Generation Next is our regular feature on Just Football profiling the best young talents in the world. And here’s another to keep an eye on – Atalanta’s bustling midfielder Franck Kessie… Last summer, when Genoa former coach Gian Piero Gasperini made the move to Atalanta, after seven wonderful years spent in Liguria (interjected by spells […]
There will be plenty of words written and said about whether the FA Cup still retains its trademark magic – especially after Cardiff City played Fulham in front of sparse crowd of just over 5,000 people.
But despite some low crowds and weakened teams, there was plenty to enjoy about the FA Cup’s 3rd round weekend. What caught our eye in the smorgasbord of games?
Rooney equals Charlton’s record
It was going to happen eventually, and Wayne Rooney finally equaled Bobby Charlton’s Manchester United goalscoring record. A miss-hit off his knee against Championship side Reading is probably not the 249th goal he would have dreamed of, but as any striker would say: a goal is a goal. Rooney will be hoping his inevitable record breaking goal comes in more auspicious circumstances.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 8, 2017
Olivier Giroud saves Arsenal (again)
Arsene Wenger has never lost in the FA Cup 3rd round, but he came perilously close against Preston North End at Deepdale. When the draw was made it looked like an easy tie for Arsenal against the Championship club, but the reality was very different.
Simon Grayson’s team went in 1-0 up at half time, having made Wenger’s team look very ordinary. In the second half, the Premier League team finally showed their class, and the Frenchman Olivier Giroud popped up with a vital last minute goal, just as he did against Bournemouth on Tuesday in the 3-3 draw. He has been scoring vital goals lately. Perhaps he is thriving without the pressure of having to be Arsenal’s main source of goals.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 8, 2017
Were there any giantkillings?
The FA Cup’s storied reputation is based largely on famous giantkillings. It feels as though they happen less frequently than they used to, and in some years they don’t seem to happen at all. This year, we didn’t get many. Championship Wolves knocked out Premier League opposition in the shape of Stoke City, while Millwall of League One beat a much-changed Bournemouth team.
Do they count as true shocks, though? Lincoln City of the National League were the closest to an old-school shock, just four minutes away from beating Championship side Ipswich Town, before Tom Lawrence saved a replay. Based on that performance, there’s every chance they could cause a real upset.
In the modern FA Cup, giant-equalling has become the new giant killing. Joining Lincoln were Plymouth Argyle who defended their way to a 0-0 draw at Anfield against a weakened Liverpool, while Bolton Wanderers ruined Sam Allardyce’s homecoming with another goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
National League Sutton United got a creditable draw against AFC Wimbledon in a replay of the reformed Dons’ first ever game, while the lowest ranked side left in the competition, Stourbridge, were unlucky to go down to an Ade Akinfenwa winner against Wycombe.
What was on TV?
BBC and BT Sport outdid themselves by talking almost nonstop about the “magic of the cup” before proceeding to show us games involving Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
The managers, players and fans of the likes of Sutton United, Barrow and Stourbridge would have been rightly wondering where the television cameras were. Surely any of the games involving the minnows is more exciting than Manchester City waltzing past a disinterested West Ham?
Fans of those two clubs will get to see their sides go head-to-head on television again on the 1st of February – but when will fans of Stourbridge have that chance again?
Wolves‘ Helder Costa scored a cracker against Stoke, and the celebration wasn’t bad either (about 25 seconds into this video).
Odhion Ighalo’s lack of goals this season have somewhat hamstrung Watford. But Watford’s win over Burton Albion suggests they might have a ready made replacement waiting in the wings. Jerome Sinclair signed in the summer from Liverpool, but the young striker has been peripheral so far. A wonderful solo goal in the cup, though, suggests he has the ability to make an impact for the Hornets (his goal is 33 seconds into the below video).
FA Cup 3rd Round results
West Ham United 0-5 Manchester City
Manchester United 4-0 Reading
Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 Stourbridge
Wigan Athletic 2-0 Nottingham Forest
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Derby County
Watford 2-0 Burton Albion
Sutton United 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Sunderland 0-0 Burnley
Stoke City 0-2 Wolves
Rotherham 2-3 Oxford United
QPR 1-2 Blackburn Rovers
Norwich City 2-2 Southampton
Millwall 3-0 Bournemouth
Ipswich Town 2-2 Lincoln City
Hull City 2-0 Swansea City
Huddersfield Town 4-0 Port Vale
Everton 1-2 Leicester City
Bristol City 0-0 Fleetwood Town
Brighton 2-0 MK Dons
Brentford 5-1 Eastleigh
Bolton 0-0 Crystal Palace
Blackpool 0-0 Barnsley
Birmingham City 1-1 Newcastle United
Barrow 0-2 Rochdale
Accrington Stanley 2-1 Luton Town
Preston North End 1-2 Arsenal
Cardiff 1-2 Fulham
Liverpool 0-0 Plymouth Argyle
Middlesbrough 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Chelsea 4-1 Peterborough
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa
The FA Cup 4th Round Draw 2016/17
Tottenham vs. Wycombe
Derby County vs. Leicester City
Oxford United vs. Newcastle United/Birmingham City
AFC Wimbledon/Sutton United vs. Leeds United
Plymouth/Liverpool vs. Wolves
Southampton/Norwich City vs. Arsenal
Lincoln/Ipswich vs. Brighton
Chelsea vs. Brentford
Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic
Millwall vs. Watford
Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town
Burnley/Sunderland vs. Fleetwood/Bristol City
Blackburn vs. Barnsley/Blackpool
Fulham vs. Hull City
Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley
Crystal Palace/Bolton vs. Manchester City
Something tells us Wycombe are happy with the draw…
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) January 9, 2017
What were your favourite moments of the FA Cup 3rd round? What tie from the fourth round caught your eye? Who’s name is on the cup? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @JustFootball and Facebook for more football news, features and analysis.