FA Cup


Pulis heaps praise on Peterborough

West Brom manager Tony Pulis paid credit to Peterborough United following their spirited display in the FA Cup on Wednesday.

League One outfit Peterborough narrowly lost out to West Brom in their fourth-round replay, with the top-tier visitors triumphing 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster was the hero for the Premier League side after saving two penalties in the shoot-out at London Road.

And while West Brom advanced to the fifth round, Pulis was quick to laud Peterborough post-match.

“That’s what the FA Cup is all about, the smaller team pushing the bigger team to the limit and they did that,” the Welshman said. “Credit to them and British football.

“It is nerve-wracking but Peterborough should take a lot of credit.

“We want to do well in FA Cup but it has certainly affected us with injuries and pressure on the players. I want to do as well in the cup as I have tremendous respect for it.”

West Brom’s win, however, might have come at a cost following a hamstring injury to Gareth McAuley, with Pulis already sweating on the fitness of Johnny Evans, Chris Brunt and Craig Dawson.

“We’re more concerned with injuries, that’s our biggest problem at the moment,” Pulis said as he looked ahead to Saturday’s showdown with Everton.

“They were going to have a day off on Thursday but we’ll bring them all in so we can assess the damage and move on from there. Everyone is in.

“It’ll be to check they have looked after themselves, they need to do stuff and we need to do stuff to them to get them ready for Saturday, we won’t be training.”

Thu 11 February, 2016
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Peterborough United 1 West Brom 1 (aet, 3-4 on pens): Foster spares Premier League team´s blushes

West Brom needed penalties to beat League One side Peterborough United following a 1-1 draw in the fourth-round replay at London Road on Wednesday.

Ben Foster saved spot kicks from Martin Samuelsen and Lee Angol as Tony Pulis’ side edged the shootout 4-3, Darren Fletcher having missed for West Brom.

Jon Taylor scored one of Peterborough’s two late equalisers in the first game at The Hawthorns and he put his side ahead after 54 minutes, shooting low across Foster.

Fletcher levelled the scores after 71 minutes, smashing home after sustained West Brom pressure as the visitors sought to avoid an embarrassing exit to lower-league opposition.

Foster’s efforts in denying teenage midfielder Samuelsen and 21-year-old striker Angol earned West Brom a trip to Championship club Reading in the fifth round on February 20.

Former Peterborough loanee Saido Berahino started for West Brom, while the hosts’ Gabriel Zakuani made his first start since November after recovering from hamstring surgery.

Peterborough began the game well on top and excellent close dribbling from Samuelsen led to Harry Beautyman having a shot blocked after five minutes, before Foster made saves from Taylor and Chris Forrester.

West Brom had failed to register a shot on target in three of their last four league games, but they mustered an accurate effort after 25 minutes when Ben Alnwick smothered Craig Gardner’s low free-kick.

Berahino went close to scoring the opening goal after 35 minutes when Salomon Rondon knocked down a long ball for his strike partner, who cushioned a drive just over the angle.

West Brom should have taken the lead five minutes before half-time, but James Chester, arriving late at the back post, could only aim his shot straight at team-mate Fletcher.

Peterborough had been by far the better side and the League One team took a deserved lead after 54 minutes when Angol broke at pace and fed Taylor, who shot across Foster and into the bottom corner via a small deflection off Chester.

West Brom knocked Peterborough out of the FA Cup in 2008 and 2009 but they almost fell further behind after 68 minutes when Gardner hooked a loose ball over his own crossbar.

Moments later Gardner almost scored at the correct end, fizzing a sensational volley just wide, and with the visitors cranking up the pressure they scored a fantastic equaliser after 71 minutes.

James McClean’s cross was cleared straight to Fletcher and the midfielder hammered a wonderful half-volley high into the net.

West Brom almost scored the winner with just four minutes to go when Alnwick hastily raced off his line, but Michael Bostwick got back brilliantly to clear Berahino’s shot away from danger.

Alnwick then saved with his legs from Rondon in the final minute of normal time.

Samuelsen opened up the West Brom defence with a glorious run eight minutes into extra-time, but his shot was over the crossbar, before Rondon’s 20-yard drive flew just wide of the post.

Substitute Marcus Maddison almost settled the tie with an audacious stroke of genius with minutes of addition time remaining, but his chip floated just over Foster’s crossbar. 

Zakuani then put his body on the line to block Gardner’s volley on the line and Berahino should have won the match in the dying moments but headed wide. 

Sebastien Pocognoli, Berahino, Gardner and Chester all scored from 12 yards for the visitors, but Foster was West Brom’s hero in the shootout, saving from Samuelsen and Angol, to spare the Premier League side’s blushes.

Wed 10 February, 2016
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Klopp needs support to not flop at Anfield

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed a mixed time on Merseyside so far

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed a mixed time on Merseyside so far

Liverpool exited the FA Cup at the fourth round stage against West Ham on Tuesday night, conceding a goal in added-on time in extra-time to lose 2-1.

The defeat was hard to take for the side from Merseyside, as they produced a decent display and arguably had the better chances in the game, obviously without taking them.

Klopp named an experimental line-up you could call it, with Brazilian defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva playing at centre-back and a number of youngsters also started the game at the Boleyn Ground.

Unfortunately it was not good enough to progress, as Angelo Ogbonna’s header was enough to see West Ham through and see Klopp’s men head out of the cup.

Mixed results since Klopp’s arrival

I am a big fan of Klopp from his time with Dortmund. He is the kind of good nutter that the Premier League needs. Full of character and great quotes, but I think the English game has rather taken him by surprise.

He was always known as a very well organised boss in Germany, somebody who liked to look at every detail of his team’s performance with his trusted backroom staff.

Liverpool’s displays under Klopp so far do not suggest that the Reds are run by a well organised managerial team. In fact the team are arguably not performing any better now than they were under the much maligned Brendan Rodgers.

It is too early to question Klopp’s managerial ability, and I would not as a self-proclaimed diehard fan of Klopp, but something is not working at Liverpool at the moment.

Klopp does not trust his senior players

Liverpool’s players had been under-performing long before Klopp’s arrival at Anfield and are one of the reasons that Rodgers was given the sack. The Northern Irishman was heavily criticised at Liverpool, but he was let down by some highly-rated, yet over-valued players on Merseyside.

It seems that Klopp does not trust some of those players to get the job done, hence the inclusion of so many inexperienced players against West Ham. The German decided to use those youngsters instead of his senior players, in a relatively important game.

The youngsters did not let him down producing decent performances, but it shows that Klopp is not so sure about his senior players. No doubt Klopp is making decisions about the players in his senior squad and is looking to get rid of some of those senior players in the summer.
Klopp will no doubt want to build a team with his own players and not the over-paid and over-rated players brought in by Rodgers. Whether the German is backed in the transfer market in the summer by the Reds owners is unknown.

