Aston Villa have wrestled my imaginary FA Cup baton from West Bromwich Albion at the Quarter-final stage of this year’s competition. Tim Sherwood’s men marched into the an FA Cup semi-final to face either Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers, who replay on Wednesday 8 April live on BT Sport, after their recent 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Sherwood seems to have galvanised the Birmingham club as they snatched two important victories over near neighbours West Brom within the space of a week, followed by a comprehensive rout of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last Saturday. The results in the Premier League being potentially the more important.
However, the chance of FA Cup glory is not something to be taken lightly. The last time Villa got through to this stage of the FA Cup
Updated 15th March 2015 at 07:56 PM by Veritas
As I understand it, if you walk into a chippie and ask for one of each, it’s shorthand for ordering fish and chips.
In this case, one of each refers to three items – a home win, an away win and a draw – so the equivalent of ordering mushy peas as an accompaniment to your haddock supper.
Looking at Saturday's fixtures in the Premier League, the following is my attempt at ‘one of each’:
Crystal Palace v Queens Park Rangers
Predicting Queens Park Rangers to lose away from home is hardly ground breaking as they have only avoided defeat once on the road all season at struggling Sunderland.
The atmosphere at Selhurst Park is always bouncing and, under Alan Pardew, the Eagles are a tough test for any side, let alone
Updated 12th March 2015 at 08:23 PM by Veritas
In 2013/14, Everton finished fifth with a new club record haul of 72 Premier League points and saw average attendances at Goodison Park take another positive step in the right direction – some 4,500 more than where they were as recently as 2011/12.
Fast forward 12 months and even if the Toffees were to win all of their remaining 10 top-flight fixtures – which is highly unlikely – they would still only end the campaign with 58 points to their name.
Where has it all gone wrong?
by Ben Sutherland
Roberto Martinez – a man heralded as a coaching legend after building upon David Moyes’ foundations – is still at the helm while few alterations have been made
Updated 11th March 2015 at 03:46 PM by Veritas
Please note that I have made my judgements before the midweek fixtures, so it will be important to check out the results to see if there are any pointers to a team’s change in form, key injuries, suspensions and so on.
But, as it stands, this is how I see the weekend's FA Cup ties panning out....
Bradford City v Reading, Saturday 7 March (Kick-off 12:45pm)
Having beaten Chelsea and Sunderland already this season in the competition, I can’t back against Bradford City.
Perversely, Reading are likely to give the Bantams a much tougher game and could easily take the game or earn a replay.
However, Reading have lost nine on the road this season in the Championship, leaking 33 goals in the process.
But, and it’s a big but, in the
Updated 5th March 2015 at 09:01 AM by Veritas
My team to follow in the last round of the FA Cup was West Bromwich Albion and, after they saw off West Ham United in a convincing 4-0 victory in the 5th round, the honour remains with the Baggies as we enter the quarter-final stage of the competition.
It doesn’t seem long since I was previewing the titanic West Midlands FA Cup clash between West Brom and Birmingham City and now we have another Midlands derby in store as the Albion travel to Aston Villa who are now under the stewardship of new boss Tim Sherwood.
Both clubs have had success in the FA Cup but in the case of the Baggies you have to go back to 1968 for their last triumph. Albion had previously lifted the trophy on four occasions.
Villa meanwhile have lifted the iconic trophy seven times,
By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)
Five Premier League games kick-off this week at the traditional 3.00 pm (GMT) Saturday time slot. Below are my predictions. They are very ambitious after last week’s super flop, I know, but hey, fortune favours the brave!
Burnley v Swansea City
Since the beginning of December, Burnley have drawn three home league games.
The other four games in that period have been decided by just one goal in either direction, suggesting that Turf Moor encounters are always tight affairs.
Meanwhile Swansea City, fresh from completing the double over Manchester United, will be expecting something from the game having had tight wins on the road at Southampton and Hull City in the corresponding period.
Updated 26th February 2015 at 04:33 PM by Veritas
By Matt Harris
Realistically, every club in the bottom eight of the Premier League table is presently facing a relegation battle.
That’s 12th place Everton down to the bottom three of Aston Villa, Burnley and Leicester City.
The clubs in between are Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Hull City and Queens Park Rangers.
So what do the stats say about league’s most threatened teams?
Are the Magpies safe?
Newcastle United sit five points clear of Everton in 11th place with 32 points.
The Magpies seem to be constantly on the brink of disaster, but at the moment it looks like they will do enough to stay in the top division before hiring a new manager in the summer.
Various bookmakers see Leicester
Updated 20th February 2015 at 11:38 AM by Veritas
By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)
I was reading about an electrician in his 30s who won £74,844 last Saturday which has inspired me to pick four matches for this weekend in which an away win looks likely.
The Scarborough-based punter (who wishes to remain anonymous) placed a £5 bet on six matches on Coral’s Winning Ways coupon on Saturday, waking up to a £74,844 win.
Well, I’m not ambitious enough to predict six games, so won’t be winning anyone enough to buy a holiday home in Spain – but maybe a set of new pans for the kitchen or an interesting water feature for the garden isn't out of the question!
Brentford v AFC Bournemouth
The Bees seem to have been destabilised in recent matches by speculation over the future of
Updated 19th February 2015 at 07:49 PM by Veritas
With many of the favored teams already knocked out of the world's greatest cup competition, half of the weekend's FA Cup 5th round ties being spread across Saturday afternoon presents an intriguing prospect for a rewarding fourfold.
West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United
Despite being a cup game, it's likely each team's differing league ambitions will have a major influence on this tie. While the visitors sit comfortably in the higher reaches of the top division, Baggies minds are firmly fixed on the essential Premier League survival.
Albion will be encouraged by a New Year's Day draw in East London when manager-in-waiting Tony Pulis looked on from the Upton Park stands.
However, as the Hammers can boast a 2-1 league win at The Hawthorns as recently as two months ago
Updated 13th February 2015 at 08:53 AM by Veritas
By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)
My hypothetical blogger’s FA Cup baton didn’t stay long in the hands of Birmingham City as they immediately handed it over to local rivals West Bromwich Albion in the last round of the competition.
The draw, made by Gary Lineker live on the BBC’s One Show, set up a meeting of the West Midlands club and their East London Premier League rivals West Ham United.
Both clubs have had success in the FA Cup, in the case of the Baggies you have to go back to 1968 for their last triumph, when a Jeff Astle goal three minutes into extra time saw off Everton.
Albion had previously lifted the trophy in 1888, 1892, 1931 and 1954. Their most recent victory
Updated 12th February 2015 at 08:47 AM by Veritas