the bookmakers at 19/10 to finish in the bottom three — in their next English Premier League fixture on Saturday, 15 March 2014.

Nasri set for Man City contract talks

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri has confirmed he is on the verge of opening contract negotiations with the club over a new deal.

The France international, who joined City from Premier League rivals Arsenal in a deal believed to be worth £25 million in August 2011, has had a very good season for the title contenders after a less-than-stellar 2012/13 campaign.

The 26-year-old midfielder has totaled four goals and three assists in 22 league appearances for Manuel Pellegrini’s side and his recent return from injury will surely boost the club’s morale.

“Talks? I know they are planned,” Nasri told L’Equipe.

“The officials called my agent to tell him we have to talk. Then, we will see.

“The objective is to win the Champions League in a few years’ time.

“But when you are happy somewhere, I can’t see why you should have to change scene.”

City can book their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a win against Championship side Wigan Athletic at the weekend.

FA Cup holders Wigan, who managed to upset City in the final at Wembley last season, are 20/1 to win at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Fri 7 March, 2014
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FA Cup Preview: Manchester City v Wigan Athletic

Manchester City must ensure lightning does not strike twice when they host Wigan Athletic in a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final.

Wigan enjoyed their finest hour last May when Ben Watson’s late header at Wembley earned the Lancashire club a stunning 1-0 victory over big-spending City to lift the famous trophy for the first time, before being brought down to earth when they were relegated from the Premier League a matter of days later.

City have already thrashed their local rivals 5-0 in the League Cup earlier this season and the two sides lock horns once again at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup this Sunday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side added one trophy to their cabinet last weekend when they beat Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final and can move a step closer to winning another by making it a miserable return to the club for Wigan manager Uwe Rosler.

The German was a big fans’ favourite during his playing days at City, scoring 50 goals during a four-year spell at the club in the 1990s.

There will, however, be no room for sentiment when the former Brentford boss attempts to mastermind a stunning win for his promotion-chasing Championship side against his former club to secure another trip to Wembley.

Rosler, who was named manager of the month for February on Friday, said: “My first reaction (following the draw) was to ban all talk of that game. We started talking about this game this week. It was important to focus on the league.

“We go into the game with no pressure whatsoever. The pressure lies on City. We already achieved a wonderful cup run. Being in the sixth round of the FA Cup has only happened in the third time in the history of the football club.

“And doing that on the back of last year’s win made it even more special. We overcame big hurdles and now the hurdle is very big, but that also means there is a great challenge in front of us, for me as a manager, but also for my players to measure yourself against world-class players.”

Wigan, who have beaten top-flight sides Cardiff City and Crystal Palace en route to the last eight, have moved into the top six in the second tier on the back of a run of four consecutive victories and have also won their last four away matches in all competitions.

On-loan midfielder Nick Powell (hamstring) is not expected to feature and Wembley hero Watson will play no part as he is a long-term absentee due to a knee injury, but the midfielder was this week awarded a new one-year contract.

Scott Carson (thigh), Gary Caldwell (calf) and Shaun Maloney (hip) are also expected to remain on the sidelines.

Martyn Waghorn, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Rob Kiernan are cup-tied, but Callum McManaman (ankle) could return.

City boss Pellegrini will have one eye on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League last-16 clash at Barcelona, when his side have the major task of trying to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.

The Chilean is expected to make changes, but he will not be able to call upon Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) and Matija Nastasic (knee).

Fri 7 March, 2014
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FA Cup Preview: Hull City v Sunderland

Sunderland endured Wembley heartbreak last weekend and Hull City boss Steve Bruce is plotting to heap more cup misery on his former club.

Gus Poyet’s side were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City in the League Cup final at the home of English football on Sunday after Fabio Borini had put them in front.

That was Sunderland’s first trip to the new national stadium and they could make a swift return by seeing off Premier League rivals Hull in the FA Cup quarter-final tie at the KC Stadium on Sunday.

Hull have already done the league double over their visitors, with Sunderland having three men sent off over the two games.