Liverpool’s team needs a revamp and Klopp is good at getting value for money in the transfer market. He was the one who built a very capable team at Dortmund with a very small budget and in the process woke a sleeping giant.

If Dortmund was a sleeping giant, then Liverpool has been in a coma for the last 20-odd years in the Premier League, because of bad decisions from top to bottom at the club.

Klopp needs time to get things right at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp was never going to be able to turn things around in a few months, despite bold predictions from some rather optimistic fans and pundits that the Reds would finish in the top four this season under the German, which they are now odds of 20/1 to achieve.

Liverpool have been ridiculously inconsistent since Klopp’s appointment and it is clear to see that some of the players have already bought into the German’s ideas and philosophy, but some will never fit in at Klopp’s Liverpool.

The Reds fans seem to like and appreciate Jurgen Klopp, which they should do as he is still a highly-rated boss. I get the feeling that he will get some time from the Anfield faithful to get it right on Merseyside.

The fans may give him their backing, but will the Reds American owners FSG back the German in the same vein as the supporters?

Ironically whether Klopp fails or succeeds will be determined by how well the clubs owners back him this summer as he attempts to bring in the players to fit into his chosen style and formation.

If the Liverpool owners do not back him this summer and let him bring in his players, then the Reds may just slip into another 20 year Premier League coma from which they may never recover.

Will Jurgen Klopp get the support he needs at Anfield to be successful?

Wed 10 February, 2016
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Age is just a number – Ilori defends Klopp´s team selection

Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori does not believe there was anything wrong with Jurgen Klopp ringing the changes in the FA Cup, despite their exit from the competition.

The Reds were knocked out in the fourth-round replay against West Ham at Upton Park after the manager changed all 10 of his outfield players who had started in the Premier League draw against Sunderland.

Liverpool’s team included the likes of Brad Smith, Pedro Chirivella and Kevin Stewart, but Ilori does not think that is a problem and praised the youthful side’s performance in taking the 2-1 defeat all the way to the end of extra time.

“Age is just a number, players get experience by playing,” the 22-year-old told the club’s official website. “I think everyone worked hard, it didn’t matter their age. 

“I played alongside Lucas and he didn’t look at me and think, ‘he’s not as experienced’ and I didn’t look at him and think, ‘he’s the most experienced player’.

“We all play together, we train together every day and we are a team. I had a few chances to play, which is great.

“We just wanted the result and we thought we deserved it because we worked so hard. We didn’t get the result we think we deserved and the one we fought for, but that’s football.”

Liverpool return to action with a Premier League game at Aston Villa, where Ilori spent a loan spell this season without playing, on Sunday.

Wed 10 February, 2016
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West Brom 23/20 to see past Peterborough tonight in the FA Cup fourth round

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: West Brom to win against Peterborough
Odds: 23/20 @ Betfair

West Bromwich Albion travel to face Peterborough United in the FA Cup fourth round replay, and are favourites to win at the ABAX Stadium with how much their League One opposition have struggled of late.

The Premier League giants have been inconsistent themselves of late, but they have a considerably stronger squad more than good enough to deliver. Manager Tony Pulis is taking the competition seriously, and certainly doesn’t want a premature exit spoiling Albion’s chances of a deep run.

However, West Brom have failed to win their last five in the Premier League, and have now gone to replays in both FA Cup rounds against Football League sides. Peterborough aren’t in good enough form to threaten an upset, however. Despite home advantage, United have struggled of late, and could come unstuck as a result.

The hosts have dropped points in their last two games in their own backyard, and have been short of goals of late too. As a result, West Bromwich Albion are being backed by Betfair with odds of 23/20 to deliver against the Posh to earn a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Bet: West Brom 23/20 to see past Peterborough in the FA Cup on Wednesday evening @ 23/20 with Betfair >>

Wed 10 February, 2016
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West Ham 8/5 to win against Liverpool in tonight’s FA Cup clash

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: West Ham to win against Liverpool
Odds: 8/5 @ Betfair

West Ham host Liverpool at Upton Park in the FA Cup fourth round replay this evening, and are favourites to come out on top against the Merseysiders given their superior form. Victory for United would be a notable scalp in the competition, while piling further pressure on Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

In the Premier League, the Londoners are coming off the back of three wins and one draw from their last six. At home, Slaven Bilic’s side have won three of their previous four, and are unbeaten at Upton Park in 10. West Ham have beaten Liverpool twice in the league ahead of tonight’s game, and could repeat the feat to reach the FA Cup fifth round.

Liverpool are struggling of late. The Reds have picked up just one win from their last six, but away from home they have fared even worse. Four defeats from six on the road in the league sees them as underdogs tonight, and Betfair are giving odds of 8/5 for the Londoners to win in their own backyard as a result.

Bet: West Ham to win against Liverpool in tonight’s FA Cup clash @ 8/5 with Betfair >>

Tue 9 February, 2016
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Peterborough United v West Brom: Berahino set for another chance

Saido Berahino will be given another chance to prove his worth to West Brom, with Tony Pulis set to start the striker in Wednesday’s FA Cup fourth-round replay at Peterborough United.

League One Peterborough twice battled back from a goal down to secure a 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns in the initial tie – Shaq Coulthirst and Jon Taylor on target to cancel out Berahino’s brace.

Berahino has not started a Premier League game since October, due to a reported falling-out with head coach Pulis.

The former England Under-21 striker struggled to make an impact as a half-time substitute at Newcastle United on Saturday, but Pulis hopes that Berahino can benefit from an altered training regime sooner rather than later.

“He’s been doing a lot of weights so he looks a bit..,” Pulis mused. “He’s definitely stronger than he was before when he was out of the team.

“He’ll definitely play at Peterborough then we’ll see how he is. He’ll play a part at Everton [on Saturday] then hopefully with a good week’s training he’ll get some of his sharpness back that we need in front of goal.

“He’s missed a lot of games obviously. He’s missed half the season. We’re desperate to get him back involved again and playing games – being part of the team and he needs that game time.”

Pulis may have just three senior defenders fit for the trip to London Road – James Chester, Sebastien Pocognoli and Cristian Gamboa.

Peterborough paid a hefty price for their 1-0 win at Chesterfield on Saturday, as Michael Smith and Ricardo Santos collected second bookings after half-time.

Smith and Santos will serve suspensions against West Brom but the nine men held out with the help of 79th-minute substitute Gabriel Zakuani – the Democratic Republic of Congo international making his first appearance since November after hamstring surgery.

Manager Graham Westley must make a call on whether to pit Zakuani against Berahino and was full of praise for the 29-year-old’s courage.

Westley told Posh TV: “It’s incredibly really, what Gaby has done. Everybody told me what he was like as a character – I don’t think I really needed to come to the club to find out.

