The upsets and the underdogs make the third round shine
And to think, people had openly stated that the FA Cup had lost its magic.
Few eyebrows were raised as the balls were pulled out of the hat in last month’s draw, but from Tyneside to Turf Moor, Kidderminster to Boreham Wood via Oakwell, the 2021/22 edition of the FA Cup third round proved to be memorable – and it’s not done yet!
This dramatic day marked every point an FA Cup traditionalist could wish for.
A plethora of homemade cardboard trophies, wrapped in tinfoil, on the terraces before kick-off? Check. Archetypal cups full of accidents, great goals, goals in the final? Check. A low-league opposition mowing down the giants of the Premier League? check. An absolutely ridiculous nine-goal thriller? Um, check it out. You name it, this round of games made it.
The only downside was that this thrilling third round on Saturday had to end – after all, all good things are done. But with Cambridge United, Kidderminster Harriers, Boreham Wood, Hartlepool and many more until the fourth round, this may just be an FA Cup campaign to remember.
Newcastle are in desperate need of a replacement for the injured Wilson
The afternoon kicked off with Newcastle fans welcoming new signing Kieran Trippier for his debut. It ended with fans trudging away from St James’ Park after a bad upset, well aware that their club is in dire need of many more signings this January if they are to stay in the Premier League.
A first FA Cup campaign under their new owners ended at the first hurdle at the hands of League One Cambridge – and there will be more disappointments in the league if they don’t address their glaring weaknesses during this transfer window.
Again, their losing defense was all too easily opened, with Joe Ironside putting the finishing touches to an unlikely victory.
But the underdogs also had other chances, with Jack Lankester seeing a strike out for offside and Harvey Knibbs unlucky for not receiving a penalty when he fell under a challenge in Matt Ritchie’s first half.
However, Newcastle’s lack of cutting edge on the other side was also shown here. Without Callum Wilson, there was no target for their crosses into the box and no focus for their attacks.
Newcastle have failed to win 18 of the 20 Premier League games they have lost since joining the club and his calf injury – which could keep him out for a couple of months – definitely puts a center forward on top of the club. Eddie Howe’s shopping list.
Trippier seems like a smart addition, but Newcastle need to make more money if they are to avoid days like this in the future …
Exciting talent Olise inspires Palace’s return
Last weekend, he scored and assisted against West Ham in the Premier League. This weekend, he scored and assisted against Millwall in the FA Cup. While his brace against the Hammers was in vain, his impact at The Den turned round three into the FA Cup against Crystal Palace.
All four of Michael Olise’s goals came similarly, with the 20-year-old delivering real quality with his stronger left foot from the right channel. As with the best wings of the past, knowing what’s coming is one thing; stopping it is another.
And Olise’s rise seems unstoppable right now. He lit up the league last season with Reading and Palace’s £ 8m deal to take him to South London already looks like a coup.
He qualifies for France, Algeria, England and Nigeria on the international stage and you can imagine that all four nations will be eager to have him available in the future if he continues on that trajectory. The next steps in his exciting rise will be fascinating to watch in the second half of the campaign …
Ziyech the answer to James’ riddle for Tuchel?
One of the key tasks a senior manager faces in his job is solving problems when injuries or loss of form affect a team’s overall output. Thomas Tuchel must show his problem-solving skills at Chelsea with influential full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell, both of whom are nursing injury problems of varying severity. James’s torn hamstring could see him out of action for up to two months, while Chilwell’s knee surgery means he’s done for the season.
Similar substitutions possessing the same all-round game as those two players are scarce on the pitch for Tuchel, so he had to be flexible in moving away from his trusty 5-3-2 that led Chelsea to such riches in his 12 months in load.
Against Tottenham midweek and Chesterfield on Saturday, Tuchel managed to squeeze Hakim Ziyech into the flexible right-back role. With the ball, Chelsea are more of a 4-2-3-1 with Ziyech pushing as a right winger, but are equally adaptable to returning to 5-3-2 off the ball with Ziyech falling to support the right center back.
This was on display against Spurs, where Ziyech fielded a man on the pitch who showed himself to be fulfilling his defensive duties in a disciplined manner. He was given another chance to show his talent in that position against the National League Chesterfield and although the level of opposition meant he wasn’t overly challenged in returning to his goal, it was another promising performance. . It was his cross shot that led to Timo Werner’s first goal, setting Chelsea on the road to a 5-1 victory, and the Moroccan completed the scoring from the spot himself.
His tendency to cut right and find teammates with his left median is a weapon that has yet to be used consistently since his arrival from Ajax. However, in this role, where they have three forwards to look for, Chelsea appear to have more creative strength. The teams will have to find a way to stop it.
Palmer ready for big success
When you have talents like Phil Foden and Cole Palmer moving from the youth squad to the first squad, perhaps it explains why Pep Guardiola rarely gets too mad not to sign players to strengthen his attacking line.
Playing on the right of City’s attack that once again lacked a true center forward, the 19-year-old made a performance beyond his years in what could have been a tough environment at the County Ground. He was the most inexperienced City player on the pitch, but he turned into a man of the match.
Palmer’s influential first act came in the 14th minute when he passed his marker and served a tap-in for Bernardo Silva. Always positive and shrewd with his play, Palmer was a constant outlet and showed his eye for scoring in the second half with two screeching shots that just missed the crossbar. His time would come, however, when he unleashed a ferocious effort into the far corner for the 4-1.
“We hope he liked it,” Palmer told ITV when asked what Pep Guardiola would have done with his performance.
“I just have to keep working hard. I have to go ahead and try to get more minutes and help the team.”
Make no mistake, Palmer looks ready for a run on the City side. With Riyad Mahrez away to Algeria, Guardiola appears to have a similar replacement to include. Would a start against Chelsea next Saturday be too early? Guardiola has this decision to make.