And Bruce, a three-time FA Cup winner during his playing days at Manchester United, is determined to make it a hat-trick of victories against the club that sacked him in back in 2011.

Achieving that would see Bruce guide Hull to the last four of the competition for the first time in 84 years.

He said: “We’ve got an opportunity to make it to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final, a stage of the competition the club hasn’t been in since 1930.

“When you look at it from that perspective, of course Sunday is a big game for us. This is a big game for everybody. I’ve said it repeatedly, but a good cup run can enhance your season and we’ve got to try and get through to the semi-finals.

“When you get to the last eight of any competition, you start to smell the hotdogs (at Wembley) and there’s nothing bigger than when cup finals are at stake.

“As a manager I’ve never been past the quarter-finals of this competition, so a Wembley semi-final would be a first for me.

“As a player, I led a team out and lifted a trophy at Wembley and those are the things that stay with you forever.

“If we beat Sunderland, we’ll be going to Wembley so my players have to grasp the occasion and play well on Sunday. You need a bit of luck in the cup as well and it’s all to play for.

“We’ll be looking to produce a big performance and the crowd can play their part too in helping us get to where we want to be.”

Bruce will be without cup-tied strike duo Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, while winger Robbie Brady will play no part after being ruled out for the rest of the season due to a groin problem.

Paul McShane (ankle) and Joe Dudgeon (knee) are also unavailable.

Poyet’s Sunderland side will have to tighten up at the back after shipping seven goals in their last two games against City and Arsenal – where they were beaten 4-1 in their last Premier League encounter.

Midfielder Liam Bridcutt is cup-tied having played in the competition for Brighton and Hove Albion, while goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) remains sidelined.

Sunderland boast two FA Cup triumphs, the last coming in 1973, while their most recent appearance in a final came in 1992.

Fri 7 March, 2014
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Is Arsenal’s season about to collapse?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has saw his side slip to third in the Premier League table

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has saw his side slip to third in the Premier League table

Saturday’s games produced some key results at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea and Liverpool claimed wins, as did Everton.

One team from the top seven that did not claim victory was Arsenal, who produced a terrible performance to lose at Stoke 1-0.

Wenger out

The defeat left the Gunners trailing league leaders Chelsea by four points. Certain Arsenal fans are now calling for veteran Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to be sacked or quit, neither is likely to happen.

These were probably the same Gunners fans that were praising Wenger a few months ago when their team were flying high in the Premier League.

I try not to get carried away by team’s good or bad performances because we all know things can change in the blink of an eye in football. A few months ago Arsenal was the team to catch at the Premier League summit and now they are playing catch-up.

I was never truly convinced by Arsenal’s title challenge this season and thought they should have strengthened their squad in January, but that does not mean I believe that Wenger should leave the Emirates though.

Costly

Arsenal fans must be one of the most frustrated groups of supporters in the top-flight. They have the stature, stadium and infrastructure to be a truly dominant force on the European stage. However, this season has a major feeling of Deja-vu about it.

For years Arsenal fans have saw their club outspent by their rivals and falling behind. It is the same old story of Arsene Wenger treating the clubs money like it is his own and not spending it when reinforcements were clearly needed.

Arsenal reportedly had money to spend in the summer, despite the £42million signing of German playmaker Mesut Ozil, yet Wenger did not spend it. Anybody with a modicum of football knowledge could see that the Gunners were crying out for a world-class striker.

A theory that I subscribe to is the theory of strengthening when you are in a strong position. January was an ideal time for Wenger to go out and bring in fresh faces. The Gunners form has dipped since Boxing Day and fresh faces would have given everybody fresh impetus, just like the effect signing Ozil had on the club.

Wenger’s only January signing was an aging Swedish defensive midfielder who arrived in north London injured. Kim Kallstrom was in his pomp five or six years ago, when he was a star player for a strong Lyon side.

His arrival in January only caused consternation amongst Arsenal fans. Gunners fans ended up with a crocked Swede, instead of a shining new striker.

Silverware

All is not lost for Arsenal fans though. The Gunners face Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup next weekend. The game gives the Arsenal players a chance to bounce back against an Everton side whose form has been patchy over the last month or so.