“He’s come back two months earlier than a Premier League player who’s had the same operation. He’s two months ahead of his schedule and he’s forced himself back into the reckoning.

“He shouldn’t be out there. He had his first full training session on Friday. I was touch and go about putting him out there but I’m glad I did.”

Fellow defender Jack Baldwin is also in a race to be fit after suffering a back injury in the initial tie, with Westley saying his player had been sent for “special treatment”.

Mon 8 February, 2016
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Prediction: West Ham vs Liverpool

Another intensive encounter is the last thing Liverpool need at the moment as the hectic schedule looks set to continue and this is something that West Ham will definitely be looking to exploit when they welcome out-of-sorts Reds in the FA Cup fourth round clash replay at their Boleyn Ground.

West Ham

While the impressive displays of Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have been making the deadlines, West Ham were flying under the radar, climbing to sixth in the Premier League standings on the back of some strong performances both home and away. New coach Slaven Bilic has clearly transformed the team, with some shrewd transfer dealings making sure the squad were properly reinforced. The Hammers added the likes of Emmanuel Emenike and Sam Byram to their ranks in January to further improve the strength in depth as they hope to secure a top 6 berth in the Premier League as well as reach the final stages of the FA Cup. West Ham missed the opportunity to beat Liverpool’s second string side at Anfield, but with Slaven Bilic again set to field a very strong side, the Hammers have got to be considered favourites to go through. Having been somewhat unfortunate not to get anything from the Southampton clash, the Boleyn Ground outfit will want to make things right on Tuesday evening.

Team News

Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho remain unavailable through injury, but Angelo Ogbonna should return to the side after missing the Southampton game.

Manager Slaven Bilic is unlikely to make major changes to the side, but Andy Carroll should be recalled to the side at Victor Moses’ expense.

Liverpool

After coming close to winning the long-awaited Premier League title a couple of years ago, Liverpool have experienced some testing times and nobody knows whether their dry spell will end any time soon. Even though the fans were rightly excited by the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, we can now see that he is no magician and that he will need time to get his ideas across. The Reds cannot seem to rediscover the lost confidence as witnessed by the failure to hold on to a two-goal lead at home against struggling Sunderland, with the fans’ protest against high ticket prices yet another problem the team have to contend with. As we have already mentioned, the FA Cup fourth round replay against West Ham comes at a bad time considering that the Europa League campaign resumes next week and the Reds are still missing a host of first team regulars, so everything suggests Jurgen Klopp will again be forced to play some youngsters from the start in an attempt to keep his key men fit for the final stretch of the season, which is bound to damage their chances of making it to the next stage.

Team News

The good news is that both Dejan Lovren and Joe Allen should be fit to play after suffering knocks in the weekend’s stalemate with Sunderland, while Daniel Sturridge is also back in contention.

However, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Skrtel, Divock Origi, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez remain in the infirmary.

Key Factors to Consider

  • West Ham did not concede in last three meetings with Liverpool (W2 D1)
  • The Hammers recorded comfortable wins in last two home games vs the Reds
  • Three first team regulars are out for Liverpool, while few more will be rested
  • West Ham are unbeaten in last 11 home games (W6 D5)
  • Liverpool failed to win last two FA Cup matches on the road (D1 L1)

Conclusion

West Ham have been in fine form of late and there are no doubts that the Hammers will take the high-profile match very seriously, unlike their opponents, who will be without quite a few star players. Taking also into account the Hammers’ impressive record in past meetings with Liverpool, we are backing the hosts to go through.

Verdict: West Ham to qualify

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: William Hill

Mon 8 February, 2016
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Police arrest 15-year-old over Carlisle racism allegations

Police have arrested a 15-year-old male in connection with the alleged racist abuse suffered by Everton players during the FA Cup meeting with Carlisle United.

Arouna Kone and Steven Pienaar appeared upset by shouts from the crowd as they celebrated the opening goal in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Brunton Park.

Referee Lee Mason instructed the stadium announcer to warn supporters over their conduct after consulting with managers Roberto Martinez and Keith Curle, while Cumbria police appealed for witnesses as Carlisle began their own internal investigation.

“Police have arrested a male as part of an investigation regarding allegations of racist behaviour directed towards football players in Carlisle United’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Everton,” a police statement released on Wednesday confirmed.

“A 15-year-old male, from Carlisle, has been arrested on suspicion of racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress by words contrary to Section 4a of the Public Order Act. 

“He has been bailed until March 9 2016.  

“The alleged incident occurred following Everton’s first goal in the match held at Brunton Park, Carlisle, on January 31 2016.

“Police are working closely with Carlisle United as part of enquiries to identify any other suspects.”

Wed 3 February, 2016
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Carlisle investigating alleged Kone racist abuse

Carlisle United have launched an investigation into alleged racist abuse aimed towards Everton striker Arouna Kone during Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie.

Kone opened the scoring after two minutes in Everton’s 3-0 win at Brunton Park, but he and team-mate Steven Pienaar appeared upset by shouts made from the crowd during their celebrations.

Referee Lee Mason consulted with Everton manager Roberto Martinez and Carlisle counterpart Keith Curle before an announcement was made warning supporters against abusive language, while Cumbria Police issued a statement shortly after appealing for any information from fans.

Carlisle have now promised to deal with any offender in “an extremely robust manner”.

“As we understand it, the match officials were notified that Everton players had heard or witnessed abuse of a racist nature immediately after they had scored the first goal,” Carlisle media officer Andy Hall told the club’s official website.

“An investigation has been launched, in line with the relevant authorities. If it is found to be the case, and we identify those responsible, we will deal with it in an extremely robust manner.

“We have worked hard to create a welcoming environment at Brunton Park and those efforts were doubled when we came under the spotlight, nationally and internationally, in the wake of the recent floods. 

“Carlisle United has grown in stature as a football club because of the way we have conducted ourselves, on and off the pitch, and we will not allow our reputation to be tarnished in any way.

“It would be wrong of us to comment further on the incident at this stage as we allow the authorities to continue to carry out their investigations.”

Mon 1 February, 2016
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FA Cup fifth round draw round up

Holders Arsenal will meet Hull City for a third straight season

Holders Arsenal will meet Hull City for a third straight season

There is no doubt over the pick of the fixtures from Sunday evening’s FA Cup fifth round draw, with Premier League champions Chelsea facing current title favourites Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues thrashed MK Dons by five goals to one on Sunday, just prior to the draw while City also had a winning margin of four goals as they thrashed Aston Villa on Saturday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are still on for the quadruple and the Chilean will be extra keen for success after it was announced on Monday that he will be replaced in the dugout at the Etihad Stadium by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola at the end of the season.

