Goal.com has compiled a list of the most entertaining showpieces in the competition’s 141-year history, from white horses to saved penalties and 90th-minute winners
Posts Categorized: FA Cup
It’s been 10 years since Roman Abramovich became sole owner of Chelsea. In this time, they’ve won 3 Premier League trophies, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 Community Shields, and the Champions League. In the 5 years since the Abu Dhabi group bought Manchester City, they’ve won the league, one FA Cup, and have …
Tottenham centre forward Sandy Brown scored all four goals as non-League Tottenham defeated West Bromwich Albion to reach their first FA Cup Final. Albion were overwhelming favourites to win the semi-final played at Villa Park but Tottenham’s giant-killing act continued. On This Day 8th April, 1901 Tottenham Hotspur 4 West Bromwich Albion 0 (at Villa [...]
In other, less go-getting football pods, you would assume that James Richardson and guests Barry Glendenning, Jacob Steiberg and Paul MacInnes would kick off proceedings with a non-handshake, non-debate.But not on Football Weekly – oh no. We start with…
With a number of big ties on Saturday and Sunday including Chelsea-Brentford, Paddy Power have two special offers for both their new and existing customers
Goal.com cartoonist Omar Momani gives us his unique take on the football news of the day
Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas Boas and Leeds United manager Neil Warnock at post-match press conferences
VIDEO: SEE all the goals and action from the weekend’s games as Man Utd thrashed Fulham at Old Trafford
There is one player who Andre Villas-Boas should have selected for his Tottenham team at Leeds in the FA Cup 4th Round tie. The manager has a difficult task keeping all the players fresh and fit and so must rotate the squad when the opportunities present themselves. Tottenham have a busy schedule of matches ahead [...]
Tottenham’s chance for domestic cup glory this season came to a grinding halt with a 2-1 loss to Championship side Leeds United in the FA Cup fourth round Sunday.While Spurs supporters can take solace in some obvious silver linings from this cup defeat…
• Manager happy with squad despite Jermain Defoe injury
• Neil Warnock enjoys ‘fabulous day’ after FA Cup win
André Villas-Boas defended Tottenham Hotspur’s recruitment programme after they had been added to the list of Premier League casualties in the FA Cup and insisted he was comfortable with their attacking options despite going into the tie at Leeds United without a recognised senior striker.
Jermain Defoe has battled the pain of a niggling pelvic problem in recent weeks, which has required at least one injection and may yet need surgery to cure properly, and he was stood down from the 2-1 defeat at Elland Road. With Emmanuel Adebayor absent on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Togo, Villas-Boas was left to start two attacking midfielders, Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson, as centre-forwards.
Villas-Boas said that Defoe would return at Norwich City on Wednesday but there has been concern behind the scenes at Tottenham about the England international, even if the manager has been defiant in public. Defoe had been expected to miss the previous Sunday’s home fixture against Manchester United only to declare that he was fit enough and determined to play.
The club have explored the possibility of signing a new striker this month, and Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo is the latest possible target. But Villas-Boas said that he did not foresee any reinforcements in the final week of the transfer window and he added that the apparent imbalance to his squad was not to blame for the loss to Leeds.
“It is risk we were willing to take,” he said. “We are comfortable with the situation. We are happy with the squad. This defeat is not going to alert us to anything. Unfortunately we missed Defoe, who gives us options, but we have him back for Norwich and still have Ade to return so we have strength in depth.
“We will have to see when we can get Ade back but we did not lose because we missed chances that a striker may have taken. We lost because we could not create enough clear-cut chances.
“It’s disappointing because we wanted to stay in this competition but they [Leeds] were very competitive and scoring first gave them the extra stimulus. Leeds made the most of their opportunities and deserve credit. We had a couple of chances in the beginning that normally we score and maybe we could have done a little bit more but it’s a hard game for any team that comes here. Leeds were really up for it and going to 2-0 gave them more inspiration.”
Neil Warnock, the Leeds manager, described it as a “fabulous day” for the Championship side. “We’ve got some good players. We haven’t got a massive squad but when we play like we did today it makes me really proud to be the manager. We’ve had a few problems, a bit of dissent around the place. But I didn’t think we got anything other than we deserved.