The Gunners may find themselves four points behind Chelsea in the league, but as I stated above things can change very quickly in football. The likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City could drop points in the next few games and that could open the door again for Wenger’s men.

Difficult

The problem that Arsenal has is their nightmare fixture list. As a result of that Stoke defeat and the tough schedule ahead for Arsenal, the men from north London have drifted to odds of 20/1 to win the Premier League.

The Gunners face four of the top six in the Premier League in their next four top-flight matches. Wenger side visit arch-rivals Tottenham and title rivals Chelsea, before hosting another title rival Manchester City and visiting sixth-placed Everton.

After the cup game with Everton, Arsenal also face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last 16 Champions League clash. It will be interesting to see how Wenger prioritises these fixtures. The Frenchman needs a FA Cup victory, but the Gunners are not completely out of Europe.

By the time all those games have been played it is not inconceivable that Arsenal will be out of the Premier League title race and out of both their remaining cup competitions. The Gunners have failed to impress in their previous difficult spells this season and they do not exactly head into this group of tough fixtures in high spirits.

Hope

They say that it is the hope that kills you, but for Arsenal fans there is still hope. There is still enough time for the Gunners to rescue their season, if not then I suspect the calls for Arsene Wenger to leave the club will ring even louder.

Is Arsenal’s season about to collapse?

Sun 2 March, 2014
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Lescott wants to end City career with treble

Joleon Lescott wants to end his Manchester City career with a domestic treble, starting with lifting the League Cup this weekend.

England international Lescott is resigned to the fact he will not be offered a new deal at the Etihad Stadium ahead of next season, but is keen to add to the Premier League and FA Cup winners’ medals he has already picked up following his arrival from Everton in 2009.

The 31-year-old has been on the fringes of Manuel Pellegrini’s first team this term, but has started every one of the club’s League Cup ties and is expected to face Sunderland in Sunday’s final at Wembley.

And Lescott has outlined his desire to end his City career with more silverware.

“We are going to be at Wembley for the final and it’s going to be a great occasion and I want to be a part of it,” he said.

“That was something I thought about in staying and what we could achieve.

“If I can leave having won two league titles and a domestic treble this season, that would be perfect.

“I’ve known for a while that the club were not going to renew my contract, but not one performance has been altered by what has been going on with the contract.

“I could have gone in January, but I started the campaign and felt I’ve played enough games in competitions to warrant my place in the squad and some games in the team.”

Thu 27 February, 2014
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FA Cup Preview: Hull City v Brighton and Hove Albion

Hull City will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup without their big-money marksmen against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The burgeoning partnership between Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic was at the forefront of Hull’s 4-0 Premier League trouncing of Cardiff City on Saturday.

However, having represented their previous clubs, West Brom and Everton respectively, in the competition prior to joining Steve Bruce’s side in January, the duo are ineligible for Monday’s fifth-round replay against Brighton.

That is sure to be a blow for Bruce, who waxed lyrical about his most recent recruits after the win at the Cardiff City Stadium.

“When you are not playing very well, if you’ve got two like we have then you are a threat,” the manager said.

“The link-up play was there for all to see. The two of them have a great appetite for the game and work ethic.

“With the pace of Long and the physical presence Jelavic gives you, with a turn of pace too, they are a handful for any defence.”

But the visiting Championship side will still have their hands full at the KC Stadium, with Yannick Sagbo and Sone Aluko set to lead the line for Hull.

It was Sagbo’s last-ditch leveller that earned a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium to set up the replay after Leonardo Ulloa had put Brighton in front.

Should he get the nod, Sagbo is likely to be one of several changes for what will be Hull’s second game in three days – something manager Bruce has previously bemoaned.

“I find that ridiculous, I have to tell you,” he said. “Surely we could play on the same night as the Champions League, you would have thought.

“I think it is a UEFA rule, which reads nobody plays on the same night as the Champions League. We’ll have to take it as it is and deal with it as it comes.”

Brighton manager Oscar Garcia, who concurred with his opposite number’s view on the schedule, is also likely to make alterations having made seven for the initial tie.