Cup holders Arsenal continue their pursuit of a third straight success in this competition with a home tie against Hull City – the side they beat in the 2014 final at Wembley and it is the Gunners who are favourites to lift the trophy this time around at a price of 7/2.

Deja Vu

Arsene Wenger’s men, who also beat Steve Bruce’s side on route to the national stadium last season, knocked out Championship promotion hopefuls Burnley in round four while the Tigers won at Bury.

There are two all Premier League affairs as Tottenham Hotspur, who knocked out Colchester United in Saturday’s first FA Cup tie face fellow London side Crystal Palace, who defeated Stoke City while Bournemouth host Everton after the pair beat Portsmouth and Carlise United respectively.

After easing past League Two high fliers Oxford United, Blackburn Rovers are rewarded with a home tie against Premier League opposition though they will have to wait to discover whether they will face Liverpool or West Ham United after the pair played out a goalless draw at Anfield in Saturday’s late kick off.

Replays

The only other fourth round tie yet to be decided is West Bromwich Albion against Peterbrough United, with last season’s semi-finallists Reading awaiting the victors.

Watford’s reward for edging past Nottingham Forest is a home draw against a Leeds United side who beat struggling Bolton Wanderers while the romantics will be casting their eyes to the Greenhous Meadow, where Shrewsbury Town, the lowest ranked side still in the competition, will face eleven-time winners Manchester United.

David and Goliath

The League One side, who are currently battling to secure their third-tier league status, scored a dramatic last-ditch winners against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend while Louis van Gaal’s side won at Derby County on Friday evening.

The fourth round replays will be played a week on Tuesday, with the fifth round commencing on February 20th.

Can Shrewsbury Town cause an upset and knock-out Manchester United?

Mon 1 February, 2016
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Martinez commends referee after Kone suffers alleged racist abuse

Everton manager Roberto Martinez praised referee Lee Mason after striker Arouna Kone allegedly suffered racist abuse in the FA Cup fourth-round win over Carlisle United.

Kone put the visitors ahead after just two minutes at Brunton Park and both he and team-mate Steven Pienaar appeared upset by some shouts from the crowd as they celebrated.

A tannoy announcement warned supporters against abusive language and Cumbria police put out a statement shortly afterwards to appeal for members of the crowd to report any incidents of racist behaviour they may have heard.

Mason made the decision to issue the announcement after consultation with Martinez and Carlisle boss Keith Curle, and the Spaniard was full of praise for the officials’ handling of events.

“I thought it was dealt with in a good manner,” he said after the match to BT Sport. “Straight away the Carlisle manager Keith Curle and myself, we agreed to make an announcement.

“I thought the referee dealt with that well. The worry was it would be a 90 minutes of abuse but it was just a reaction to a goal being celebrated.”

Curle insisted the club will identify those responsible and urged fans to come forward with any information, saying: “It’s not what we want inside our club, inside football or inside society.

“The club will make all the efforts – I know they’ve got stewards and CCTV. The football club will not stop to identify who it was.

“[It was the] ref’s decision to do the tannoy announcement, to highlight it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you heard anything please step forward and identify who was responsible.”

Further goals from Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley sealed a comfortable win for Everton and Martinez was delighted with the approach of his players against their League Two opposition.

“We knew that you can allow these games to be very complicated,” he said. “I thought we dealt with it with an incredible professionalism and a great effectiveness in front of goal. The start of the game allowed us to control the rest of it.

“It was a great footballing occasion. The fourth round of the FA Cup always brings excitement. I thought we played well and controlled the threat that Carlisle can bring. We scored three goals, created good chances and overall we deserved it and look forward to the draw [for the fifth round on Sunday].”

Martinez later confirmed to the media that Aiden McGeady is set to join a Championship club on loan.

“It seems very close,” he added. “We’ve agreed terms with two teams in the Championship. It’s just a matter of time before one of the deals is clinched.”

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Martinez commends referee after Kone suffers alleged racist abuse

Everton manager Roberto Martinez praised referee Lee Mason after striker Arouna Kone allegedly suffered racist abuse in the FA Cup fourth-round win over Carlisle United.

Kone put the visitors ahead after just two minutes at Brunton Park and both he and team-mate Steven Pienaar appeared upset by some shouts from the crowd as they celebrated.

A tannoy announcement warned supporters against abusive language and Cumbria police put out a statement shortly afterwards to appeal for members of the crowd to report any incidents of racist behaviour they may have heard.

Mason made the decision to issue the announcement after consultation with Martinez and Carlisle boss Keith Curle, and the Spaniard was full of praise for the officials’ handling of events.

“I thought it was dealt with in a good manner,” he said after the match to BT Sport. “Straight away the Carlisle manager Keith Curle and myself, we agreed to make an announcement.

“I thought the referee dealt with that well. The worry was it would be a 90 minutes of abuse but it was just a reaction to a goal being celebrated.”

Curle insisted the club will identify those responsible and urged fans to come forward with any information, saying: “It’s not what we want inside our club, inside football or inside society.

“The club will make all the efforts – I know they’ve got stewards and CCTV. The football club will not stop to identify who it was.

“[It was the] ref’s decision to do the tannoy announcement, to highlight it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you heard anything please step forward and identify who was responsible.”

Further goals from Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley sealed a comfortable win for Everton and Martinez was delighted with the approach of his players against their League Two opposition.

“We knew that you can allow these games to be very complicated,” he said. “I thought we dealt with it with an incredible professionalism and a great effectiveness in front of goal. The start of the game allowed us to control the rest of it.

“It was a great footballing occasion. The fourth round of the FA Cup always brings excitement. I thought we played well and controlled the threat that Carlisle can bring. We scored three goals, created good chances and overall we deserved it and look forward to the draw [for the fifth round on Sunday].”

Martinez later confirmed to the media that Aiden McGeady is set to join a Championship club on loan.

“It seems very close,” he added. “We’ve agreed terms with two teams in the Championship. It’s just a matter of time before one of the deals is clinched.”

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Carlisle United 0 Everton 3: Lennon inspires comfortable FA Cup win

Everton breezed into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory away to League Two side Carlisle United on Sunday.

Roberto Martinez opted to rest John Stones, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku, but his side never looked likely to suffer an upset against a team lying in mid-table in England’s fourth tier.

Aaron Lennon teed up Arouna Kone to open the scoring with just two minutes on the clock and the former Tottenham winger doubled the lead inside the first quarter of an hour.

Everton fans had contributed to the restoration of Brunton Park, which was hugely affected by the December storms in the UK, and they had plenty to enjoy about their journey north as Ross Barkley drilled in a deflected third after the break.