“When you look at the two teams on paper you don’t know how the hell you are going to have a kick, let alone beat them. But you don’t play teams on paper. It just shows what can happen if you’ve got a good group of players and you are all in it together.”
West Yorkshire police confirmed after the match they were investigating a laser pen being shone from the crowd. Neither manager was aware of it but Warnock did mischievously suggest that “it must have been on their centre-half [Steven Caulker] for the second goal”.
Warnock had left out Luciano Becchio because of his transfer request and confirmed there had been “two or three offers” from abroad but none that matched the club’s asking price. Leeds, however, did not miss their leading scorer and Caulker was not alone in having a poor day. “My reflections on our defending I don’t really want to make public,” Villas-Boas said.
An emotional blog written in the heat of the moment. It’s the 91st minute of the Oldham vs. Liverpool FA Cup tie and I am rooting for Liverpool to lose. It’s small minded and should be beneath me but I am nevertheless. There is 6 minutes of added time. I am also hoping that Chelsea [...]
Energetic pressing against Spurs from first minute led to a constant, aggressive tempo that gave Leeds the edge
From the opening minute, Leeds’ defensive work in the opposition half hinted at an upset. The game was just 30 seconds old when Rodolph Austin closed down Scott Parker, forced him into a mistake, and the home side gained possession high up the pitch to an approving roar from across Elland Road – that set the tempo for a fierce, aggressive and tactically brave performance.
Leeds’ pressing was energetic, but also impressively consistent throughout the game. Unlike his opposite number, Neil Warnock isn’t a modern, suave strategist with buzzwords and detailed instructions for individuals – his final pre-match words probably involved encouraging his charges to “make a nuisance of themselves” when Spurs had possession, although with both Michael Brown and El-Hadji Diouf in his starting XI, such direction was probably unnecessary. Still, that duo were not merely wind-up merchants – Brown’s ability to prevent Parker distributing the ball positively was key in slowing Spurs’ attacks, and Diouf was very disciplined positionally, dropping off the front and occupying Tom Huddlestone, while Ross McCormack made constant lateral runs to close down Steven Caulker and Jan Vertonghen.
But Leeds’ commitment in the opposition half led to a lack of security when Tottenham worked the ball forward. There was space in between the lines, occasionally exploited by Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale when they drifted inside, but surprisingly not by Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had another quiet game, failing to link midfield and attack. There was also too much space in behind the defence – Clint Dempsey got into a couple of promising positions from simple balls over the Leeds back four, although failed to make the most of these opportunities.
In stark contrast, Leeds ruthlessly exploited the space in behind the Tottenham defence. Their best chances – and both goals – came when they attacked directly. Diouf switched expertly from being an extra midfielder to a useful attacking option, providing the assist for Luke Varney’s opener with a clever volleyed flick, and lofting the ball over the defence in the second half for McCormack’s composed finish.
Tottenham’s defective offside trap was clearly a contributing factor – Caulker and Vertonghen were surprisingly troubled by simple runs from McCormack – but the reality was that Spurs’ entire spine performed poorly. Dempsey is not a natural No9 – he found himself on the scoresheet thanks to a fine header, but that was his sixth attempt at goal, and possibly the most difficult chance of the lot. The midfield zone, too, was out-of-sorts – Parker still looks extremely rusty, while Tom Huddlestone can distribute the ball delightfully but, against constant pressing, lacks either a burst of pace or dribbling ability to skip past opponents.
That obvious weakness made it surprising André Villas-Boas did not introduce Mousa Dembélé at half-time, and waited until Spurs had conceded a second. Kyle Walker came on for Kyle Naughton and pushed Varney back, while youngster Jon Obika replaced Sigurdsson, allowing Dempsey to move deeper. Obika provided pace in behind, and had a golden chance to equalise, from a long Benoît Assou-Ekotto ball over the defence, but it was no better an opportunity than McCormack’s one-on-one with Brad Friedel at the other end, following Assou-Ekotto’s stumbled attempt to cope with yet another ball over the top.
Parker and Brown had a squabble at the final whistle, following a typically unnecessary lunge from the Leeds midfielder in stoppage time – but it was fitting that Parker’s struggles bookended the game. Even Parker, the all-action, scrappy midfielder that would run through a brick wall for his side was rattled, flustered and unable to cope with Leeds’ determined midfield pressure.
