Four more FA Cup ties to bring you up to speed with from Sunday, with two Premier League sides comfortably progressing to the fourth round and another two embarrassingly bowing out at the hands of lower-league opposition.
The key Fantasy talking points, manager quotes and injury updates are all covered in our latest Scout Notes article.
Manchester City 7-0 Rotherham United
Pep Guardiola hailed the impact of the fit-again Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) after Manchester City’s demolition of Rotherham United.
De Bruyne created Raheem Sterling‘s (£11.3m) goal with an incisive through-ball and would have clocked up more assists were it not for the wayward finishing of Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m), who hit the bar and miskicked from two De Bruyne key passes.
Guardiola said of the Belgian midfielder:
We spoke with him yesterday to play 65/70 minutes for his rhythm and his injury. He played incredible, created a good amount of chances and has a vision that others aren’t able to see.
Last season he played incredible minutes but hopefully, in the second leg of the season, he will help us because we need him. I said many times: without him, last season maybe it wouldn’t have been possible.
De Bruyne oozed class in central midfield before being withdrawn midway through the second half, though had his thunder stolen somewhat by Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m): the Germany international registered assists for four of City’s goals, one of which was an excellent chipped pass that Phil Foden (£4.6m) converted.
It is difficult to know what to read into this rout, which had the air of a mismatched pre-season friendly against lower-league opposition designed to give the “bigger” club an injection of confidence for the real tests ahead.
Rotherham manager Paul Warne summed up the one-sided contest when saying: “their slowest player is quicker than my quickest player”.
However, on a weekend when some Premier League clubs have made heavy work of ties against opponents from the Football League (Manchester United, Everton, Crystal Palace) or indeed been the victims of a giant-killing (Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Leicester City, Fulham), City deserve some credit for their swashbuckling display.
Sterling was excellent and back to something approaching his best, with the England winger handed a 57-minute run-out on the left flank before making way for substitute Leroy Sane (£9.5m).
Sterling had gone close to scoring before breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes and would have registered a second goal were it not for the intervention of Semi Ajayi, who turned Kyle Walker‘s (£6.4m) low cross into his own net.
The former Liverpool midfielder then turned provider for Jesus early in the second half, teeing up the Brazilian for an unmissable tap-in to put City 4-0 up.
Guardiola again suggested Sterling could make improvements to his game, though:
Raheem’s work ethic, his physicality, is incredibly strong. He has this mentality to create chances and score goals and it’s good for him. He’s scored more goals now than in our first season.
I think he improved a lot and it’s the same with Phil [Foden]. Raheem is [23 years old]. We cannot expect him to be precise and clear and make good decisions in every single action.
When he is 26 or 27 he will be an incredible, much better player, give us more joy with the way he plays but he still has many things to improve.
He has to be more clinical and precise in the important games. Today we created a lot of chances but if we play against Liverpool or in the Champions League we create just two or three chances. We don’t have more because the opponents are good, so in that moment we need him. We need him to be precise and to be there.
Sane completed the victory with a goal of his own on 85 minutes, which had been preceded by a Nicolas Otamendi (£6.1m) header from a Gundogan corner.
Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) was deployed on the right of City’s front three for this encounter and stroked in a Gundogan pass to put his side 5-0 up, though again the Algerian wasn’t quite as effective as his team-mate on the opposite flank.
Having seen Brahim Diaz depart for Real Madrid on the day of this victory, Guardiola ruled out the prospect of Foden leaving the club on loan in the January transfer window:
Phil Foden loan? No way! No way, impossible. He’s going to stay with us many, many years. Impossible. Believe me, if he plays, it’s because we believe he can play.
We are not here to be nice people to bring him on the pitch because he’s a Manchester City fan or is a nice guy. It’s because we believe he can do it.
He’s made mistakes and done good things – that’s part of the process. Nobody was born knowing everything.
Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m), David Silva (£8.5m), Bernardo Silva (£7.5m), Sergio Aguero (£11.2m) and Fernandinho (£5.3m) were among the players handed a rest for this tie, while Fabian Delph (£5.3m) served the final match of his three-game ban.
City are in action again in midweek (a Carabao Cup semi-final against Burton Albion) before they entertain Wolves next Monday.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones (Danilo 75′), Otamendi, Zinchenko; Gundogan, De Bruyne (Sandler 67′), Foden; Sterling (Sane 57′), Jesus, Mahrez.
Fulham 1-2 Oldham Athletic
Substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.6m) missed a penalty with his first touch of the game as Fulham succumbed to an embarrassing defeat to their League Two opponents on a day of cup upsets.
Just over a week on from the spot-kick debacle against Huddersfield Town, Mitrovic saw his 84th-minute effort from 12 yards saved and the Cottagers then went on to concede a winner four minutes later to bow out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle.
Right-back Denis Odoi (£4.4m) had opened the scoring just after half-time but other than that goal and Mitrovic’s poor spot-kick, the hosts didn’t register another shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.
Having made six changes to his side and given several squad players the opportunity to impress, Claudio Ranieri fumed at full-time:
I think the first half was so boring for us. We didn’t play as we are used to play. Also, in training sessions we played much better.
The second half we improved a little, we scored a goal and then missed a chance to score. After we missed a chance from the penalty and Oldham won the match. I can only say well done to Oldham.
I can also say I gave a chance to the players involved. They missed a chance.