Carlisle had lost all three previous FA Cup ties with the Merseysiders and rarely looked likely to spring a shock, with Derek Asamoah coming closest to finding a way past Joel Robles in what proved to be a frustrating outing for the hosts, as Everton marched into round five for the fifth time in six seasons with a result that will go some way towards banishing memories of their League Cup semi-final heartbreak against Manchester City.

The home fans – who numbered more than 17,000 – were in fine voice as they welcomed Carlisle for their second game back on the relaid turf, but it took Everton just two minutes to strike the first blow.

Lennon burst into the box from the right and squared the ball across goal for Kone, who tapped home from close range.

Asamoah drew a strong stop from Robles with a half-volley at the near post but Lennon finished a fine team move to put the visitors in complete control with just 14 minutes played. 

Bryan Oviedo combined superbly with Barkley before picking out the England international, who took a touch past Michael Raynes and slotted through Mark Gillespie’s legs.

Carlisle created little to threaten Everton’s advantage before the break and Keith Curle made two changes at half-time in an effort to galvanise his side – Asamoah coming closest to grabbing a lifeline as he fired narrowly over following Hallam Hope’s long ball.

But Barkley ended any prospect of a shock comeback just past the hour mark. Striding into space on the edge of the area after Leon Osman’s pass, his firm strike glanced off the head of Mark Ellis before nestling high into the net past the wrong-footed Gillespie.

Carlisle pushed for a late consolation, with Robles saving low to deny Antony Sweeney, but Everton comfortably saw out the closing stages to book their place in Sunday’s fifth-round draw.

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Pellegrini prepared to make Iheanacho Champions League call

Manuel Pellegrini is prepared to add Kelechi Iheanacho to Manchester City’s Champions League squad and ranks the forward as one of the most talented youngsters he has coached.

Teams in the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition will have an opportunity to alter their 25-man squads for the knockout stages next week and Iheanacho, who missed the cut for City’s group-stage campaign, further pushed his case with an FA Cup hat-trick at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The 19-year-old has eight goals across all competitions in an increasingly impressive debut season and appears to be an obvious choice to bolster Pellegrini’s attacking options ahead of the tie against Dynamo Kiev, with Kevin De Bruyne (knee) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) definite absentees and fellow striker Wilfried Bony nursing a calf problem.

“It’s a decision we are going to take during this week before the set date that we can do it. But of course he pushed a lot,” Pellegrini said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.

“We need him because Bony is also injured so that is just one [fit] striker [Sergio Aguero]. We’ll see – not because of the three goals, but because we need another striker.

“We’ll see, we’ll talk it over with the doctor. Samir and Kevin will be out until the end of March. I will see during the week.”

Pellegrini went on to liken Iheanacho’s emergence to those of Javier Mascherano, Santi Cazorla and Isco, who he coached at River Plate, Villarreal and Malaga respectively during their formative years.

“We have a young player who is very important for our club,” he added. “I’ve had the opportunity to do it with Santi Cazorla, with Isco, with Mascherano – so I know we have a player that deserves space in the squad and I think that Kelechi can do it.

“But it’s just one game. I’m not impressed because he scored three goals, I’m very happy because he improves in every way that he works with the squad.”

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Chelsea 4/11 to win against MK Dons this afternoon in the FA Cup

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: Chelsea to win against MK Dons
Odds: 4/11 @ William Hill

Chelsea are enjoying much-improved form of late, and are big favourites to see past today’s opponents in the FA Cup as a result. The Blues travel to Stadium mk to face the MK Dons in the fourth round of the competition, and are confident of coming out on top to boost their chances of domestic success.

The Blues are enjoying a much better run of results under manager Guus Hiddink, and face MK Dons coming off the back of three wins and four draws in their last seven games. Chelsea beat Scunthorpe 2-0 in the previous round to make it this far, and they’re expected to repeat the feat given the gulf in class.

MK Dons are currently languishing in the bottom-half of the Championship, having lost three of their last five league games. The Dons’ home form has been more consistent, but with their overall form being so hot and cold, a Chelsea side with momentum and a superior squad should have no problems getting a result.

William Hill are giving odds of 4/11 for the Blues to see past the MK Dons this afternoon to book their place in the FA Cup fifth round.

Bet: Chelsea to win against MK Dons this afternoon in the FA Cup @ 4/11 with William Hill >>

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Everton 4/9 to win away to Carlisle United in this afternoon’s FA Cup clash

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Competition: FA Cup
Market: Everton to win against Carlisle
Odds: 4/9 @ William Hill

Everton travel to face Carlisle United in the FA Cup fourth round this afternoon, and are big favourites to dispatch of the League Two side. The Toffees are coming off the back of a Capital One Cup semi-final exit so manager Roberto Martinez will be desperate for a response.

Carlisle have been inconsistent in recent weeks, but will have been looking forward to today’s FA Cup clash for some time, so their performance will be typically full-blooded and energetic. They’ll be compact and hard to play against, allowing the opposition the lion’s share of possession.

Everton are expected to win at Brunton Park, but they may find the early stages difficult. The Toffees will have to be patient for an opening, but they certainly have the quality at their disposal to unlock any defence, and they’ll be desperate for another cup run to make up for their recent disappointment.

Carlisle are sure to make life difficult for Everton at times, but the gulf in class between the two sides should show by full time. Everton are being backed by William Hill with odds of 4/9 to see past United.

Bet: Everton to win away to Carlisle United in this afternoon’s FA Cup clash @ 4/9 with William Hill >>

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Rooney: Blame the players not the manager

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney believes the players should shoulder the responsibility for the club’s lacklustre campaign instead of manager Louis van Gaal.

Rooney, who has six goals in his last six games, has played a big part in helping United to an improved start to 2016, but he believes he and his teammates were equally culpable in a horror month between November and December, which saw United go winless for eight-straight games in all competitions.

“It’s unfair to say it’s [down to] the manager,” Rooney said.

“We’re on the pitch, so the players have to take a lot of responsibility for performances and results.

“We have to stand up and take criticism when it’s there. We want to win, of course — we always want to win — and we’re trying. Even when you’re giving 100 per cent, it doesn’t always come off.”

The England international said that the manager had played his role in the revival by allowing his players to loosen up on the park.

Van Gaal denied that he had explicitly told the players to abandon his much-discussed philosophy after a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Southampton – in which United managed just one shot on target – but Rooney said it was obvious that the players enjoyed their performance against Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round much more than their league encounter.

Rooney opened the scoring with a tremendous curling effort before Daley Blind and Juan Mata scored second-half goals to seal a 3-1 win.

“The manager gave us a lot of freedom to go and play and I think you can see the difference in the team,” he added.

“You can see we were enjoying it, scoring some good goals and thoroughly deserved to win so hopefully we can put in another performance like this against Stoke [City] on Tuesday.”

Sun 31 January, 2016
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Martial can be unplayable – Carrick

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick hailed team-mate Anthony Martial as “unplayable” after the Frenchman guided the side to the fifth round of the FA Cup. 

