Following on my blog prior to the round 3 game against Shrewsbury Town and whether there is any magic left in the FA Cup.
We are now at Round 4 with an away tie against a good Wigan team.
So is it time to take the cup serious yet or go into the game the same as Shrewsbury away? In that game, Shrewsbury were the better side and we left probably not deserving a draw.
Our team that day included Burke & Cullen recently brought back from loan but apart from that the team were all established players but we were missing Noble, Lanzini & Arnarnavic who had all been key to our good form.
The team should have been too strong for our League 1 opposition.
The problem was, we were slow, sat back and didn’t just go for it.
The strikers were isolated and our main concentration was defending.
This resulted in a 0-0 draw which although it seemed to suit us that we hadn’t been embarrassed by a loss, it also added another game to our depleted squad.
That game was on Sunday 7th Jan so we had 6 days until our next premiership game at Huddersfield. Following that excellent performance, we had the replay against Shrewsbury the following Tuesday.
We went into the replay, at home under lights. Surely, we would just get the job done and look forward to the next round.
With the next premiership game 4 days away against Bournemouth at home.
Moyes options that night were:-
- Start with a strong team, get the game won early and take players off
- Play a mixed team of youth and some key players, resting others.
Moyes selection was option 2
Burke, Cullen, Oxford & Martinez all started with key player Lanzini added as our main threat.
On the bench was Arnautovic, Noble & Zabaleta and youth players.
Like the first game, putting a number of players into a team that do not play together regularly results in a dysfunctional performance and that’s exactly what it was.Noble & Arnautovic came on at 69 mins and Zabaleta came on for extra time
What should have been an easy game resulted in Lanzini and some other playing 120 minutes
Noble and Arnautovic playing 51 minutes from the bench.
In hindsight should we have started with the best team available including Noble & Arnautovic and carried on from the Huddesfield game? Always subjective but
If we would have gone 2 or 3 up, players could have been taken off. The game may have only gone to 90 minutes saving the players not taken off 30 minutes playing time.
Going forward to the Bournemouth game – Lanzini injured, would this have happened if he had only played 90 mins or 70 mins after being taken off when the team was 3 up?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but not playing the best team or going for it changed a 3rd round tie against league one position from 90 mins to 210 minutes.
FA Cup Round 4
Moyes has to ask himself very similar questions although due to the injuries now the situation is worse than round 3.
But does he go with the best team available? This time he probably has no option without playing a total team of U23’s
Will the tactics be to sit back and try and win on the break? This could backfire like round 3 and we could find we finish with another replay fixture added to our schedule.
Do we just go for it and hope that our premiership class shines through?
That would be my opinion, let’s try and get the job done in one attempt and if things do not go well then, we gave it a good go and respected the FA Cup competition.
The FA Cup should be a big part of our season as it is a big part of our history.
At what round do we all take it more serious and not treat it as a game we didn’t want in the first place?
Maybe at the same round when we all start thinking about the final and how we are going to get tickets. But to get to that stage we have to play the previous rounds and win first.
Do Managers and Players still have bonus targets for winning the FA CUP or is the only key of success not being relegated. Surely we need something else to aspire to each season and not always look for a reason to dismiss the cups. So let’s hope that this is just an easy win and we can discuss again prior to Round 5
-To Be Continued?