Tag Archives: FA Cup

Three vital contests as Chelsea look to complete double

Chelsea and Arsenal have not met in an FA Cup final since 2002. The Gunners were victorious that day, with each club having enjoyed numerous Wembley successes since. Didier Drogba has dominated this fixture in the 2000s, but the Ivorian is now no more than a nightmare for Arsenal.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are Premier League champions and are shooting for a double on Saturday. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain a club on the cusp of turmoil. Stan Kroenke is a man criticised frequently, Arsene Wenger’s future is unknown and key players are yet to sign on the dotted line.

With defenders missing and off the back of an underwhelming campaign, Arsenal are underdogs. Strong underdogs at that, too, with Wenger a man splitting opinion. Everything can change under the arch, and Arsenal have a good recent record at Wembley, but Chelsea are a fearsome unit led by a manager a driven as anyone in the game.

The man-to-man duels could decide this encounter. We don’t want controversy, we don’t want it to be decided on a foolish red card, we want a classic final showdown. These three matchups will be crucial if that is to happen…

Arsenal’s Summer Hangs In The Balance Ahead Of FA Cup Final

Arsenal enter tomorrow’s FA Cup final in a bit of a mess, as it’s not clear what Gunners side we’re set to witness at the start of next season.

Whilst it’s more than likely Arsene Wenger will extend his contract, the general consensus from the fans is that it’s not what they want and the wealth of uncertainty hovers above North London this summer- with Wenger, key players and the board potentially set for exits.

The Gunners endured a sub-par Premier League campaign, finishing outside of the top-four for the first time in over two decades, and were on the receiving end of a drubbing from Bayern Munich in the Champions League- losing 10-2 on aggregate.

Tomorrow’s FA Cup final won’t heal those wounds but winning the trophy is a crucial step for Arsenal’s rejuvenation, whereas defeat could make their difficult task this summer all the more daunting.

Should Arsenal win tomorrow, they can consider the campaign as partly successful and the fact they’re winning honours will help them keep the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the club, as well as helping lure big-names in from elsewhere.

If they were to lose, as many expect, then it could be the final straw for players like Alexis and Ozil, as well as giving the Gunners a battle in their quest to lure potential targets to the Emirates Stadium. Crucially though, it would set-up a poisonous atmosphere around North London.

Failure to win tomorrow would be the latest frustration for Arsenal fans with Arsene Wenger and it would be difficult to spin any sort of positive out of the campaign to justify handing the long-serving Frenchman a fresh deal- so Arsenal are drawing a huge target on their back.

Lift the FA Cup and Wenger maybe, just maybe, be able to save some grace and have some support from the fanbase or, equally, it may allow him to walk away with his head held high after securing yet more success to cap off his fantastic tenure in charge of the Gunners.

Without FA Cup victory and a top-four finish, it would be extremely difficult for Arsenal to justify handing Arsene Wenger a contract extension and the club would be a time bomb, which would be set off at any stage next season when the Gunners endure a blip in form.

Arsenal’s backs are against the walls as they face a huge test to compete with the financial might of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City and, in truth, it’s going to take the Gunners a long time to ever be considered the favourites for Premier League glory once again.

The glory years of Arsenal are a long way gone and any chance of salvaging a decent future in the coming years hangs in the balance ahead of tomorrow’s clash, as the Gunners will find it extremely difficult to keep key players and attract big names without being able to boast a trophy in their locker.

All The Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the FA Cup Quarter-Final tie between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.


Thibaut Courtois – 7

The Belgian came up with a crucial stop in the second period, denying what would have been Manchester United’s equaliser through Marcus Rashford’s left-footed strike at goal.

César Azpilicueta – 6

Impressive at the back, less so going forward.

David Luiz – 7

Luiz was able to boss the circulation of possession, even throughout United’s sharpest spells.

Gary Cahill – 6

Noted as the weak link in Chelsea’s backline, exemplified by the rare surrender of possession in sight of United’s pressing traps, but such pressure was eventually eased on the ex-Bolton Wanderers man.