Martial set up goals for Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata as United defeated Derby County 3-1 in their fourth-round clash at the iPro Stadium on Friday, and Carrick was quick to laud the 20-year-old French forward. 

“Anthony was fantastic, but he has that ability,” he told The Mirror. “He’s shown that from day one since his debut against Liverpool, when he scored.

“We have to realise how good he is and can’t expect everything from him all the time. 

“But, when he’s in that kind of form, he’s pretty much unplayable, so it’s nice to have him playing for us.”

United were leading 2-1 late in the game before Martial assisted Mata for the goal that killed off the contest. 

“I’m always really impressed with him,” Mata said. 

“He does a lot of good things. He can beat opponents one against one, score goals or play it back to people like he did for me and our third goal.

“I really enjoy playing with him, doing one-twos and making chances. He has unbelievable potential. 

“He has to keep calm, which he is doing, and show that kind of form in every game.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Klopp takes positives from West Ham draw

Jurgen Klopp was pleased with how his experimental Liverpool team acquitted themselves in the 0-0 draw against West Ham in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet remained from the XI that needed penalties to battle past Stoke City in Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final, with a clutch of Liverpool youngsters given a chance to shine at Anfield.

Dimitri Payet struck the outside of the post after 10 minutes and Enner Valencia spurned another early chance for West Ham, but Klopp’s men soon found their feet as an accomplished display from 19-year-old midfielder Cameron Brannagan helped them to control much of the contest.

“The most important thing is that everybody could see our line-up was not disrespectful against the FA Cup, which I was asked before the game,” Klopp said at a post-match news conference. 

“It was really the other way around – we thought this was the best chance for us to go through. This young team did really well.

“They have not played too often together, of course, and they did well. We defended well and had a good structure in the game. We made chances and played bravely, that was really good.”

Steven Caulker made his first Liverpool start at centre-back and escaped a penalty claim for handball early in the second half, but the hosts were once again wasteful in front of goal.

Christian Benteke and Joao Teixeira were the main culprits as the hosts failed to score for a third match against West Ham this season and the third time in their past four Anfield outings.

“At the end, it’s a draw, with bigger chances for us I think,” Klopp added. “But it’s only one part of the game, we should have used them and scored in one or the other situation.

“That’s how it is. Now we play again.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Iheanacho: Hat-trick is a great day in my life

Kelechi Iheanacho believes his FA Cup hat-trick against Aston Villa in a 4-0 win that sealed Manchester City’s place in the fifth round is the starting point of his career.

The 19-year-old hooked in the opening goal of the game after just three minutes and doubled his tally by coolly rolling in a penalty after Raheem Sterling was pushed over in the box.

Iheanacho completed his first senior hat-trick by racing on to a loose backpass to slot home, with Sterling later adding a fourth goal. 

“I’m happy. I’m so glad to score a hat-trick and I’m delighted as well,” Iheanacho told Manchester City’s video channel.

“It’s a great day in my life, but it’s not the greatest day of my life. I need to keep working hard every day, every training [session] and every game.

“This is the starting point of my career, I need to keep going. 

“It is important to get an early goal. It’s good that we get an early start and the goals will start to come.”

There was initial confusion over who was going to take City’s penalty, with Sterling set to step up before defender Pablo Zabaleta intervened.

“The penalty was very good. I take my time, I take the penalty, so it was a very good penalty for me,” said Nigerian Iheanacho, who has hit eight goals in all competitions in his debut season.

“Raheem wanted to take it, but I think the manager said I should take it. 

“I’m so grateful for the fans as well, they helped us to win this game. Our thanks to them and everyone that came to support us in the game.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Liverpool 0 West Ham 0: Klopp´s youngsters unable to inspire Anfield win

Liverpool failed to beat West Ham for a third time this season as Jurgen Klopp’s much-changed side were held to a goalless draw at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Klopp’s concerns over fixture congestion for his League Cup finalists have been well documented but, as in the third-round tie against Exeter City, fielding a weakened XI against West Ham contributed towards an extra match being added to their busy schedule.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was the only player to remain from Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final triumph over Stoke City but Klopp’s youthful line-up were not short of fluency in their play – thanks largely to an impressive performance from Cameron Brannagan.

The 19-year-old midfielder showcased an accomplished range of passing and almost broke the deadlock with a stinging strike before the break, after Dimitri Payet speculatively struck the post for West Ham early in the contest.

Under-fire Liverpool striker Christian Benteke again displayed a lack of form and confidence after the break, with the Belgian and Joao Teixeira frustrated by Darren Randolph – the West Ham goalkeeper who started due to regular number one Adrian attending the birth of his first child.

Randolph’s heroics meant Liverpool were once again unable to find a way past Slaven Bilic’s team, who boast 3-0 and 2-0 Premier League wins over them this season ahead of the Upton Park replay.

Payet curled a free-kick against the outside of the far post from the right f
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lank in the 10th minute and Liverpool endured a further scare when Enner Valencia – fresh from his brace against Manchester City – misjudged a header from Aaron Creswell’s left-wing centre.

Benteke twice attacked Brannagan set plays and found Randolph plunging at his feet when he got on the end of Teixeira’s 25th-minute throughball.

Randolph excelled 10 minutes later, impressively tipping Brannagan’s fierce drive around the post, while Bilic was forced into a pair of first-half changes – centre-back James Tomkins making way for Joey O’Brien after clash of heads with Joe Allen before striker Nikica Jelavic replaced Cheikhou Kouyate.

Jelavic and Winston Reid were unable to force home another fine Payet set-piece delivery five minutes after half-time, when Liverpool centre-back Steven Caulker was a touch fortunate not to be punished for handball amid the penalty box scramble.

Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne was enjoying an enterprising second-half when he cut a pass across the box for Allen, who skied wastefully over.

Teixeira forced Randolph to push a powerful shot behind at his near post in the 63rd minute and Benteke horribly miskicked from close range as the hosts cranked up the pressure. Randolph was equal to Teixeira once more when Jordon Ibe coolly picked out his team-mate in the area.

The Republic of Ireland international then heightened Benteke’s woes with a sharp double stop in the 74th minute.

Caulker was forced into a last-ditch block to thwart West Ham substitute Michail Antonio three minutes from time, ensuring Klopp must rouse his troops once more in the replay.

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Pardew criticises Clattenburg´s Cabaye call

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew criticised referee Mark Clattenburg for failing to stop play following a heavy challenge by Stephen Ireland on Yohan Cabaye during a 1-0 FA Cup win against Stoke City.

Cabaye was felled by Ireland shortly before half-time in the fourth-round match at Selhurst Park on Saturday but Clattenburg elected to wave play on, with Xherdan Shaqiri going on to fire just over for the visitors.