Tottenham’s dreams of another FA Cup win ended at Elland Road as Leeds United revived memories of their only FA Cup with a 2 – 1 victory. Leeds defeated Spurs on the road to their only success in 1972. Leeds deservedly progressed to the 5th Round as they showed the greater endeavour and desire throughout [...]
Tottenham Hotspur suffered yet more FA Cup disappointment as the eight-time winners were upset by Leeds United in the Fourth Round, ensuring at the next opportunity it will be 23 years since they last won the competition.Luke Varney and Ross McCormack …
By the end it was a reminder of those days when Elland Road would consider this kind of result as the norm rather than the exception. Leeds United played with the competitive spirit for which they were once renowned. Given the size of the club, they might not take too kindly to being described as giant-killers, but there was still something fairly heroic about the way they bridged the gap between themselves and Tottenham Hotspur and accounted for the biggest casualty so far in this season’s competition.
They were helped, undoubtedly, by an obliging Spurs side but that should not detract from the efforts of Neil Warnock and, in particular, the frequency with which their attacking players menaced their Premier League opponents. Leeds were playing here without their leading scorer, Luciano Becchio, dropped from the squad after submitting a transfer request last week. Their opening goal was scored by the man who took his place, Luke Varney, while Ross McCormack played as though on a personal mission to show that Becchio’s absence need not be decisive.
McCormack’s goal five minutes into the second half was a beauty and, though Clint Dempsey’s header eight minutes later ensued it would be a nerve-shredding finale, the Championship’s 11th-placed side coped admirably during those
For Tottenham, it was an undistinguished afternoon that suggested not enough of André Villas-Boas’s players fully understood the significance of this competition to the club. Spurs have a rich FA Cup tradition but the eight-time winners have not reached a final since their last success in 1991. Scott Parker’s display, indefatigably in midfield, should exempt him criticism and, for parts of the second half, Gareth Bale was a formidable opponent.
Overall, though, this was a scruffy Spurs performance. They can pass the ball a lot better and surely should have known it would be an afternoon when Leeds would stretch every sinew to try to make up for the imbalance of talent.
Their ordeal began after a quarter of an hour when Michael Brown hooked an innocuous ball forwards and suddenly Varney was free on the left and making a beeline straight for the goal. Kyle Naughton and, to a lesser extent, Steven Caulker had both been caught out after El Hadji Diouf dangled out his leg and made no contact. The ball ran through and Varney ignored McCormack’s shouts, opened up his body and angled his shot past Brad Friedel.
Varney makes an unlikely hero given that the 30-year-old has strayed perilously close to exhausting the patience of the Elland Road crowd in his first season with the club. He signed from Portsmouth last June and marked his debut, in their first match of the season, by scoring one of the goals in a 4-0 defeat of Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup. The problem was he did not manage another in his next 18 appearances. Perhaps this will be the turning point in his Leeds career.
Leeds could have been further ahead before half-time, Friedel having to save at McCormack’s feet at the end of the first half, and Tottenham’s vulnerability in defence was exposed again five minutes after the interval. The goal started with Gylfi Sigurdsson losing the ball in the Leeds half.
Diouf, reminding us of better days, released McCormack and when he turned inside Caulker it became apparent there was nobody to help him. McCormack took the only option available, scoring with a wonderfully taken left-foot shot that was still rising as it hit the net.
Dempsey scored with a clever, twisting header from Bale’s cross but the American had already missed a far easier chance and Spurs badly missed Jermain Defoe duing those moments when they went looking for an equaliser.
Defoe was missing with a hip problem and, with Emmanuel Adebayor playing in the Africa Cup of Nations, that meant Sigurdsson, a midfielder by trade, playing in attack with Dempsey. The experiment did not work and there was only clear opportunity to snatch a replay when the substitute John Obkia ran clear only for Lee Peltier to time his tackle perfectly just as the Spurs player was shaping to shoot.