Victor Moses – 6.5

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic winger got up and down the flank well, despite it being crowded by a defensive-looking United line-up.

N’Golo Kanté – 8

The man of the match, N’Golo Kanté proved to be the decisive difference between the two FA Cup hopefuls with his goal from range.

Nemanja Matic – 6.5

Positive and tidy in possession, which boded well for Chelsea’s game plan in the second half.

Marcos Alonso – 6.5

Another to put in a decent performance, as his influence on proceedings grew in the second half.

Willian – 7

Sharp, direct and unlucky not to have earned himself a goal and assist along the way.

Eden Hazard – 8

Along with Kanté, Eden Hazard was as expressive as ever in the final third, escaping the aggressive press-traps from Man United and inflicting lasting damage.

Diego Costa – 5.5

This wasn’t the Diego Costa we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent times, taking the bait when embroiling himself in physical battles with Marcos Rojo and missing a couple of dead-cert goals on another day.


Cesc Fabregas – 6

Accentuated Chelsea’s dominance after coming on in the second half.

Kurt Zouma – N/A

Michy Batshuayi – N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea – 7.5

The Spaniard was the main reason why Manchester United kept Chelsea away from the lead in the first half, as the Blues dominated proceedings following Ander Herrera’s red card.

Antonio Valencia – 5

Plenty of fouls coming from a man who was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance. Antonio Valencia was a poorer player, as a result.

Phil Jones – 6

The Englishman was fairly sound at pressing higher up the pitch in the early stages, but Eden Hazard and co. soon had his number, as he succumbed to mistimed tackles.

Chris Smalling – 6

Few complaints hang over the centre back’s head as far as the result is concerned, but as a captain, and United boss José Mourinho also joins him in this equation, Chris Smalling perhaps could have done more to prevent his teammates from losing their cool in battle.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Rash and aggressive, Marcos Rojo was another to tread on a fine line with regards to his discipline.

Matteo Darmian – 5.5

Mirroring Phil Jones’ duties in pressing a little higher up the pitch, almost like a fourth centre back, Darmian also collected his fair share of failed attempts.

Ander Herrera – 5

Man United fans may bemoan Michael Oliver’s decision to red card the midfielder in the first half, especially after such a positive impact in the early exchanges, but the visitors should also be disappointed in Herrera’s foolish actions just seconds after the referee’s general warning.

Paul Pogba – 5

Little inspiration came from the French playmaker, in particular after being paired up with Marouane Fellaini.

Ashley Young – 4.5

Totally retracted, whereas Chelsea’s preference to attack down their own left-hand side saw Young come into the picture at a sporadic rate.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Appeared fairly lively in and around the box, but the Armenian star was the one to be hooked early in response to Herrera’s red card.

Marcus Rashford – 5.5

Kept Chelsea on their toes, but the striker will be disappointed to have not finished a very good chance he managed to fashion for himself in the second period.


Marouane Fellaini – 4.5

The Belgian never got into the game, much to United’s detriment.

Jesse Lingard – N/A

Player Ratings: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal – Rotated Arsenal Midfield Excels

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for Arsenal’s 5-0 victory away to Southampton in Saturday night’s fourth round tie of the FA Cup:


Harry Lewis – 5

A little helpless up against Arsenal’s attacking force, but the young goalkeeper won’t be satisfied with himself after a portion of the goals he conceded.

Cuco Martina – 5.5

Produced a quality opportunity for Shane Long to pull a goal back for Southampton, but, moreover, struggled with the inspired Danny Welbeck on the night.

Florian Gardos – 5

Back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the defender had his work cut out against the pace and creativity of Welbeck, Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott.

Jack Stephens – 5

Much like Gardos, Stephens always looked second best against Arsenal’s on-song attack.

Sam McQueen – 5.5

Sam McQueen was another who struggled greatly with the pace of the Gunners’ attacking transitions, with Walcott and Hector Bellerin both marauding down his flank.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – 6

Perhaps Southampton’s best on the night, despite struggling to place his stamp on the game, but the former Bayern Munich hotshot did threaten Arsenal’s goal on occasions.