The French midfielder was substituted at half-time and, while Pardew is hopeful the ankle injury is not too serious, the former Newcastle United boss thinks Clattenburg made an error.

“I thought Mark got that particular decision wrong, because he came in from the side on Yohan and his ankle is swollen,” Pardew told reporters.

“We’ll have to wait and see if there’s permanent damage. We couldn’t get treatment to him because the game went on.

“But it was a tough game to referee and there were two committed Premier League sides out there today.”

Wilfried Zaha scored Palace’s winner after 17 minutes, sending them into the fifth round, and Pardew was full of praise for the winger, who was a constant thorn in Stoke’s side on Saturday.

“We created problems elsewhere to give him the space to play well today and he got us a great goal,” he added. 

“Because the rest of the attacking players were all causing problems, it allowed Wilfred to have a bit more room.

“He and their defenders have had terrific battles and that shows you how well Wilf played – we can take that into Tuesday against AFC Bournemouth because it’s a big game.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Pulis believes Berahino will stay at West Brom

Tony Pulis believes Saido Berahino will remain at West Brom until the end of the season, praising the in-demand striker for “two great finishes” in a 2-2 draw with Peterborough United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Berahino put West Brom into the lead after 14 minutes at The Hawthorns with a swept 20-yard finish and struck again with six minutes to go after Shaquile Coulthirst’s equaliser, only for Jon Taylor to hit back immediately to earn a replay for the League One club.

The striker has been out of favour at West Brom this season, with Pulis having publicly criticised his mentality and fitness levels.

“It’s nice for [Berahino] to get 90 minutes under his belt because that was important today,” Pulis said. 

“He is a good finisher. He’s not as sharp, he’s not as fit as we’d want him to be, but he’s missed half the season and that’s going to be a problem for us.

“His goals are so, so important for us and he’s shown that again today.

“Everything that happens financially at the football club will be determined by the chairman, but personally I don’t think it will be [Berahino’s last game].”

Pulis accused his West Brom players of switching off twice after defensive errors cost his team victory, but praised Graham Westley’s lower-league outfit for their performance.

“Firstly you’ve got to give Peterborough a load of credit,” said Pulis. “They’ve come here and they’ve worked really hard and they’ve given it a great go.

“We’ve had the cup tie twice in our hands and we switched off twice.

“[Sebastien Pocognoli and Boaz Myhill] get caught for the first goal and the second goal is a poor goal for us, an angled ball, we don’t defend that on the left-hand side of the pitch that well and the lad takes it with aplomb.”

Pulis added that a rib injury sustained in training meant goalkeeper Ben Foster was not risked. 

“That was disappointing because we want to keep him playing but obviously the games now come thick and fast,” he said. 

“Whether he’ll be fit for Swansea, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Villa survival over reputation for Garde

Remi Garde insists his priority is rescuing Aston Villa’s season and not preserving his own reputation following Saturday’s 4-0 rout at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth round.

Former Lille coach Garde has overseen just two wins in all competitions since replacing Tim Sherwood as Villa boss in November and the club are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.

The Frenchman’s woes continued as City ran riot at Villa Park in the FA Cup, teenager Kelechi Iheanacho scoring a hat-trick before Raheem Sterling added further gloss in a routine victory.

But Garde insists he has no fears over his own reputation, saying: “How can I say it? I’m not working for myself. I’m working the best that I can for [a] football club in danger, in big difficulty, big trouble.

“My name [reputation] is not important for me. I’m not here to save my skin – I don’t know if you say that?

“I’m here to do my best. I’m sticking with my players, trying to do our best. I know it was not a comfortable position when I came in. I have no regrets and I will do my best until the end.”

Garde also reiterated his desire to bolster Villa’s ranks in the market before the end of the transfer window, which closes on Monday. 

“I recommended to sign players who would be helpful for us in the race to stay in the Premier League,” he added to BBC Sport. 

“If I can have some new faces and new bodies, it would be the best for everybody.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Hughes ponders reinforcements as Wilson suffers knee injury

Mark Hughes says he may be forced to make a late bid for a centre-back after Marc Wilson sustained a knee injury that could keep him out for 12 weeks.

The Republic of Ireland international suffered the suspected medial ligament damage in Stoke City’s 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday, which could hinder his chances of selection for Euro 2016.

“Marc looks like he’s got a bad knee injury,” Hughes told reporters after the match at Selhurst Park. “He’s got medial ligament damage, the physio thinks, so he’s going to be out for a period of 10 to 12 weeks, unfortunately.

“The injury might force our hand [in the transfer market] because we are bit threadbare with Ryan Shawcross injured, Geoff Cameron unavailable and Marc Muniesa only just coming back into the team.

“So we might have to do a short-term thing.”

Hughes will have to act quickly, with the transfer window set to close on Monday, but admits he is at a low ebb following two cup exits in the space of a week – Stoke having suffered League Cup semi-final heartbreak at Liverpool on Tuesday.

“We didn’t want to go out of two cup competitions,” he added. “We were a bit stretched today with a number of players unavailable. We had a number of players on the bench, but we didn’t want to risk the likes of Marc Muniesa and Peter Crouch who played 120 minutes in midweek.

“I thought Jakob Haugaard came in to good effect and he obviously had no chance with the goal.

“It was poor from our point of view. We didn’t really affect play on the edge of our box.

“We got a bit of momentum second half and I thought we were the better team first half.

“We chased the game somewhat and that played into Palace’s hands because they are very good on the counter-attack.

“They got people on the ball and looked to release [Wilfried] Zaha when they got the ball.

“We didn’t really have enough in the final third when we had opportunities.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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´That is why we let Dzeko and Jovetic go´ – Pellegrini hails Iheanacho hat-trick

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini says Kelechi Iheanacho’s hat-trick against Aston Villa proves the club were right to allow established stars Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic to leave.

The 19-year-old striker took full advantage of Sergio Aguero being rested to score three times in the FA Cup fourth-round tie at Villa Park on Saturday, with Raheem Sterling netting the other in an easy 4-0 win.

Dzeko and Jovetic joined Serie A sides Roma and Inter respectively at the start of the season and Pellegrini believes Iheanacho is showing that allowing the more experienced pair to go was the right decision.

“Kelechi is a very good young player,” the Chilean told BBC Sport.

“We let Jovetic and Dzeko go because I see Kelechi every day and know what he can do. I am very happy.

“We made some important changes because it is important to rotate with so many matches to play. Bacary Sagna played well at centre-back, he didn’t make any mistakes and [Willy] Caballero was solid in goal.”

Sterling wanted to take the penalty which put City two goals up, but it was Pellegrini who insisted on Iheanacho doing the honours from 12 yards.

