breathe life back into FA Cup

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Anfield, Friday. While Virgil van Dijk humbly celebrates scoring Liverpool’s late winner the TV cameras pan out to capture one of the images of the season: Jürgen Klopp shaking his fists with the jittery frenzy of someone suddenly plugged into the national grid while yards away the Everton assistant manager, Sammy Lee, simultaneously twists his body, shuts his eyes and barks a pained expletive.

The Ricoh Arena, Saturday. The Coventry City defender Jack Grimmer meanders unchallenged towards the Stoke City box, swings his right foot and seems stunned as it evades a stuck‑in‑the-mud Jack Butland to put the Sky Blues ahead. Then Grimmer’s tongue comes out and he is clowning around with his team-mates and no wonder: Coventry are on their way to humbling a side 56 places higher in the League pyramid.

The City Ground, Sunday. Eric Lichaj’s deft volley in Nottingham Forest’s thrilling 4-2 win over the holders, Arsenal, finishes the FA Cup weekend on a high. Three games. Three very different scenes. Yet together they make up a triptych which hints that the mini-revival of the world’s oldest tournament just might be gathering pace.

It was notable the Merseyside derby was watched by more than seven million people – higher than any TV game in Britain this season – and four times the number who tuned into last month’s match on Sky Sports. It was also, impressively, close to a million more viewers than ITV had for both England’s friendlies against Germany and Brazil in November.

Sure, it is only one match. But given all the anguish about declining FA Cup audiences in the past decade such figures are worth celebrating. (In 2009 and 2010, for instance, the FA Cup http://www.officialcoloradoavalanche.com/Adidas-Patrick-Roy-Jersey finals had fewer than six Justin Tucker Youth jersey million viewers.)

Coventry, meanwhile, did not just provide one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of recent years; they did so in style. Too many times in the Premier League weaker teams not only park the bus but let down the tyres, wreck the ignition and clamp the wheels. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it merely delays the inevitable while boring the rest of us. Yet even though the Sky Blues were facing a close to a full-strength Stoke side, they continued to attack and were rewarded with a fourth-round spot.

They were not the only smaller sides who threw caution to the wind. The League One leaders Wigan Athletic were 2-1 up against Bournemouth yet Wesley Matthews Authentic Jersey continued to bomb forward trying to kill the game Sean Rodriguez Jersey off – while the League Two leaders Luton Town had more possession in their 3-1 defeat at Newcastle United. Forest, too, got their just rewards after repeatedly targeting Arsenal’s rickety defence.

The threat of an unwanted replay also appeared to encourage Everton to attack on Friday and the contrast in quality between the Merseyside derby last month, when Liverpool controlled 79% of possession and peppered Everton’s goal with http://www.officialmlbrangersshop.com/authentic-12-rougned-odor-jersey.html 23 shots to three only to be swindled, was stark.

True, seven of the third-round ties finished goalless, with Fleetwood v Leicester City, Norwich City v Chelsea, and Shrewsbury Town v West Ham United all TV stinkers. But at least those games were rubbish in the traditional sense, because of a lack of quality, not because teams set their stall out for a draw.

There were other reasons for mild optimism. Usually there is some gap between the manic gluttony of Premier League fixtures http://www.authentictorontobluejaysshop.com/Marcus-Stroman-Jersey over Christmas and the new year and the FA Cup; a chance to breathe and recalibrate. This year there were barely 22 hours between Spurs’ game against West Ham ending at Wembley and Liverpool kicking off against Everton. It would have been understandable if most Premier League sides fielded reserves en masse. Yet many – including Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as several threatened by relegation, such as West Brom and West Ham – put strong teams out. nike nfl jerseys supply cheap jerseys nfl cheap jerseys wholesale nike nfl jerseys size chart wholesale nfl jerseys free shipping nike nfl jerseys wholesale


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