Harrison Reed – 5

The Southampton academy graduate was totally dominated and ineffectual versus his midfield counterparts.

Jordy Clasie – 5

Along with Reed, the ex-Feyenoord star looked dwarfed versus a newly-constructed Arsenal midfield, which will stand as a great disappointment to Claude Puel’s side given the vast first-team experience the 25-year-old has to his name.

Josh Sims – 6

The 19-year-old was in and around a handful of Southampton attacking phases, but lacked a bit of finesse when called upon.

Lloyd Isgrove – 5

The wide man looked lively in pressing and causing the Arsenal defence into decisions, but didn’t see enough of the ball to make a noteworthy impact.

Shane Long – 5.5

Feeding off scraps, Long was reduced to just one half-chance versus David Ospina, which was dealt with by the Colombia international.


Dusan Tadic – 5

The Saints turned to one of their key performers to salvage something from the game in the 64th minute, but the tide was too much for the Serbian to overcome.

Nathan Redmond – 5

Another who Puel had hoped for inspiration, as his side sunk to a 5-0 defeat.


David Ospina – 5.5

The erratic goalkeeper offered a few scares and miscalculations, but with a clean sheet to his name, it’s one to brush off for the moment.

Hector Bellerin – 6

The Spaniard wasn’t short of opportunities to lay down the marker on the flanks, but lacked that final pass on the night.

Shkodran Mustafi – 7

The leader in the heart of defence, Mustafi dealt with much of the defensive confusion which, at times, threatened to blemish a standout performance by the collective.

Rob Holding – 6.5

Covering for Laurent Koscielny, Holding did well against Long and co. throughout the game.

Kieran Gibbs – 6

Solid, but unspectacular stuff from the Arsenal full back, considering the Gunners’ dominance.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8.5

Often deployed on the flanks, Wenger trusted the young prospect in the defensive midfield position this time around and his versatility didn’t disappoint, eating up possession alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 9

A lot has been made of Chamberlain’s potential transition into the centre of midfield over the years, and versus his ex-club the Englishman was given the chance to showcase his capabilities. Arsenal fans will now be keen to see more of the explosive star after a man of the match performance.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 7.5

Another future prospect thrown into the XI by Wenger, excelling in and around the Southampton area with his playmaking prowess.

Theo Walcott – 8

In the correct place at the right time, as Walcott walked away from his old home with a hat-trick.

Danny Welbeck – 8.5

In his first start of the season, Welbeck took much of the plaudits with a breath-taking first-half performance, topped with two goals and an assist, before making way for Alexis Sanchez in the second period.

Lucas Perez – 7.5

The Spaniard looked typically impressive in combination with Arsenal’s attacking components, with only a goal for the striker evading his great showing.


Alexis Sanchez – 7

Came into the game hungry and landed himself two assists in the process, after little more than 25 minutes on the pitch.

Alex Iwobi – N/A

Klopp Out? Liverpool Fans React To Consecutive Cup Exits On Twitter

Given the geopolitical spectrum, 2017 promises to be a difficult year for us all to stomach, even by 2016’s standards, but Liverpool fans will be the ones gazing at the skies questioning why they are among the first to be feeling the burn.

Jürgen Klopp’s men enchanted the Premier League world with the German’s infamous ‘Gegenpressing’, imported from his days at Borussia Dortmund, as big results over the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City saw the Merseyside club propel themselves into the hat of potential league winners this season.

Among the charge at the upper echelons of the league table, Liverpool were also fighting for multiple domestic honours too, but that scenario has now changed drastically.

Welcoming Wolverhampton Wanderers to Anfield for a fourth round tie of the FA Cup this Saturday, the visitors were on hand to stun the hosts with goals by Richard Stearman and Andi Weimann, whereas a late Divock Origi goal wasn’t enough to see Liverpool into a draw and subsequent cup replay.

The defeat not only concluded the Reds’ elimination from the FA Cup, but also sees them fall out of a consecutive cup competition, after Southampton’s 2-0 win on aggregate in the EFL Cup in midweek.

