Recent Posts

Get new posts by email

FA Cup fourth round: 10 talking points from the weekend action

Billy Sharp is 34 next month. He has not scored since the opening day. But he produced a performance of revved-up, state-of-the-art centre-forward play at the Den, finding interesting spaces and standing out as a luminous presence during a muted game. Sharp has been around for therefore long it’d be assumed his game would be all about the narrow areas on the brink of goal at this stage. Not so here. The run to form space for Mo Besic’s opening goal was a bit of instinctive footballing art. sometimes Sharp stood on the touchline and let his midfield flood past. It isn’t hard to ascertain why United fans and indeed their manager are so keen on a player who showed here Chris Wilder’s coaching and his eye for unusual movement are eagerly received. Sharp has another year left on his contract. He looks good for it, a lesson in old dogs taking over new tricks. judi bola

• Match report: Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

“The last thought in my head as a i’m going to sleep tonight are going to be ‘what if’,” acknowledged Oxford’s manager, Karl Robinson, after Marcus Browne, his Middlesbrough loanee forward, missed a really presentable chance to book a fifth-round place. “Browny’s such a talent but his finishing is useless.” Such unvarnished honesty is rare among carefully PR-tutored Premier League managers but this was each day for candour with both Robinson and Steve Bruce admitting they might have much preferred extra-time and/or penalties to an energy-sapping replay. That match might be worth £500,000 to Oxford but they’re chasing promotion and Robinson says his players are “at breaking point”. Bruce, meanwhile, was furious to ascertain his winter break plans ruined. “It was alleged to be every week off,” he said. “But what’s the purpose if they shove replays in. It’s ridiculous.” Louise Taylor

• Match report: Newcastle 0-0 Oxford

When Southampton signed Sofiane Boufal for a then club-record £16m almost four years ago, the attacking midfielder was seen as a coup but the Moroccan has largely flattered to deceive. Boufal spent last season on loan with Celta Vigo but stepped off the bench against Spurs to rifle in his fifth Southampton goal and a primary for 721 days. That equaliser earned Saints a replay and stirred memories of his wonderful solo strikes against West Brom, in October 2017, and Sunderland, a year earlier. Brilliant as those were, it’s time for Boufal to deliver on a daily basis. “Even if he’s not playing from the start , i do know he can always have an honest impact on the sport ,” said Ralph Hasenhüttl, Southampton’s manager. “Sofiane is a crucial player. If he understands what it’s about, working 90 minutes against the ball, i feel he would have more chances [to start].” Ben Fisher

• Match report: Southampton 1-1 Tottenham

The idea of the FA Cup as “a great leveller” is one among English football’s hoariest cliches, yet at Shrewsbury a veteran central-defensive duo comprising a World Cup finalist and a Champions League winner got the fright of their lives by a frontline made entirely of lower-league journeymen.