Neil Warnock’s side capitalised on some sloppy defending from the Premier League visitors to clinch a narrow win and book their place in the fifth round on the FA Cup
Minute-by-minute report: Follow all the action as Spurs take on Leeds at Elland Road, with Jacob SteinbergJacob Steinberg
LEEDS made sure the FA Cup’s round of shocks continued as goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack dumped Tottenham out
The 32-year-old central midfielder thinks his side can reach Wembley and bring silverware back to White Hart Lane this season, despite the club’s main goal being a top-four finish
The 35-year-old coach was left ranting and raving after his Chelsea side suffered defeat against QPR last season, but he has become a more relaxed and affable character since then
The Leeds manager says Tottenham, who face his side in the FA Cup on Sunday, are playing better football than the club who cast aside the Portuguese
Neil Warnock believes Tottenham Hotspur are a better team than Chelsea and thinks he knows the reason why. “They’re more fluent,” says the Leeds United manager. “You’ve got to give credit to the coaching.”
André Villas-Boas does a lot of it and Warnock is convinced that the young Portuguese will soon exact revenge on the people who let him crash and burn so spectacularly as Chelsea’s manager early last season.
Since taking charge at Tottenham, Villa-Boas has, according to Warnock, “relaxed”, following his chastening experience at Stamford Bridge. “I think it’s been a relief for AVB after Chelsea,” says the man whose Leeds players face Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and company in Sunday’s fourth round tie at Elland Road. “And Tottenham are playing relaxed football; getting 61% possession against Manchester United last weekend was unbelievable. They can win the title in the next two years. They might not have quite the depth of other squads but their first X1 is as good as anyone’s in England – and I’ve always thought AVB talked a lot of sense. I enjoy talking to him. He was young and it was difficult for him at Chelsea – I don’t think he’d experienced anything like he faced there before – but he’s getting the right help from people at Tottenham.”
At 64 Warnock is almost 30 years older than his 35-year-old counterpart and exhibits an almost paternal pride in the footballing redemption of a man whose Chelsea career hit a major snag when they lost 1-0 to his QPR in the autumn of 2011. “We won a game everybody said we couldn’t win; a bit similar to this weekend really,” says Warnock who has been delighted to see Villas-Boas restore Michael Dawson to the heart of Tottenham’s defence.
“I honestly think Michael Dawson is as good as anyone in the country in that position,” he said. “He started the season as fifth-choice centre-half down there but I bet AVB’s pleased he perserved with him. Every top team needs a Michael Dawson.” Warnock feels much the same about Scott Parker and dismisses suggestions that Sandro’s long-term absence with severe knee ligament damage will hurt Spurs.
“I’d prefer Sandro to play against us than Scotty Parker on Sunday,” he says. “I was close to signing Scotty at QPR. Everything he does is so simple. He’s top class; I always thought he should captain England. He does every job to the best of his ability; he’s the sort of player that, as a manager, you want to say ‘good morning’ to.
“I nearly signed him on transfer deadline day [in August 2011] because, due to his age, I didn’t think Daniel Levy would buy Parker for Tottenham. Scotty said he’d come to us [QPR] if Spurs didn’t happen. But then, in the afternoon, Daniel relented.”
If Warnock would happily “pay to watch” Parker, Dawson and Bale, his favourite Spur is probably their former Leeds winger Aaron Lennon. “If I had to choose any player in the Premier League, Lennon would not be far off the top of the list,” he says. “I love his pace but what I like about him is he’s like a little kid. He wants to do everything, to dribble, score and create. He excites people.”
Andre Villas-Boas’ men have scored freely on their travels, and with the home crowd behind them, Al Hain-Cole also expects the hosts to hit the back of the net
Andre Villas-Boas takes his side to Elland Road for a potentially tricky encounter. Check in to Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur Steffen Freund has told Tottenham Hotspur not to underestimate Leeds United when they take on to the Championship side…
Tottenham’s match on Sunday against Leeds United at Elland Road will be the sixth occasion on which the two clubs have been drawn together in the FA Cup. Of the previous five ties, three have gone to replays. Spurs’ only Cup win in Yorkshire was in their game at Elland Road when a Jermain Defoe [...]
Of all the ties this weekend, this perhaps has the greatest potential for one of the Premier League heavyweights to be toppled. Yet Tottenham are in good form, with only one defeat in their past 14 matches after rescuing a draw against Manchester United last weekend, whereas the Leeds manager, Neil Warnock, may leave out his leading scorer, Luciano Becchio, now he has handed in a transfer request. Leeds have shown already this season that they are not fazed by playing Premier League opponents, knocking out Southampton and Everton from the Capital One Cup. All the same, they will be hoping André Villas-Boas may rest a couple of players for a Spurs side that have not reached the final of this competition since 1991. Daniel Taylor
Venue Elland Road, Sunday 2pm
Referee Kevin Friend
Odds Leeds 9-2 Tottenham 4-6 Draw 11-4
Head to head Leeds 31 Tottenham 36 Draws 29
Subs from Ashdown, Pearce, Green, Becchio, Tate, Norris, Somma, Poleon, Hall, Payne
Subs from Friedel, Huddlestone, Gallas, Naughton, Falqué, Sigurdsson, Smith, Livermore, Caulker
Doubtful Defoe, Gallas
Injured Kaboul, Sandro
• Leeds have been knocked out by either Arsenal or Tottenham in each of the past three FA Cups. Their only defeat in the past eight games was by Chelsea in the Capital One Cup
The Yorkshire side, mid-table in the Championship, will be aiming to cause another upset after knocking Everton out of the Capital One Cup earlier in the season
It seems crazy to think that, should Leeds United not get promoted from The Championship this season, 2013-14 will mark ten years since they were last in the Premier League.The story of the Yorkshire club’s financial troubles are well documented. As pe…
The 29-year-old has recalled the Championship side’s battling display against Spurs in the fourth round three years ago and has warned his team-mates to prepare accordingly
So, it’s Leeds United away in the FA Cup 4th Round next weekend. Live on ESPN. Not easy. Neil Warnock can certainly gee a team up for games like this. Leeds are my least favourite team. I never liked them much from the Don Revie days. They always seemed to play with a snarl rather than a [...]
With Premier League glory looking unlikely and Champions League victory now impossible, Al Hain-Cole is backing Roberto Mancini’s men for cup success
Brian McDermott’s employers should not act rashly, Macclesfield’s failure to sell out speaks volumes and other matters arising
1) Reading’s win could be a significant moment in the life of Brian
A comfortable 3-1 victory against League One opposition is still a comfortable 3-1 victory and, if there is anything more to be gleaned from Reading’s simple act of third round banana-skin avoidance, it is perhaps just a reminder of the basic virtues of the current team. Brian McDermott likes nothing more than soft-pedalling any notions of over-reaction and was close to inaudible at his post-match press conference, so even was his keel, so cooled were his boots. But this could still be a quietly significant moment for Reading, who were 1-0 down to Crawley after 14 seconds but refused to panic, instead quietly and attractively asserting their superior attacking play and looking here like what they are: a spirited, well-drilled team that is just a little short of the highest quality.
There has been some suggestion Reading’s owners might make a desperate grope for the instant returns of another season at Premier League level by replacing McDermott, rather than taking the longer view that, if Reading are relegated, he is still the best man to take them back up. But at the Broadfield Stadium, and against lesser opposition, the suggestion was the armature of the promotion team remains intact, as does its basic morale. If McDermott learnt anything more here, it might be that Adam Le Fondre, who scored twice and was a constant threat with his movement, perhaps deserves a little more game time. Barney Ronay
2) The end of Macclesfield’s 139-year quest was not worth the price of admission for some
Those at Moss Rose will long speak of how they witnessed the end of a 139-year quest to reach the FA Cup fourth round after Macclesfield Town’s late, late show took them from 1-0 down to knock out Cardiff City 2-1. On a cold evening the voltage with which the home crowd rent the Cheshire air as Matthew Barnes-Homer’s two strikes won the tie tingled the senses, so it was a shame the tiny ground was not a sell-out, despite this being a classic Cup encounter between the Championship leaders and a non-league side who are 11th. In straitened times perhaps clubs should again consider the price of admission. Jamie Jackson
3) Arsène Wenger bitten by the bargain bin
Arsène Wenger loves a bargain and will reflect on the eye-catching presence in Sunday’s Swansea team of Michel Vorm, Kyle Bartley and Michu, who together cost the Welsh club £5m. All three could get into the present Arsenal squad. Vorm is a better goalkeeper than any at the Emirates. Michu, a snip at £2m, is outscoring Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott (combined fees in excess of £25m) and, most embarrassing of all for the Gunners, was the contrast between Germany’s Per Mertesacker, for whom they paid £7m, and young Bartley, whom they sold to Swansea in the summer for a knockdown £1m. Bartley was probably the man of the match in only his second appearance as stand-in for Ashley Williams while Mertesacker’s was a four out of 10 performance. Joe Lovejoy
4) A policy of honesty
“It’s not his job to own up,” Brendan Rodgers said. The Liverpool manager had just been asked whether Luis Suárez should have admitted knocking the ball down with his hand to score the goal that put them in the FA Cup fourth round. He had a point, too. Robbie Fowler, in fairness, once tried (unsuccessfully) to get a penalty overturned, admitting he had not been fouled, but we remember that because it was the exception rather than the norm. Otherwise it’s difficult to think there has ever been a striker who has put up his hand and asked, in the interests of sportsmanship, for his goal to be ruled out. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen, whether we like it or not. Mansfield were entitled to be aggrieved but here’s the thing: would they have accepted it at the other end? Their manager, Paul Cox, said he would. “I can’t be two-faced.” Daniel Taylor
5) Forget Torres and Ba – Mata is the key for Chelsea
Having seen Demba Ba make a stunning start to his life at Chelsea by scoring twice in their 5-1 victory over Southampton on Saturday, Rafael Benítez, the club’s first-team interim manager, claimed that the Senegal striker could play up front with Fernando Torres. It was a diplomatic gesture from the Spaniard, aimed at assuring his compatriot that he remains a pivotal part of his plans, but as he sat on the substitutes’ bench at St Mary’s, Torres must have been fearing the worst.
For starters Benítez likes to put out sides that play with a single striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation and that means that when it really matters he is likely to pick either Torres or Ba. More importantly, however, switching to a two-man attack would almost certainly negate the influence of Juan Mata, who once again delivered a superb display for Chelsea in a roaming role just behind the lone striker. He, far more than Torres, is Stamford Bridge’s key Spanish performer and Benítez would be foolish to do anything that sidelined his influence on the team. Mata, quite literally, is central to Chelsea’s chances of success. Sachin Nakrani
6) The Crouch-Owen axis is unlikely to feature in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts
The former England strike partnership of Michael Owen and Peter Crouch scored 16 goals in 16 games when they played together at international level. Crouch claimed in September that the pair could still be a force for England but on this evidence he is wide of the mark. Save for a flick on from Owen and a spurned effort from Crouch in the first half, they hardly threatened the Palace goal. Owen started his first game for Stoke and played 53 minutes, as many as he had managed in the entire season before Saturday. James Riach
7) West Ham should not feel too disheartened by Manchester United’s late equaliser
To paraphrase the captain Kevin Nolan, Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United felt like a defeat, so sickening was the visitors’ injury-time equaliser, but the overall picture for West Ham looks brighter than it did during a gloomy December. Injuries are clearing, with Alou Diarra making his long-awaited return against United, Jack Collison and Ricardo Vaz Tê already back, and Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diamé, according to Sam Allardyce, expected to be “very close” for next week’s replay. Throw in the signings of Joe Cole and Marouane Chamakh, players with points to prove, and the squad looks deeper and primed for the battles ahead. David Hytner
8) Poyet’s gamble provides balletic bang for the buck of Brighton fans
“Sometimes,” said Gus Poyet, “you buy a ticket for a football game and it’s horrendous.” With that in mind, the Brighton manager told his players to give their supporters something to remember against Newcastle. His message certainly got through to Andrea Orlandi, whose balletic finish, flicking the ball with the outside of his left foot past Rob Elliot despite having his back to goal, set Brighton on their way to another win over Alan Pardew’s side. It was a touch of class one might not have expected from a Championship player but that is the Poyet way. The Uruguayan was very pleased with himself, too, for picking the Spaniard. “He was 50-50 to play,” Poyet said. “We took a risk. A nice one! Good decision!” Brighton fans would agree it more than justified the price of their ticket. Jacob Steinberg
9) Manchester City’s centre-back pairing looked shaky against pace
Gianfranco Zola was not strictly correct in observing that his side had faced City’s strongest XI minus Joe Hart. Sergio Agüero was also missing, and Roberto Mancini rested Matija Nastasic to give Joleon Lescott a rare start at centre-back. Neither he nor Vincent Kompany had a comfortable experience against the pace and direct running of Matej Vydra, who proved too quick for both the home centre-backs in the first half-hour. No great harm came of it but, coupled with the two occasions when City’s high defensive line was caught out to let Watford players one on one with the goalkeeper, it was not the most impressive defensive performance against a Championship side by a club that wants to measure itself against the best in Europe. With more finishing composure, Watford could have run City close. Paul Wilson
10) AVB treats the FA Cup with some much-needed TLC
If only all managers prized the FA Cup as much as André Villas-Boas, the competition might regain its former lustre. Finals were once the pinnacle of the season for players, managers and fans – unmissable events lavished with drama. Unanimous hunger for the big-eared trophy was the driving force. AVB made seven changes to his line-up to play the League One side Coventry but still selected a side of such quality and experience that it showed he, at least, has that hunger, regardless of Tottenham’s other commitments. It gave some pride back to the world’s oldest knockout competition – and gave the Sky Blues a hiding too. Jonny Weeks
VIDEO: SEE all the goals and action from the weekend’s games as holders Chelsea thrashed Southampton
• Coventry fall flat in re-run of 1987 FA Cup final
• Bale scores on surprise start after suspension
Americanisms are so abundant in Clint Dempsey’s post-match interviews you would imagine his six months at Tottenham were his first in England. Yet talk of “A-games” and “shutouts” masks a man fluent in the English game who can slip effortlessly into any number of roles within Tottenham’s line-up.
Dempsey was employed as a secondary striker to Emmanuel Adebayor, neatly splicing Tottenham’s midfield and attack in order to vanquish Coventry’s ambition of an FA Cup upset. He found the net twice as Spurs sprinted to a 3-0 lead inside 37 minutes – his first was a tap-in and his second a header which arced diagonally over helpless defenders into the far corner.
“I was on a good run of form before I picked up an injury in the Swansea game, but I’m happy that I’ve been able to pick up where I left off, creating opportunities, getting a goal in the Reading game and getting two against Coventry,” he said. “I’ve got six goals and five assists so it’s good to be getting those stats up.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. They had an opportunity to come out and do something special and we needed to make sure we put in a professional performance. It was good for us to get goals early and get a shutout.”
Gareth Bale, who scored Tottenham’s second, was returned to the left flank following his one-match suspension, and without concern by André Villas-Boas. It was a selection Coventry had not expected and they looked leaden as Bale rampaged through them.
“We have a lot of players who can play a number of positions, Gylfi [Sigurdsson] can play left and right and underneath the striker. I can do the same, Bale can do the same,” Dempsey said. “You see a lot of interchanging because it’s natural. It gives us more flexibility to put teams off-balance.”
City must have been unbalanced the moment they stepped off the coach. Their first-half performance was entirely forgettable. They had arrived at Spurs for the first time since 2001 on a club record of six successive away wins and have risen from the depths of League One to promotion candidates since Mark Robins took charge in the autumn. Yet having lost their main striker David McGoldrick in the week – he has moved to Ipswich on loan following the end of his spell with the Sky Blues – their hopes of a shock result were hampered.
Nonetheless, the fans trumpeted the club’s anthem “Play up, Sky Blues” from the off, heralding City’s alleged invincibility at the hands of “Tottenham or Chelsea, United or anyone” – a song whose original lyrics were penned by the former manager Jimmy Hill in 1962. Within 14 minutes it was obvious that Coventry were, indeed, vincible.
“There’s a lot of quality in the team and we want to do something special this year,” Dempsey added. “We want to finish in a position that qualifies us for Champions League next year. If we’re able to bring our A-game we can beat anybody on any given day.” Robins admitted his side were sterile: “Nobody put any pressure on the ball and when you give top European players that much time, they’ll murder you.”
Man of the match Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)