Liverpool’s 2017 woes go on, having lost once more versus Swansea City in the league, drawing a further three games and winning just once in seven matches since the turn of the year. That game was a 1-0 victory away to Plymouth Argyle in an FA Cup replay. Glamourous.

As a consequence, social media was awash with criticism for the Scouse outfit’s boss, Klopp, ranging from rival fans to former subscribers of the German’s managerial capabilities, whereas others stayed true to their man.

Other more popular figures within Britain’s footballing hub maligned Klopp’s squad selection for the clash versus Wolves, which saw the 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga champion make a total of nine changes to the team that faced Southampton in midweek.

Despite bearing the blame for chopping and changing too much on this occasion, Klopp has felt the force of complaints coming in the opposite direction in recent days, claiming he overworks his first team too much.

The frenetic, self-proclaimed “Heavy Metal football” has been pinned against the German’s management, suggesting he’s both one-dimensional and culpable for the physical mismanagement of his players’ fitness, meanwhile the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Mamadou Sakho aren’t placed into the same equation anywhere near as much as they should be by Klopp.

With first-placed Chelsea waiting in the wings for Tuesday’s main card in the Premier League, calling on rotation made sense, but Klopp has, nonetheless, claimed full responsibility for Saturday’s additional slip-up in Liverpool’s season.

“We put in a very bad performance, we started badly and could not improve,” Klopp told BT Sport following the 2-1 defeat at home to Wolves.

“We tried, but were not good enough in the first half. The second half was better, but not enough. I am responsible, not the young players. You learn a lot about players in games like this, but I am responsible.”

Onto Tuesday night…

Tipster: Betting Advice From @OliPriceBates For This Weekend’s (March 11-13) Fixtures

With plenty of games to be played from Friday to Sunday, one of our betting advisors, @OliPriceBates takes a look at where the value lies in the latest batch of fixtures across the globe.

After our first full week of betting, we are boasting an impressive 30.2% ROI on @FreshFootball. Be sure to follow us on Twitter as not all our tips are posted on the website. After recent success in The Americas, I’m going to start with one game from the Argentina Primera and one from Liga MX.

Tip 1 – Racing Club vs. Lanus BTTS @ 2.0 – 1.5pt stake (Friday 11th – Kick Off: 23:15)
Top of Zone B, Lanus have started the season extremely well. The odds on BTTS are high because of the visitors defensive record so far this season, conceding just three in their first six games. A closer look at the stats though will tell you that they conceded two in a 2-2 draw in their last away game in the Primera. Racing Club have a traditionally strong record at home and I think they’ll at least get on the scoresheet. Their most recent game finished 6-3, although that was away from home. Their last home game was a 1-0 win over Boca Juniors, but Boca have been consistently tight defensively.

Tip 2 – Treble: Wigan DNB, Burton DNB & Swindon vs. Milwall BTTS @ 3.11 – 1pt stake (Saturday 12th)
Although Fleetwood beat Coventry in their last visit, their away form has been terrible this season. Burton on the other hand have been flying and will want another win to maintain top spot in the division. Like Burton, Wigan are fighting for automatic promotion whilst they travel to Colchester, a team that sit rock bottom and are all but relegated. Swindon and Milwall are two of the highest scoring teams in the division, BTTS looks a good bet. If one/two of the three tipped draw, you’ll still be in profit.

Tip 3 – Everton vs. Chelsea BTTS & Fulham vs. Bristol City BTTS @ 2.58 – 1pt stake (Saturday 12th)
Everton at home are always good to watch in terms of goals. Leaking them at one end, but scoring for fun – they host a Chelsea side likely to be tired from their midweek endeavours against Paris Saint-Germain. Fulham have scored 55 goals but conceded 61 in their 36 league games, whilst the improved Bristol City have scored in 5 of their last 6 away games. This relegation battle clash in likely to see goals, with both teams needing three points.

