07 January 2007

3rd Round FA Cup Musings

I realize it’s only a 3rd round FA Cup game at home against a struggling Villa side, but my fears are quickly becoming realized with Henrik Larsson’s first goal for Manchester United. He missed a couple of good chances in the first half, but made no mistake 10 minutes into the second, smashing a volley into the net. Larsson also linked well with an underperforming Wayne Rooney and showed as much ability in setting up an opportunity as striking one. Not good.

There have been complaints that Larsson’s signing on a short-term loan demonstrates United’s limited budget and the fiscal restraints that Glazer’s debt has incurred. While that will come back to bite the club in other matters, regardless of the financial situation, Larsson’s signing is smart business. He is proven quality on every stage he’s played on, and the fact he started so quickly in England bodes poorly.

I still believe United is thin in both midfield and defense. They’ve been able to keep up their excellent form partly because of luck with injuries. If/when there are injuries, they could be in trouble in these areas. But with a strike force of Rooney, Saha, Solksjaer and now Larsson, they’re well insulated, even if it is for the short term. With United still alive in both the FA Cup and Champions League, that depth will be necessary.

In other results, two Premier League sides were beaten by lower-division sides: Nottingham Forest over Charlton and Swansea over Sheffield United, while Birmingham, Hull City, Leicester City, Cardiff City, and Sheffield Wednesday held on for replays against Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Tottenham, and Manchester City respectively. Sheffield was the only PL side named above beaten or drawn at home.

Full 3rd round results (ties to be replayed in italics):
Bristol Rovers 1-0 Hereford
Stoke 2-0 Millwall
Birmingham 2-2 Newcastle
Blackpool 4-2 Aldershot
Bristol City 3-3 Coventry
Chelsea 6-1 Macclesfield
Chester 0-0 Ipswich
Crystal Palace 2-1 Swindon
Derby 3-1 Wrexham
Doncaster 0-4 Bolton
Hull 1-1 Middlesbrough
Leicester 2-2 Fulham
Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal
Nottingham Forest 2-0 Charlton
Peterborough 1-1 Plymouth
Portsmouth 2-1 Wigan
Preston 1-0 Sunderland
QPR 2-2 Luton
Sheffield United 0-3 Swansea
Southend 1-1 Barnsley
Tamworth 1-4 Norwich
Torquay 0-2 Southampton
Watford 4-1 Stockport
West Brom 3-1 Leeds
West Ham 3-0 Brighton
Wolverhampton 2-2 Oldham
Cardiff 0-0 Tottenham
Everton 1-4 Blackburn
Man United 2-1 Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Man City

Reading v Burnley and Barnet v Colchester take place on Tuesday after being postponed.

The draw for the 4th round is Monday.

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