Barnsley does it again! Beats Chelsea! Bye bye Avram…Man Utd gone as well.

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You know it was meant to be when a guy (Kyote Odejayi) who hasn’t scored in several months, heads home the lone goal by outleaping Carlo Cudicini in the 66th minute. Did anyone else enjoy Cudicini’s 360 degree flail after he realized Odejayi was going to beat him to the ball? Perfect ten.

Barnsley still had to withstand a haphazard Chelsea offense for the last 30 minutes, but it was easy to see that the Blues weren’t up to the challenge. They played like amateurs. Not one person stood out, unless you count disgusting tackles as standing out (Ricardo Carvalho in the last couple minutes).

Both giants were slaughtered today – Manchester United and Chelsea are gone. A ten-men United gone after losing to Portsmouth 1-0 earlier today. Sulley Muntari converted the penalty after Tomasz Kuszczak was sent off for a trip up in the penalty box. Portsmouth and Middlesbrough remain of the EPL clubs and it’s safe to say who the favorites are…

Barnsley (okay, Portsmouth, but still…). They played way above their standards today and Chelsea were forced to play down to them, their tactics, their pace. Brian Howard had another great game and is really making a name for himself. Was this an example of a team not being able to adjust from a smooth technical game to a scrappy heap of raw soccer? Can you really tell me that Joe Cole and Michael Essien really can’t adjust to that!!?

Anyways, that game made my day. Share your thoughts below.

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FA Cup: Barnsley shocks Liverpool, 2-1

Between captain Brian Howard and debut goalkeeper Luke Steele, I don’t know who had the better performance.

Actually I do, Howard might have provided the near post drive that sunk Liverpool in the 93rd minute but it was Steele who kept the Reds – somehow – from hitting the back of the net. Crouch had numerous opportunities, Kewell hit the crossbar, the action on Barnsley’s defensive end NEVER stopped coming. All it took was one mounted attack, a little footwork, and agility (although where the hell were the Liverpool defenders) and a crack to the near post – which Charles Itandje – who looked lost – neglected to cover.

Either way, Barnsley is through after Liverpool squandered a 1-0 lead. I’ll put up the highlights once I can find them…the question is, what now happens with Rafa Benitez? Is patience wearing thin – because that was a lot of booing I heard at the end of that game.

FA Cup Round 5 Draw: ManYoo gets the Gunners; Round 4 Review

FA CUP FIFTH ROUND DRAW (to be played Feb 16/17)

Bristol Rovers vs. Southampton
Cardiff vs. Wolverhampton
Sheffield United vs. Middlesbrough
Liverpool vs. Barnsley
Manchester United vs. Arsenal
Preston North End vs. Portsmouth
Coventry vs. West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea vs. Huddersfield

Clearly the big match-up here is Manchester United drawing Arsenal in a battle that looks stacked in United’s favor. This is as long as Ronaldo is firing on all cylinders when Feb 16 and 17th rolls around. Regardless, if he underperforms – it isn’t bad to have Rooney and Tevez on the same squad.

ROUND 4 ROUND-UP

Saturday, January 26th

Arsenal 3, Newcastle 0

Kevin Keegan got an in-depth look at Newcastle’s play, only making his roster turnover increasingly imminent. Emmanuel Adebayor had his way with the piecemeal Newcastle defense, while his in-squad enemy Nicklas Bendtner sat on the bench waiting for his go. Adebayor’s 18th and 19th goals of the season didn’t come until late, speaking well for the umm…resilience? of a Newcastle squad that most likely will see a more youthful approach in the upcoming fixtures. Even Nicky Butt couldn’t get things right, putting one in his own net with time running out.

Liverpool 5, Havant and Waterlooville 2

Minnows Havant and W. fulfilled a dream by going twice up on sharks Liverpool. Not too bad. Liverpool eventually calmed down, however, as Yossi Benayoun made up for blowing a close range chance early to come back with a hat-trick (his second of the year). Slovakian signee Martin Skrtel got his second start and didn’t look up to Vidic-class, but he’s yet to settle. Young Brazilian Lucas Leiva got his first goal for the Reds, while Peter Crouch ended the madness scoring the fifth and final goal.

Chelsea 2, Wigan 1

Nicolas Anelka put a masterful finishing touch on his first Chelsea goal, pulling a ball out of the sky and volleying it past a sprawling Chris Kirkland. He then set-up Shaun Wright-Phillips for the second Chelsea goal that eventually proved to be the game-winner. It really is good to see this guy at a top club again as it has been one hell of rollercoaster career for him. Antoine Sibierski made it interesting with a swerving shot with about 5 minutes to go, but Chelski withstood the challenge.  

Middlesbrough 2, Mansfield 0

Dong-Gook Lee kept Mansfield at bay with an early 17th-minute goal. The underdogs really looked poised to be the under-performing squad who was without their playmaker Sanli Tuncay.

Wolves 4, Watford 1

Jay DeMerit’s Watford couldn’t get back on track as they were picked apart by a merciless Wolves squad led by the two goals of young Irish striker Andy Keogh. DeMerit went the full 90 as the Hornets bowed out of FA Cup competition.

Portsmouth 2, Plymouth 1

New signing Lassana Diarra showed his worth right away, putting Pompey up in the 34th minute and equalizing after an early 5th minute Chris Clark goal for Plymouth. Niko Kranjcar provided the gamewinner. Pompey was missing the work ethic of Diop and Muntari badly as Plymouth looked the fitter squad at times.

Preston North End 4, Derby 1

Talk about beating someone while they’re down. Preston did just that, regardless of the announcement that Derby has been taken over by American investors. Maybe these investors will demand Benny Feilhaber plays. Karl Hawley led the charge for PNE, while Robert Earnshaw grabbed the consolation goal for the Rams (his first in a billion years). It’s early but the new signings aren’t helping…

Coventry 2, Millwall 1

Millwall missed Zak Whitbread and Maltese ManYoo killer Michael Mifsud (say that five times fast) worked his magic again. This time at Millwall’s expense. Mifsud provided the winner early in the second half. It was his 16th of the season.

West Bromwich Albion 3, Peterborough 0

Goals from Roman Bednar, Robert Koren, and Kevin Phillips secured an easy win over P-boro.  The Eastern Europeans are working out well for W.B.A. as Bednar is Czech and Koren is Slovenian.

Southampton 2, Bury 0

So’ton destroyed Bury. No real contest and many didn’t expect otherwise. Goals from rising star Andrew Surman and Grzegorz Rasiak did Bury in and ensured Southampton’s faithful that they could survive without coach George Burley, who just took over the Scotland position.

Huddersfield 1, Oldham 0

Luke Beckett secured a 5th round tie for Huddersfield, despite getting beat around by a rather efficient Oldham set-up. But it was Beckett’s finishing that provided the win.

Bristol Rovers 1, Barnet 0

Bristol took their seat as lowest seed to advance despite beating Fulham in the third round. The Rovers are in the fifth round for the first time in 9 years thanks to Richard Lambert’s goal in the 49th minute. The real help came from Barnet’s Jason Puncheon who missed a penalty kick just 5 minutes before.  

Sunday, January 27th 

Sheffield United 2, Manchester City 1

Young Jamaican Luton Shelton took advantage of Michael Ball’s mishap (in his defense, those blue and white balloons really get in the way) to fire United in front of City. Neither Elano nor Petrov could  jumpstart City’s offense against the Blades. They had to wait until prospect Daniel Sturridge came on in the 46th for an equalizer to be scored. Yet another defensive mishap, however, and a favorable deflection, led to Jon Stead’s finish and the 2-1 win for the Blades. Sucky day for City as many believed they had a shot at it all…Sheffield United will take on yet another EPL squad in the next round – Middlesbrough – but there’s a good chance Boro could be without their rock in the back, Jonathan Woodgate.

Manchester United 3, Tottenham 1

ManYoo didn’t disappoint in setting their fifth round tie with the Gunners. In fact, they showed they were clear favorites dispatching a ‘hot’ Spur club. It wasn’t all glitz and glamour for the Red Devils, especially when Robbie Keane is on the pitch. Keane fired the first goal home in the 24th minute and Carlos Tevez’s equalizer was more luck than craftsmanship. The real turning point wasn’t until the 69th minute when Michael Dawson was sent off for a blatant hand ball in the box, setting up Cristiano Ronaldo for his 24th goal of the year. His 25th came with time running out after an individual effort from 20 yards out trickled through Radek Cerny’s wickets.

Cardiff 2, Hereford 1

No surprises here, although Cardiff were obliged to make things tougher for themselves letting Hereford dictate the course of play. City’s finishing was with them, however, as Hereford couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn until it was too late. Cardiff had already tucked away two before Theo Robinson’s consolation goal in the 77th minute. 

EPL Daily 1.23: EJ to England, Cousin to follow? but Fulham knocked out the FA Cup

EJ TO ENGLAND: Eddie Johnson has signed for Fulham to join an ailing strike force of Shefki Kuqi, David Healy, and Diomansy Kamara. Johnson joins as part of new coach Roy Hodgson’s turnover of the Cottagers as they sit in a dead heat for a relegation battle. Defensive reinforcements have already been brought in in the form of Norwegian Brede Hangeland and creative Danish midfielder Leon Andreasen. There are talks taking place with unsettled Glasgow Rangers’ striker Daniel Cousin as well. The deal is for 3 1/2 years.

BERBATOV: Dimitar Berbatov’s wrestling with Tottenham quieted down a bit after the Hotspur’s trouncing of a young Arsenal side in the Carling Cup semifinals.

BIANCHI: Rolando Bianchi – Manchester City’s . His time with City started strong and fizzled recently. Bianchi admitted he 1. hates England 2. hates English football and 3. wants back to Italy. Well to Italy he goes – on loan to Lazio.

MCFADDEN: The wantaway Everton striker has completed his move to Birmingham as the Blues became rather keen on him after his recent form. The Scotsman moved for $10 million. Birmingham has done well this transfer window – bringing in young Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate on loan and keen to bring in Guglielmo Stendardo in on loan from Lazio.

FA CUP ROUND 3 REPLAYS:

Bristol Rovers 0, Fulham 0 (Bristol R. wins 5-3 on penalties)

Roy Hodgson played a rested squad in their replay with Bristol Rovers. Dempsey and Bocanegra went all 120 minutes in a losing cause, one that many expected Hodgson to lay in to his players for. Instead, he defended them and placed the blame on himself, but the truth is, they’re still looking for a win in Hodgson’s reign. Jimmy Bullard played the bad man, missing the PK that allowed Bristol to move ahead.

Derby County 1, Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Derby wins on penalties 4-2)

A Kenny Miller saved the Rams from embarrassment putting their only shot on goal in the back of the net. The match went to overtime and Derby played like the underdog most of the way, throwing hard tackles left and right. Eddie Lewis came in for an ineffective Giles Barnes (rare) and wreaked havoc for a solid 80 minutes on the left side. Deadlocked through overtime, it came down to penalties and Derby didn’t disappoint. Sheffield Wednesday missed their first two, while Eddie Lewis and Kenny Miller converted theirs making it somewhat of a no-contest.

Barnet 0, Swindon 0 (Barnet wins 2-0 on penalties)

In the ugliest display of penalty taking I have seen in a long time, Barnet came out on top. Billy Paynter had probably the most up and down, roller coaster day of his career. First, he scored in the 42nd minute to put Swindon Town up 1-0. Ten minutes later, however, he was hiding in a corner after he put one in the back of his own net. Then to end on a definitive note, Paynter botched his PK attempt as all Swindon Town penalty takers went on to miss their respective attempts.

CARLING CUP SEMIFINALS:

Chelsea 1, Everton 0 (3-1 on aggregate)

Chelsea booked a place in the final as Joe Cole drove the proverbial nail in Everton’s coffin snuffing out in the process a spirited effort from the Toffees. Everton fought with tough tackling and relied on a couple players returning from injury to test the Chelsea defense. Andy Johnson was scrappy as usual, while Manuel Fernandes returned for what seems to be his 40th stint with the club. Either way, Chelsea is through to the final against Tottenham.