Tip 4 – Reading to beat Crystal Palace and BTTS @ 7.0 – 0.5pt stake (Friday 11th)

Tip 5 – Reading DNB, Northampton DNB @ 3.31 – 1pt stake (Friday 11th & Saturday 12th)

Tip 6 – Northampton vs. Cambridge – Northampton to win @ 1.9 – 1.5pt stake (Saturday 12th)

Tip 7 – Cruz Azul goals over 1.5 vs. Puebla @ 1.72 – 1.5pt stake (Sunday 12th)


We have tipped the following.

Tip 1 – £7.50 @ 2.0 – £15
Tip 2 – £5 @ 3.11 – £13
Tip 3 – £5 @ 2.58
Tip 4 – £2.50 @ 7.0
Tip 5 – £5 @ 3.31
Tip 6 – £7.50 @ 1.9
Tip 7 – £7.50 @ 1.72

Total staked: £40
Loss: £12

DC = Double Chance | DNB = Draw No Bet | BTTS = Both Teams To Score

Note: We use 1pt as £5, but you can scale this up or down depending on your budget. If you used £5 as 1pt in week one of our tips, you will have made over £70 profit.

Make sure you’re following @FreshFootball on Twitter to ensure you see all our tips as we will be posting more throughout the weekend, including some in-play bets.

‘Stupid & Embarrassing’: Fans Slate United Midfielder After Red Card

Angel Di Maria hasn’t had the best of times at Manchester United following his British record transfer fee move last summer but things went from bad to worse last night.

In the 64th minute against Arsenal, Angel Di Maria dived and received a yellow card. In his anger at a supposedly unjustified booking, the Argentine ace grabbed the shirt of referee Michael Oliver and was given his marching orders.

Twitter didn’t have much sympathy for the former Real Madrid ace, who is now absent for United’s key clash with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this weekend.

‘Worth Every Penny’: Fans React To Arsenal Star Knocking United Out Of FA Cup

Arsenal fans are happy today after overcoming their Old Trafford hoodoos to beat Manchester United on their soil for the first time in nine years.

Nacho Monreal and Wayne Rooney scored, whilst Angel Di Maria was sent off, but the main talking point of the game was the match winner- with Danny Welbeck scoring against his former side, as Louis Van Gaal kicked him out of the club last summer.

Arsenal paid £16m for the England international and many believe the fee was worth it for the moment last night alone…

Fans Fume At FA Cup TV Rescheduling

Arsenal fans have been left furious by the news that their mammoth FA Cup Quarter-Final tie with Manchester United has been moved to Monday 9th March and a 7:45pm kick-off.

The news means that fans travelling to Old Trafford from London will miss the last train back to the capital, which leaves Manchester before the game finishes. In a shocking move from the Football Association and the BBC, fans are understandably furious.

The channel and the governing bodies could have chosen matches between Liverpool and Blackburn or Aston Villa and West Brom for the game, two local derbies, but they decided to screw with the away fans.

Twitter Debates Wayne Rooney Penalty: Did He Dive?

There were plenty of contentious decisions during Manchester United’s 3-1 FA Cup victory over Preston North End at Deepdale last night- but none have caused a debate like the penalty in the closing stages.

With the match delicately poised 2-1 in United’s favour, captain Wayne Rooney surged forward and threw himself to ground for what seemed to be a stonewall penalty. However, replays showed their was no contact and Rooney had, in fact, dived.

A debate then followed, with Martin Keown adding fuel to the fire by saying it was a dive but was also somehow a definitely penalty, as Twitter users had their say on the game’s talking point.

Sunderland Fans Furious With Manager After FA Cup Humiliation

Sunderland fans have begun a gloomy week after their FA Cup adventure was cut short abruptly by League One side Bradford City, who claimed their second Premier League scalp.

Despite the fact the minnows had kept just two clean sheets at home all season, Bradford cruised with relative ease to a 2-0 victory and put their names in the hat for the quarter finals, leaving them just one game away from a Wembley semi-final.

Already infuriated by the performance, Sunderland fans were left furious with Poyet’s post-match comments where he blamed everyone but himself, just days after stating from here on it was only down to him.

Will he be the next Premier League manager to be axed from his position?