The January window is one month and if there is the opportunity to buy somebody, I think the chairman is ready. I wanted to see the players not involved frequently. I didn’t see the desire, I didn’t see the passion of the Oldham players.
We need the fire, the passion, the blood. We need everything. We need everything if we want to be safe. That is the real problem. I know a lot of players new to play together and it makes it more difficult for them, but the desire to do something is important.
The Fulham boss confirmed that he had brought Mitrovic off the bench simply to take the penalty:
I said to him to shoot the penalty because he’s our man to shoot the penalty. What happened the last match we spoke and everything is OK.
Asked if Mitrovic would again get a chance from 12 yards in the future, Ranieri said:
Yes, of course.
Luciano Vietto (£5.4m) and Floyd Ayite (£4.3m) had particularly ineffectual games in attack, while Neeskens Kebano (£4.3m) wasted an excellent one-on-one chance in the second half on a rare start.
Jean Michael Seri‘s (£5.0m) struggles in central midfield also continued, with Ranieri explaining his decision to continue with the Ivorian over the likes of Kevin McDonald (£4.3m) and Stefan Johansen (£5.1m):
I wanted to continue with Seri and [Ibrahima] Cisse, that’s it.
Calum Chambers (£4.2m) returned to the Fulham starting XI after missing out on the defeat to Arsenal but was back at centre-half, having been deployed “out of position” in central midfield over the last couple of months.
Fulham XI (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Odoi, Chambers, Ream, Le Marchand; Cairney (Mitrovic 84′), Seri, Cisse; Ayite, Vietto, Kebano (Sessegnon 73′).
Newport County 2-1 Leicester City
A much-changed Leicester City side followed Fulham in being dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two opponents, falling to late 2-1 defeat to Newport County.
Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m), Harry Maguire (£5.4m), Ricardo Pereira (£5.3m) and Ben Chilwell (£5.1m) were among the players handed a breather by Claude Puel, while James Maddison (£6.8m) was only introduced as a half-time substitute with the Foxes 1-0 down.
Vardy was certainly missed in attack with Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.8m) and Shinji Okazaki (£5.2m) toothless up front, with Okazaki hooked at the break following his anonymous showing.
Puel bemoaned his side’s lack of cutting edge:
We had a lot of chances before conceding, we had a lot of chances in the first half and in the second half, but sometimes we didn’t have the clinical edge and we were sometimes unlucky.
Rachid Ghezzal (£5.1m), Okazaki and Maddison all wasted decent openings before Ghezzal levelled the scores up at 1-1 on 82 minutes, while Marc Albrighton (£5.1m) headed wide and was unfortunate to clip the bar with a dipping effort from distance.
Newport had chances of their own, though, with Danny Ward (£4.3m) called upon to make a couple of stops from Matthew Dolan after Jamille Matt had headed the hosts into an early lead.
Albrighton handled in the box late on to give Padraig Amond the chance to win the game from the spot, which the Newport forward took.
Puel didn’t offer any mitigation for his side’s defeat:
We have had a good team, with eight players who won the title, a lot of experienced players and quality on the pitch. We cannot have excuses to change or to put other players in. We had enough quality on the pitch to get the qualification. I don’t have excuses about this.
Matty James (£4.4m) made his long-awaited comeback from an Achilles injury, though looked off the pace and wouldn’t appear to be a contender for a league start in the short term.
Leicester City XI (4-4-2): Ward; Simpson (Gray 60′), Morgan, Evans, Fuchs; Ghezzal, James (King 72′), Choudhury, Albrighton; Okazaki (Maddison 46′), Iheanacho.
Woking 0-2 Watford
Watford’s second string comfortably got the better of their opponents from the National League South, running out 2-0 winners at Woking and carving out a succession of chances along the way.
Javi Gracia made 11 changes to his starting XI with Adalberto Penaranda (£5.0m) getting his first start for the Hornets and looking lively in attack, curling an early effort wide of home goalkeeper Craig Ross’s left-hand post.
Penaranda was paired in attack with Isaac Success (£4.6m), though the Nigerian was less impressive up top and – barring one saved shot in the first half – didn’t particularly cause Watford’s part-time opponents many problems.
Troy Deeney (£5.9m) came off the bench to replace Success and scored within three minutes, linking up with fellow substitute Ken Sema (£4.6m) to tap the Hornets into a 2-0 lead.
Tom Cleverley (£5.0m), Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah (both £4.4m) had a comfortable afternoon in midfield, as did Watford’s much-changed backline: Heurelho Gomes (£4.3m) having only two shots to save, both of which came from distance.
Cleverley hit the bar for the visitors, while full-back Adam Masina (£4.3m) also had an effort cleared off the line.
Will Hughes (£4.9m) scored his first goal since returning from a hip injury, curling Watford into an early lead after Masina worked a corner short.
Jose Holebas (£4.8m), Roberto Pereyra (£6.3m), Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.9m) and Gerard Deulofeu (£5.5m) were among the Watford assets handed a breather for this contest.
Gracia said of his side’s display:
I think it was a good performance. We played with some players who have not been playing in the last games, but I was sure they were the best option for us, the best chance because we knew it will be demanding game, like it has been, and we are happy with the performance and the result as well.
Watford XI (4-3-3): Gomes; Janmaat, Wilmot, Britos, Masina; Chalobah, Quina, Cleverley; Hughes (Navarro 80′), Penaranda (Sema 71′), Success (Deeney 71′).
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