Tottenham 5, Arsenal 1 (6-2 on aggregate)

Odd game – but Tottenham pulled apart a shaky Arsenal defense consisting of no one particularly guilty of inconsistent play. The backs were captained by Bakary Sagna and William Gallas, while young goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski got the start in goal. Other surprising names included Justin Hoyte, Denilson, Armand Traore. These youngsters aren’t exactly scared of the spotlight, but no one could cope – not even Gallas and Sagna – with the quality of Jermaine Jenas, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Keane, Berbatov, and a nasty shot from Frenchmen Steed Malbranque. Wenger put on the studs too late – with Adebayor, Eduardo coming in later in the game (Adebayor eventually bagged the lone Gunner goal) and Cesc Fabregas in right after Wenger got a whiff of trouble – the 20 minute mark. Tottenham got the result they deserved in this instance, as last week in the first leg – they came out with a 1-1 draw after firmly holding the upper hand. On top of that, as seen above, a Carling Cup final might be what the Spurs need to keep Dimitar Berbatov around. Best Arsenal moment of the night was probably the friendly fire – Bendtner vs. Adebayor (it’s off in the distance, watch for it). Investigation to follow.

FA Cup Replays: Havant and Waterwho?-ville

Two big upsets and an EPL squad gone.

Havant and Waterlooville – a Non-League squad of part-timers – stormed out to a 3-0 lead over League One and heavy-favorites Swansea. Jason Scotland was part of the mini-comeback for Swansea as they replied with two, but it was Leon Britton’s 42nd minute penalty-miss that set the tone for the game and had Havant and Waterlooville thinking victory. The game was sealed in the 65th minute and a date with one of the biggest clubs in English football was confirmed. Havant and W. vs. Liverpool – January 26th.

Hereford – League Two – turned in a convincing upset of the League One Tranmere Rovers. A late 72nd minute goal from Simon Johnson helped Hereford grab its first spot in the FA Cup’s Fourth Round in 16 years.

Newcastle had everything set up for either dramatic failure or resurgence. A replay against a stiffly-defensive Stoke. A new boss in Kevin Keegan – one who had some success at the Toon in the 1990’s. A rough crowd not ready to be plunged deeper into the underperformance curse. And lastly, a 29th minute red card for Turkish international Emre. Didn’t matter though – Michael Owen scored himself a goal in the 8th minute and Cacapa calmed the worried crowd after Emre’s ejection with a quick goal as well. It’s Keegan’s third time at Newcastle, but you could tell his philosophy for the Stoke game was simply, “go out and play”. James Milner and Damien Duff added the two clinchers to make it 4-1. With St. James Park ecstatic at the refreshed (too soon?) Magpies, the only thing that could make this resurgence much better is the return of Alan Shearer to be Keegan’s (his former manager) right-hand man. Newcastle is going to need all the help it can get as Arsenal is next up in the FA Cup 4th Round.

Manchester City owes Elano quite a bit this year. Regardless of whether or not he’s at full tilt, the Brazilian playmaker seems to influence games by sheer presence. A goal with 20 minutes to go was the decider and even crazier yet – the former Shakhtar man found the net with his head. Another former Shakhtar player had a less agreeable day, however. Loan-signee Nery Castillo dislocated his shoulder about 30 minutes in and will miss up to a month or so before he steps back on the field. No Jonathan Spector, dressed but didn’t play.

Fourth Round Draw (Jan 26/27)

Arsenal v Newcastle
Coventry v Millwall
Oldham v Huddersfield Town
Swindon/Barnet v Fulham/Bristol Rovers
Wigan v Chelsea
Liverpool v Havant & Waterlooville
Southend v Barnsley
Southampton v Bury
Man Utd v Tottenham
Portsmouth v Plymouth
Derby/Sheff Wed v Preston
Watford v Wolves
Peterborough v West Brom
Sheff Utd v Man City
Mansfield v Middlesbrough
Hereford v Cardiff

EPL Daily 1.16: Capello to be probed?, Diarra finds a home, and Avram Grant makes his second signing (plus FA Cup replay round-ups!)

FABIO CAPELLO: The new coach of the Three Lions has had to assure people that he will not be joining Joey Barton behinds bars due to tax issues. The claims of a full-scale investigation into Capello’s tax history are coming out of Italy and regarding his time as manager of AS Roma and Juventus. Capello assures his tax affairs are in order.