Arsenal Fans Praise Striker’s Match-Winning Performance

Arsenal fans were treated to a terrific performance from striker Olivier Giroud yesterday, as the Frenchman scored both goals in a 2-0 FA Cup victory against Middlesbrough at the Emirates.

Giroud’s first goal was a brilliant team effort, which resulted in every player on the field touching the ball before the Frenchman fired home the opener. His second, however, was sheer magic as he executed a magnificent volley from a corner to double the lead.

That left Giroud with seven goals and four assists in 11 FA Cup matches and put the Gunners into the quarter-finals, which means they are now just one game away from returning to the stadium where they ended their nine-year trophy drought in May.

Fans Look Ahead To FA Cup Draw

Twitter fans today have been discussing tonight’s FA Cup Quarter-Final draw, which sees just three ‘big’ clubs left in the mix.


Tonight’s draw takes place ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Deepdale against Preston, where we could see another upset- which would leave just defending champions Arsenal and Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool as the recognised bigger clubs left in the competition.

After claiming another Premier League scalp, Bradford City will be eagerly awaiting their fate- along with Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, West Brom and Reading.

It’s an anxious wait for the clubs involved, as they are now just one game away from a showcase semi-final at Wembley.

Twitter Hounds Robbie Savage During FA Cup Clash

Sunday afternoon saw football fans treated to another FA Cup spectacle as Arsenal defeated Brighton 3-2 at the Amex Stadium, in a game full of goals and excitement. However, one bloke managed to ruin it for everyone. Step forward Robbie Savage.

The former Derby County (legend?) spent most of the game screaming at a variety of things- be it someone not fouling the opposition, not clearing it or, my personal favourite, because he failed to comprehend that Championship footballers aren’t as good as those in the top-flight playing Champions League football.

If you missed the game and thought I’m being a bit harsh, you’d be wrong. It was comparable to listening to a wailing cat, nails on a chalkboard and Justin Bieber’s latest album simultaneously- and I have evidence to back it up.

Here’s the population of Twitter wishing that Robbie Savage the commentator wasn’t a thing.

Twitter Reacts To Manchester City FA Cup Exit

If you thought the FA Cup had lost it’s excitement, you were in for a treat today. One of the games that grabbed the attention was Middlesbrough’s sensational 2-0 victory against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Boro were clinical and shocked the Premier League title contenders, and the Twitter world, making a memorable moment for football fans worldwide. On top of this, the Tweets were exceptional, as you would expect.

There was references to Arab money, a previous 8-1 defeat to Boro in history and just general ‘oh my God’ reactions. We’ve got some of the best ones here- long may the magic of the cup continue.

Fans React To Shock Chelsea FA Cup Defeat

The FA Cup unleashed it’s magic today with some astonishing results, with one particular one catching the eye. Step forward League One outfit Bradford City, who defeated Premier League leaders Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.

Remarkably, Chelsea were even 2-0 up in the game before the Yorkshire side achieved one of the most remarkable results in the recent history of the FA Cup. Naturally, Twitter was a place to enjoy- although Chelsea fans started to disappear for a few hours.

There were jokes (lots of them), angry fans, overjoyed rivals and a tweet surfacing from three years ago that bit one Chelsea fan in the bum- although we do have to question why someone was looking at another users Twitter archive from three years back.

Still, the league leaders and Champions League hopefuls are out at the Fourth Round- and Bradford City are in the hat for the next stage of the competition.

‘Buzzing’: Liverpool Fans React To FA Cup Third Round Draw

The FA Cup third round draw took place today with many Premier League teams hoping for a friendly draw in order to progress. Liverpool were among those waiting to see who they would draw they got and fans will surely be happy with the news that they drew AFC Wimbledon.

Liverpool have made a bit of a habit of making life difficult for themselves in the early rounds of the FA Cup. In January of 2013, the Reds were on the end of a giant killing as they crashed out of the FA Cup in the fourth round, losing 3-2 to Oldham. Oldham, at the time, were 55 places below Liverpool, who boasted a strike force of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool fans will be hoping this years competition runs a little more smoothly.

Here’s how fans reacted to news of the draw: