FA Cup

The FA Cup is Manchester United’s Holy Grail

It may not be the ultimate prize in English football, but for Manchester United, the FA Cup might just lead to bigger and brighter things in the next era of the club.

The Red Devils are the highest ranked team left in the prestigious cup competition, following the shock exits of Chelsea and Manchester City to Bradford City and Middlesbrough respectively.

It should lead to a relatively easy route to Wembley for United, who have so far bumped off League One Yeovil Town 2-0 at Huish Park and League Two Cambridge United 3-0 in an Old Trafford replay and will face a second League One side, Preston North End, in round five.

Darren Fletcher’s deadline day move to West Bromwich Albion made him the last member of the 2004 winning FA Cup squad to leave Carrington, meaning not one member of the current team has won an FA Cup while at Manchester United.

Absent: It is 11 years since Manchester United lifted the FA Cup

Absent: It is 11 years since Manchester United lifted the FA Cup

None of the current class have won a trophy at the club since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, with David Moyes enduring an awful solemn season at Old Trafford, finishing seventh, but Louis van Gaal has started the rebuilding process.

Unlike teams such as Arsenal and Liverpool, Manchester United have not struggled to attract the global stars during their decline with Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao being just four of the nine high profile arrivals since Ferguson’s farewell.

Although United are doing well in third, they seem out of the title race and were unceremoniously dumped out of the Capital One Cup 4-0 by Milton Keynes Dons as well as being out of continental competition due to last season’s lowly league standing.

Which means the FA Cup is the only competition they are fighting for this season, and fight they should do, as it could give the trophy-less dressing room the catalyst it needs to become a great again.

 

 

Everton 1 (Lukaku ’90) West Ham 1 (Collins ’56)

Romelu Lukaku’s strike in added time saved Everton’s FA Cup lives as they ended a four match losing streak.

It was a sweet moment for the Toffees who were on top for the majority of the match but found themselves behind 11 minutes into the second half when James Collins powerfully headed in Morgan Amalfitano’s corner.

Everton and West Ham will now need to play a reply to decipher who will face the victors of Doncaster Rovers and Bristol City, who also drew 1-1, in the next round.

It was a game of few chances in a night but the hosts were the better side with Ross Barkley playing in record signing Romelu Lukaku with 26 minutes played, but the big Belgian took one touch too many as he shot wide, off balance, from the edge of the penalty area.

They knocked on the door again a minute later, again with no reply, as Scot Steven Naismith fired a shot across the face of goal as a result of a neat chipped through ball by Lukaku.

West Ham created an early chance of their own when Stewart Downing had a long range shot tipped over the bar by Joel Robles, who continued in goal due to regular goalkeeper Tim Howard’s calf injury.

Everton finished proceedings with a late surge and, shortly before Lukaku’s dramatic equaliser, Barkley forced a smart stop from Spaniard Adrian with an effort from a tight angle.

The replay will be played on either Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

“There is no room to rotate”, insists Hammers boss Allardyce

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has revealed that there “won’t be too many changes” for their FA Cup clash at Everton tonight.

“It’s not possible to play the best team each game due to fatigue levels, but, we’ve had four or five days rest which has helped so we can play a strong team,”Allardyce insisted.

The Hammers will be without Cheikhou Koyate and Diafra Sakho (Senegal) as well as Alex Song (Cameroon) who have left for the African Cup of Nations, while, James Tomkins (ankle) faces a late fitness test.

“Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan will play a big part, Ricardo Vaz Te might get an opportunity and Matt Jarvis will get a few games soon.

“We will play the strongest team available”.

Alladyce’s side are performing above all expectations in the league so far, sitting in seventh, but, are currently winless in three.

A 1-1 draw at West Brom followed back-to-back defeats to London rivals Arsenal (2-1) and Chelsea (2-0).

Roberto Martinez’s men are in a similar slump, losing four on the trot, away at Hull (2-0), Newcastle (3-2), Stoke at home (1-0) and Southampton (3-0).

Martinez has rubbished claims that his job is on the line.

“The truth is I feel under the same pressure when we win and when we lose because I always look forward,” Martinez said.

“My vision is to create a team that can become a winning team. Losing games forces you to try and find solutions and to look inside in a different way than when you win.”

FA Cup First Round Draw

 

Mansfield Town vs Concord Rangers

Gosport Borough vs Colchester United

Yeovil Town vs Crawley

York City vs AFC Wimbledon

Walsall vs Shrewsbury

Notts County vs Accrington Stanley

Chorley or FC Halifax Town vs Bradford City

Warrington Town vs Exeter City

Eastleigh vs Alfreton or Lincoln City

Basingstoke or Harrow Borough vs Spennymoor Town or AFC Telford

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Tamworth or Southport

Weston Super Mare vs Doncaster Rovers

Peterborough vs Carlisle United

Cheltenham Town vs Swindon Town

Bromley vs Dartford

Weymouth or Braintree vs Chesterfield

Chelmsford City or Barnet vs Wycombe Wanderers

Gillingham vs Bristol City

Portsmouth vs Aldershot

Norton United or Shildon vs Gateshead

Crewe vs Sheffield United

Grimsby Town vs Oxford United

Tranmere vs Bristol Rovers

Southend United vs Chester FC

Luton Town vs Newport County

Stevenage vs Maidstone United

Bury vs Nuneaton or Hemel Hempstead

Cambridge United vs Fleetwood Town

Northampton Town vs Rochdale

Eastbourne Borough or Dover Athletic vs Morecambe

Port Vale vs MK Dons

Macclesfield or Wrexham vs Woking

Plymouth vs AFC Fylde

Barnsley vs Burton Albion

Hartlepool United vs East Thurrock United

Coventry City vs Worcester City

Oldham Athletic vs Leyton Orient

Canvey Island or Havant vs Preston North End

Blyth Spartans vs Altrincham

Forest Green Rovers vs Scunthorpe