Rumours are afoot of Real Madrid chasing Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino this transfer window. And two weeks after Real were dumped out of the Copa Del Rey by minnows Leganes, Poch did his best on Saturday to prove himself capable of fitting in at Madrid by failing to knock Newport Town out of the FA Cup, a club whose squad includes a serial biter, a man who was working in Tesco until last year and a centre-back who quite literally has a heart made out of pig skin.
At least Pochettino seemed disappointed with the result, a contrast to West Ham manager David Moyes’ somewhat dismissive attitude to his own team’s tie with Wigan Athletic. “They’d have rather stayed in the Premier League than win the FA Cup”, Moyes said of Wigan’s shock 2013 FA Cup win, in a typically downbeat pre-match interview. A lacklustre Hammers performance followed, which saw Will Grigg (yes, that one) net twice to eliminate the Irons. West Ham fans can now look forward to the glory of securing seventeenth place, free from the dreaded possibility of winning their first major trophy since 1980 – an outcome that left David Moyes supressing giggles of delight in his post-match interview, the freezing cockles of his miserable heart nicely warmed by intentional failure.
seen here winning an FA Cup tie
David Moyes by Jason Gulledge is licensed by CC 2.0
Fans across the social media landscape declared their disgust of Athur Masuaku’s spitting towards a Wigan player– almost as many as the number of supporters expressing their revolted reactions to VAR throughout the game of the weekend’s thriller between Liverpool and West Brom, where Liverpool somehow contrived to both lose to West Brom and make the Baggies appear an entertaining football team, even with the help of the Video Assistant Referee.
In a 3-2 West Brom win, VAR helped the referee both disallow a West Brom goal due to offside, and award a hitherto unseen penalty against Jake Livermore for pulling down Mohammed Salah. Livermore reacted to the penalty decision with the deluded indignity of a disgruntled employee slagging off his manager when caught leaving work early on CCTV. Roberto Firmino went on to miss the spot-kick and Liverpool duly found themselves knocked out of the cup. They might have stood a better chance had they been drawn against Manchester City.
The most notable incident in City’s routine 2-0 victory over Cardiff was would-be hatchet man Joe Bennett’s attempt to chop down Leroy Sane in first half injury-time, prompting Germany’s official twitter account to plead with The Bluebirds to stop trying to break everyone’s legs and perhaps attempt some football of their own:
A pointless plea perhaps, given Cardiff manager Neil Warnock’s pre-game innuendo talk of the Championship side’s eagerness to dish out a “a few challenges”. The Germans’ love of slick passing paired with tactical innovation was however, no match for Warnock’s British enthusiasm of booting superior players as hard as humanly possible, and Bennett earned himself an injury time red card for a mistimed challenge on Brahim Diaz.
Earlier in the afternoon, Chelsea had dispatched Newcastle United 3-0, while remaining very much in third gear. Much-maligned Michy Batshuyai helped himself to a brace, drawing level with Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette on total goals this season. Those Andy Carroll rumours from last week now seem more like the product of a fever dream than a genuine transfer opportunity.
Without doubt the biggest actual transfer move this window was Alexis Sanchez’s move up north to Manchester. Sanchez helped kick-off the fourth round fixtures on Friday evening on his United debut – and a frustrating first-half saw him jeered with “what a waste of money” chants from cheerfully abusive Yeovil Town fans. Sanchez went on to win the man of the match award from a (extremely) reluctant Martin Keown, as Mourinho’s men ran out 4-0 winners. Alexis had not only prevented a giant-killing, but stuffed the League 2 fans’ words right back down their Bovril-lined throats as he collected a win bonus to top off a £600,000 weekly wage. Ah, the magic of the cup.
You can watch Sanchez take on Tottenham on Wednesday evening live at Topgolf, as well as all the other televised Premier League games this week. Check out what else we’re showing this week here, including the Six Nations.