The manager added: “I told Bacary Sagna to tell Kelechi to take the penalty. I see him take penalties every day, so he was in charge.”

The win means City, who are back in action at Sunderland in the Premier League on Tuesday, are still in contention to win all four major trophies they are competing for this season.

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Howe hails Bournemouth´s ´tremendous character´

Eddie Howe says the character of his Bournemouth players allowed them to overcome a Portsmouth team who “moved the ball well” in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

League Two side Portsmouth took the lead through Gary Roberts two minutes before the break but Bournemouth, who made 10 changes to their previous starting XI, hit back with Josh King’s equaliser in the 71st minute.

Marc Pugh then bundled home the winning goal with seven minutes remaining to ensure the visitors progressed to the next round courtesy of a 2-1 victory in the clash between two south coast clubs at Fratton Park.

And Howe was happy with the response from his Premier League team after they fell behind to Roberts’ well-taken strike.

“Credit to Portsmouth to how they moved the ball, but in the second half we got a grip on the game and came out on top,” Howe told BBC Sport.

“It was a local derby against a team in good form and we knew it would be tough but the players showed tremendous character to see it out.”

Portsmouth manager Paul Cook was proud with the effort of his players after they pushed the Premier League outfit all the way.

“The most important thing was both sets of fans going away saying what a great game it was, it being a south-coast derby,” Cook said.

“People sometimes think you’re not allowed to pass the ball in League Two. 

“We are a passing team, we want our young lads to come through playing the game in a right way, but we are very disappointed to go out.”

Sat 30 January, 2016
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West Brom 2 Peterborough United 2: Late equalisers seal replay for League One side

Peterborough United scored two late equalisers to earn an FA Cup fourth-round replay at London Road after dramatically drawing 2-2 at West Brom on Saturday.

Saido Berahino shrugged off speculation about his future by giving West Brom the lead with a brilliant strike after just 14 minutes at The Hawthorns, beating Jak Alnwick with a clipped shot from outside the penalty area.

The Premier League outfit had only won one of their last five matches in all competitions and Peterborough deservedly equalised through Shaquile Coulthirst with 11 minutes to go after some slack defending. 

Berahino put West Brom back in the lead with another fine strike on 84 minutes but substitute Jon Taylor hit back with a volley a minute later to set up a replay. 

West Brom had won their last 11 FA Cup home matches against lower league opposition but the Premier League outfit could not extend that run to 12 victories.

Tony Pulis handed a rare start to striker Berahino, who had a short loan spell at Peterborough in 2012, with Jonny Evans acting as captain due to Darren Fletcher’s knee injury.

James McClean created an opening for Lambert in the first minute, but the striker’s first touch let him down.

West Brom took the lead after 14 minutes, with Berahino on target. The striker had scored six goals and supplied four assists in his previous five FA Cup matches and added to that impressive record with a fine finish from Lambert’s pass after Craig Gardner had smartly won the ball in midfield.

Coulthirst went close to scoring an equaliser after 21 minutes, shooting narrowly wide after good work from diminutive playmaker Erhun Oztumer, before a speculative long-range effort from Sebastien Pocognoli flew well over the crossbar.

Alnwick then kept his side in the game on 34 minutes when Ricardo Santos gave the ball away and McClean pounced, but his shot was straight at the Peterborough goalkeeper.

Peterborough were continuing to threaten and Lee Angol shot narrowly wide just before half-time.

Lambert had a glorious chance to double the lead two minutes into the second term, but he scooped his shot into Alnwick’s arms from close range after Stephane Sessegnon opened the visitors up.

A burst ball then provided a chance for Graham Westley to show off his acting talent, the Peterborough manager dramatically falling to the ground as the ball popped.

Westley had made a double change at half-time with Taylor and Martin Samuelsen introduced for Lawrie Wilson and Harry Beautyman but his side, seeking to reach the fifth round for the first time since 1986, lacked cutting edge in the final third.

Gardner could have secured the result for West Brom but he shot well off target on 70 minutes after Berahino had combined with Salomon Rondon. 

Michael Smith and substitute Marcus Maddison both shot straight at Boaz Myhill as Peterborough threatened and the League One side deservedly forced an equaliser on 79 minutes.

A defensive mix-up let in Coulthirst and he made no mistake in front of the visiting supporters, but Berahino struck again with six minutes to go, smashing in another terrific finish to put his side back in front.

Peterborough equalised within a minute, Taylor sensationally volleying home from Santos’ pass to earn his team a replay at London Road.

Sat 30 January, 2016
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Crystal Palace 1 Stoke City 0: Zaha dumps Potters out of second cup in a week

Crystal Palace snapped out of a poor run of form to claim a 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, knocking Mark Hughes’ men out of a second cup competition in the space of a week.

Palace had won just one of their previous seven matches in all competitions – against Southampton in the last round.

But Wilfried Zaha sealed progression in the 17th minute with the first goal by a Palace player at Selhurst Park since December 12.

New signing Emmanuel Adebayor was left out of the matchday squad as he looks to build his fitness before making his debut, but Palace had more than enough about them to overcome a Stoke side sporting eight changes to the XI that suffered League Cup semi-final heartbreak at Liverpool on Tuesday.

Zaha’s goal was just reward for a strong start by the home side, who felt Stoke should have seen Marc Wilson sent off before the interval.

Stoke enjoyed a brief spell of pressure midway through the second period, but were unable to find a way through the Palace defence, leaving them to focus their attentions on achieving as high a finish as possible in the Premier League.

Palace started brightly and carved out the first opportunity when Lee Chung-yong – scorer of the late winner in a 2-1 Premier League victory at the Britannia Stadium in December – dribbled into a promising position only to drag his shot wide.

And it was the home side who opened the scoring, with Zaha dancing past two Stoke defenders before slotting beyond goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard.

Joselu represented Stoke’s best attacking threat in the first half, volleying narrowly over the crossbar in the 25th minute and heading a Xherdan Shaqiri cross just wide moments later.

Wilson was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card following a heavy challenge on Fraizer Campbell as the match approached the half-hour mark. And referee Mark Clattenburg drew further heckles from the stands by opting not to blow for a tackle on Yohan Cabaye, with Shaqiri eventually going on to fire just over.

As was the case for much of the first half, Palace were in control at the start of the second, and Joel Ward saw an effort bounce wide after trying his luck from distance, while Pape Souare forced Haugaard to tip over his crossbar from a Campbell strike.

Stoke raced to the other end of the pitch, where Wayne Hennessey denied Peter Odemwingie with his legs, and the combination of Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic started to poke holes in the Palace defence.

However, the pair were unable to cause Hennessey too many problems, and Zaha – in inspired form – came close to extending the lead he established with a shot across goal that snuck just wide, having almost teed up Scott Dann for a close-range finish moments earlier.

Sat 30 January, 2016
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