His play-off chasing side enter the game d
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esperate to get back on track following a disappointing 2-1 home loss to Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

The winners will host Bruce’s former club Sunderland, managed by ex-Brighton boss Gus Poyet.

Sat 22 February, 2014
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FA Cup: Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Hull City 1

Yannick Sagbo’s late leveller earned Hull City an FA Cup fifth-round replay with Brighton and Hove Albion after a 1-1 draw on Monday.

Sagbo made the most of a rare start in the absence of the cup-tied Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, slotting an 85th-minute equaliser to cancel out Leonardo Ulloa’s first-half goal at the Amex Stadium.

Brighton were on track for a meeting with former manager Gus Poyet – now in charge of Sunderland – in the sixth round but paid the price for sitting back in the latter stages.

Sagbo and Curtis Davies were denied by the woodwork for Hull in the first half but Steve Bruce’s side eventually got their reward.

And they could have won it in stoppage time, only for David Meyler’s header to be cleared off the line by Adam Chicksen.

The Championship side could still get their reunion with Poyet, although they would have to win the replay at the KC Stadium.

Poyet was controversially sacked for gross misconduct by Brighton in July after the club’s failed campaign in the Championship play-offs.

Brighton controlled the early proceedings but chances at both ends were limited until Sagbo’s acrobatic volley crashed into the crossbar in the 27th minute, with goalkeeper Peter Brezovan well beaten.

The hosts took the lead three minutes later as Ulloa combined with Will Buckley, who made his first start of 2014 following a hamstring injury.

The Argentinian’s clever backheel played in Buckley, and he returned the favour with a well-weighted pass that sent Ulloa through on goal.

Tom Huddlestone raced back but Ulloa remained composed, lifting the ball over Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who returned from suspension, to delight the home crowd.

Hull could have drawn level within two minutes only to see the woodwork again come to Brighton’s rescue.

This time Davies powerfully met a Huddlestone corner but saw his effort thud into the crossbar, while Sagbo’s headed follow-up was nearly diverted in by Matthew Upson, who saw his attempted clearance fall into the arms of Brezovan.

Ulloa really should have doubled Brighton’s lead on the stroke of half-time, but inexplicably nodded wide when free at the far post.

Hull were slow to get going in the second half and even the introduction of Matt Fryatt – who scored twice at Southend United in the fourth round – and George Boyd failed to rouse them.

But as the game grew older, Brighton dropped back, and Sagbo made them pay with a clinical finish.

Sone Aluko, making his first start since returning from an Achilles injury, set up the goal, with his cross from the right well controlled by Sagbo, before he slotted through the legs of Brezovan.

And Hull may feel aggrieved they did not win it, as Robert Koren and Meyler went close in stoppage time.

Mon 17 February, 2014
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Bruce dreaming of FA Cup success

Hull City manager Steve Bruce is dreaming of FA Cup success ahead of his side’s fifth-round tie with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Bruce takes Hull to the Amex Stadium on Monday with Wembley on his mind after seeing Swansea City and Wigan Athletic taste glory in the domestic cup competitions last season.

And with a home quarter-final tie against his former club Sunderland in the offing, Bruce has allowed himself to think about once again lifting the trophy he won three times as a player.

“The big games are around the corner and there’s nothing quite like an FA Cup quarter or semi-final. I think once you get to this stage of the cup it’s different,” he said.

“If we can get past Brighton then all of a sudden you’re in the quarter-finals and it starts to get tasty and exciting.

“As we saw with Swansea in the League Cup and Wigan in the FA Cup, anything is possible in these competitions.

“You win five games and you’ve won the cup. So let’s get past Brighton and have a good run.”

Hull have only reached the last eight of the FA Cup five times in their history, with their best ever campaign coming way back in 1930, when they got to the semi-finals.

Mon 17 February, 2014
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Monk: Individual errors cost Swansea

Garry Monk bemoaned his side’s individual errors as Swansea City crashed out of the FA Cup fifth round in a 3-1 defeat at Everton.

Jonathan de Guzman cancelled out Lacina Traore’s early opener, but mistakes from full-backs Neil Taylor and Jazz Richards saw Roberto Martinez’s men re-establish their lead and book their place in the quarter finals.

Taylor’s misplaced pass was seized upon by Steven Naismith for Everton’s second, before Jazz Richards felled the Scot in the penalty area, allowing Leighton Baines to find the net from the spot.

“We were well in the game,” said Monk. “We finished the first half positively after going a goal down.

“Unfortunately, we made a couple
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of mistakes, which is frustrating. But they were honest mistakes, and I can accept them.

“The players are their own biggest critics, and they don’t need to be told.

“The first goal was a set-piece and we didn’t deal with the second ball. We reacted well and if you look at the first half, we had two or three really good chances. If they go in, it could be a different game.

“Neil then makes his mistake and Jazz then brings Naismith down for a penalty. But apart from them, we were well in the game.

“They weren’t cutting us open and having shot after shot. It was just individual mistakes.”

Explaining his decision to name a heavily weakened starting XI for the trip to Goodison Park, Monk added. “When you have seven games in 21 days, it’s impossible to play the same team every game.

“It’s a squad game. With Europe, you have to have that rotation. I won’t rotate for the sake of rotating.

“Until we conceded the second, you wouldn’t have believed we made eight changes.”

Swansea host Serie A outfit Napoli in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round-of-32 tie on Thursday.

Sun 16 February, 2014
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FA Cup: Sheffield United 3 Nottingham Forest 1

Chris Porter struck two late goals as Sheffield United beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 to set up a possible all-Sheffield FA Cup quarter-final.

Porter kept his cool to convert a 90th-minute penalty and then netted again two minutes later to settle the fifth-round tie at Bramall Lane on Sunday as United came from behind to claim another FA Cup scalp.

Having already dumped out Fulham and Aston Villa, United manager Nigel Clough will savour this victory over his former club and counterpart Billy Davies, with no love lost between the duo.

Jamie Paterson had headed Forest into a 28th-minute lead, but United – the lowest-ranked team left in the competition – hit back through Conor Coady after the break following a shocking Dorus de Vries error.

A replay at the City Ground looked on the cards before Porter’s late double proved decisive and sent United through to the last eight, where the League One strugglers will play host to either Sheffield Wednesday or Charlton Athletic.

The hosts did not seem overawed by their Championship opposition and had a chance to take a 12th-minute lead when John Brayford cut in from the left, but struck straight at De Vries.

A spell of Forest pressure in the 20th minute ended with Simon Cox appearing to be felled by Harry Maguire inside the penalty area, but Forest’s surprisingly half-hearted penalty appeals were waved away.

Forest controlled possession, but United were looking dangerous on the break and Jose Baxter wasted a great chance on 25 minutes, hitting a tame shot straight at De Vries.

United were made to pay for their profligacy three minutes later when Andy Reid crossed from the left and Paterson did brilliantly to steer the ball across Mark Howard and in at the far post.

Given the two clubs’ respective league positions, United might have been expected to crumble, but the home side continued to threaten and wasted another good opportunity when Stefan Scougall’s weak shot was saved after he latched onto Baxter’s throughball.

If the United players needed any further motivation at half-time, the news from the draw of a potential quarter-final tie with Wednesday should have done the trick.

And Clough’s men did seem to return from the dressing room with renewed vigour, putting Forest on the back foot and forcing two corners in quick succession with Maguire’s attempt deflected over before Scougall’s half-volley was well-held by De Vries.

United continued to press and, with clear cut chances hard to come by, got a huge slice of luck when De Vries spilled a routine Brayford cross to present Coady with an open goal and the youngster made no mistake.

The tie looked to be heading for a replay, but Greg Halford was penalised for handball inside the area on 90 minutes to give substitute Porter the chance to win the game from the penalty spot.

The former Derby County man converted easily and, as Forest went in search of an equaliser, United hit them on the break, Porter finishing off Jamie Murphy’s right-wing cross to seal a famous victory.

Sun 16 February, 2014
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