After a weekend of multiple FA Cup upsets, The Soccer Sofa discusses whether managers at the best clubs in the country were right to field weakened XIs. Match of the Day and 5 live pundits spoke of their discontent that Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino among other were showing the competition ‘a lack of respect’ by fielding youngsters.
First off, I think most football fans would agree with me when I say that I do not look forward to a weekend of FA Cup action as much as a Premier League weekend or European midweek fixtures. It slots in just above a weekend of international friendlies.
The BBC know this and have been giving the FA Cup the biggest push in the last two seasons because they know with the money involved in football these days, that the Premier League and Champions League is where the interest lies. Sky and BT have live coverage of these competitions, and the prize money for doing well in these competitions is far more than progressing into the latter rounds of the FA Cups.
Gary Lineker said on MOTD that Klopp lacked knowledge and respect of English sides. Perhaps, or would he rather close the gap to Chelsea with a win on Tuesday?
The BBC’s lack of money is making their pundits leave the viewer with a sour taste in the mouth. Ian Wright said on 5 live that if he could add any winners’ medal to his collection it would be the FA Cup. Absolute rubbish. Give a player the choice between a Wembley final win against a struggling team like Aston Villa or Crystal Palace (the previous two losing finalists) or a night of European glory against a Bayern Munich or a Barcelona and I think we’d all be in agreement which they’d choose.
What a weekend for the underdog it was. Non-league Lincoln City and Sutton United beat Championship high-flyers, Brighton and Leeds, respectively. Wolves toppled Liverpool at Anfield, Millwall stole victory from struggling Watford, Oxford thumped Newcastle and Fulham smashed Hull.
This is exactly what the FA Cup is all about. If the BBC had their way and every side was at full strength, we would see monotonous one-sided ties and viewers losing interest.
Mauricio Pochettino could have easily come under the same criticism as Klopp this week and was extremely lucky that a last gasp Son goal saw off Wycombe. The Chairboys would be right to feel hard done by after being 3-2 up in the 88th minute.
Although Klopp and Pochettino were forced into some changes, they still decided to rest players and because of this, neutrals were treated to some great games filled with this FA Cup ‘magic’ we keep hearing about on the BBC.
Finding the right balance
Southampton 0 – 5 Arsenal Chelsea 4 – 0 Brentford
Man United 4 – 0 Wigan Crystal Palace 0 – 3 Man City
The squad depth of United and City definitely showed this weekend, neither should be outside the Premier League’s top four. Arsene Wenger showed his experience in starting the right amount of first-teamers, whilst incorporating Walcott and Welbeck who had recovered from their injuries in time. The whole Chelsea squad must feel in such unison at the moment that whoever Conté puts on the field, he must have confidence in.
Compare this to Liverpool, who just had Firmino starting from what is arguably their strongest XI. Spurs only had one also in Son Heung-min, and had to rely on Dele Alli emerging from the bench to change the game.
It’s a baffling contrast if you were to compare the results of the strongest six sides in the country.
Finding a balance between blooding youngsters and fielding experienced pros who will ensure victory is difficult, but these top managers have to find a way to. If not they will be subject to the same criticism as Jurgen Klopp has this past week.