LASSANA DIARRA: 22-years old and he’s already been to two world-class clubs. In order to get proper playing time, Diarra has now moved on – in a reported $10 million move – to Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. Kind of seems Diarra’s request for more playing time will come with much competition still as Pompey’s midfield is pretty damn good. Niko Kranjcar, Papa Bouba Diop, and Sully Ali Muntari man the middle – he’s got a chance to Redknapp he deserves it though as both Diop and Muntari are at the African Nation’s Cup.

BIG TRANSFERS: Lyon’s Fred looks to be on his way to White Hart Lane to play for the Hotspur; former Chelsea midfielder Maniche got picked up on loan by Inter Milan;  in some sort of a transfer coup 20-year old Argentinian starlet Mauro Zarate – playing with Al-Sadd in Qatar – could be on his way to rescue Birmingham from the Blues; Chelsea have joined in on the Eastern European fun, by signing their own version of Man Utd success story Nemanja Vidic – this central defender, Branko Ivanovic of Lokomotiv Moscow, is also a Serb, already with a work permit, and worth about $20 million. We’ll see if THAT pans out.

FA Cup Round 3 Replays

Bury 2, Norwich 1

The League Two side sparkled against Championship side Norwich. Dion Dublin found the net for the green and yellow, but it was purely consolation. Bury had already ‘buried’ two – Ben Futcher in the 18th and Andy Bishop in the 61st. A whopping 67% scoring percentage.

Tottenham 1, Reading 0

Robbie Keane the hero – again – although it’s been Berbatov’s name on the scoring charts as of late. Tottenham’s newest signing Chris Gunter got the start and did well, while Bobby Convey played all 90 minutes for the Royals making life difficult for Chimbonda on the right. Hahnemann was given the night off along with some other key players and the Royals still were dangerous, but it was the Hotspur who converted their chances and all it took was one.

Millwall 2, Walsall 1
Zak Whitbread’s squad went on and won with out the American back.

Liverpool 5, Luton Town 0

The first half Reds were silent, but once half-time broke, it was all class. Ryan Babel started things off right. Steven Gerrard then promptly stole the show, unleashing his inner frustrations on the Luton Town defense, scoring three over the course of the second half. Only Sami Hyypia could take the spotlight off of Gerrard for more than a minute when he hit home in the 57th minute, confirming the rout was on. Jamie Carragher played in his 500th game for the Reds.

West Brom 2, Charlton 2 (W.B.A. wins 4-3 in penalties)

The Baggies recovered, after giving up a two goal lead, and won 4-3 in penalties. Darren Ambrose and Chris Dickson led the come back charge for Charlton, only to see their FA Cup hopes dashed after Zheng Zhi’s spot-kick was saved by W.B.A.’s Dean Kiely.

Today’s Games
Havant and Waterlooville vs. Swansea
Tranmere vs. Hereford
Newcastle vs. Stoke (save face Magpies, save face)
Manchester City vs. West Ham United

EPL Daily 1.7: EPL Clubs Fall, Alves to Citeh?, Drogba to AC Milan?, and more…

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON: Calls for David Beckham’s 100th cap. And apparently Sven is now after another Brazilian. This time it is Heereveen’s goalscorer Afonso Alves who reported could cost around $30 million. Alves would be a good candidate to replace and improve upon the wantaway Italian Rolando Bianchi as Alves hit for 35 goals in 321 appearances last year with Michael Bradley’s Eredivisie squad.

BEN TOZER: Newcastle won the race for the 17 year old Swindon Town defender. Tozer is nowhere near the class of a Gareth Bale but has shown remarkable promise as of late, finding a first-team spot with League One squad Swindon.

DIDER DROGBA: Could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge – recently being linked to a switch for AC Milan and possible reunion with Jose Mourinho.

MANCHESTER UNITED: The Red Devils are expected to trump Arsenal in their claims of being the richest squad in the EPL. ManYoo is set to announce a whopping $490 million turnover. This might actually do something to quell the anti-Glazer sentiment that has ‘glazed’ United’s faithful. Here’s more.

FA CUP: A host of 3rd Round games saw 6 Premiership bite the dust with another 8 being to held to replays. Major losses – Everton (everytime I talk them up, they come crashing down), Blackburn, Bolton, and Birmingham. Big replay: Luton vs. Liverpool. Dempsey’s Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers. Replays will take place on January 15th and 16th, 2008. Your fourth round match-ups look like this if you’re curious. Click below for quick match recaps…

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