Fulham force replay; Leeds & Leicester advance
The FA Cup fourth round kicked into full gear on Saturday after Manchester City and Arsenal’s curtain-raiser as sides dotted across England’s footballing pyramid battled out for a place in the competition’s last 16.
There were just 11 Premier League sides left in the draw – the fewest in any FA Cup fourth round since 2007/08 – but the division’s elite avoided upset. Fulham came closest to an early exit but forced a replay against Sunderland, as Leeds United and Leicester City both advanced.
It may have been a round lacking in top-flight departures, but there was plenty of intrigue in the latest edition of the world’s oldest cup competition.
Leeds made it into the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in seven years with a routine 3-1 victory away to League One Accrington Stanley.
Jack Harrison opened the scoring with a howitzer before Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra sealed victory with a quick-fire double in the second half. 18-year-old Leslie Adekoya became the youngest scorer in this season’s competition with a consolation goal 38 seconds after his late substitution.
Michael Flynn was furious this tie wasn’t broadcast on a major TV channel but Walsall’s sofa-bound fans were spared a high-definition view of their team’s 1-0 defeat to Leicester.
Kelechi Iheanacho continued his excellent form in the competition – netting his seventh goal in seven cup games (thanks to a hefty deflection) – after Youri Tielemans missed a second-half penalty for the comfortably superior visitors.
Jordan James snatched a fourth round replay for Birmingham City with a 91st-minute equaliser against fellow Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Blackburn are 14 places above their visitors in the second tier and recovered from an early opener to underline that advantage on the pitch with goals from Bradley Dack and Joe Rankin-Costello either side of the interval. However, James came off the bench to level the tie and force a replay at St Andrew’s.
A brace from Samuel Bell, sandwiching Alex Scott’s tap-in, sent Bristol City to a 3-0 victory over Championship foes West Bromwich Albion.
The Robins are now unbeaten in seven matches (W3 D4), condemning West Brom to consecutive defeats in the process.
Tom Cairney saved Fulham from a fourth-round upset on Saturday, slotting a silky second-half equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw against Championship side Sunderland.
Jack Clarke robbed a dozing Issa Diop to open the scoring after six minutes. Fulham piled forward in search of an equaliser, laying siege to Anthony Patterson’s goal with 12 shots on target while leaving the back door open for the visitors. The two sides combined for 39 shots in an end-to-end affair which will be replayed at the Stadium of Light in the coming weeks.
Third-tier Ipswich Town held Championship leaders Burnley to a goalless draw at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.
Vincent Kompany’s Clarets were denied a goal for just the third time in 33 games this season. Sitting third in League One, Ipswich are also vying for promotion and came closer to breaking the deadlock in a tight affair.
Championship side Luton Town duked out an entertaining draw with League Two strugglers Grimsby Town.
Goals from Luton’s Elijah Adebayo and Jordan Clark after the interval overturned Gavan Holohan’s first-half opener. However, Harry Clifton equalised within a minute, cancelling out the 57-place gap between the clubs at kick-off.
Sheffield Wednesday followed up their toppling of top-flight Newcastle United with a draw against Fleetwood Town, who sit 15 places below the Owls in League One.
Fleetwood had taken the scalp of second-tier Queens Park Rangers in the third round and the match-winner that day, Promise Omochere, opened the scoring at Hillsborough. The hosts rattled off a raft of shots but only steered one on target – which Jay Lynch comfortably saved.
Lynch was ultimately beaten but his own player, unable to prevent Josh Earl’s shanked clearance from exploding into the roof of Fleetwood’s net.
Southampton condemned Mick McCarthy to defeat on his debut in the Blackpool dugout thanks to a brace from Romain Perraud.
The left-back became the first Saints player not called James Ward-Prowse to score a direct free-kick since 2018 (per Opta) before doubling Southmapton’s lead after the break. Arsenal loanee Charlie Patino halved the deficit but couldn’t avoid defeat.
McCarthy has now lost his last nine matches in management, stretching back to his previous post in charge of Cardiff City in the autumn of 2021.
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Tottenham director Fabio Paratici banned from football worldwide by FIFA
Tottenham managing director of football Fabio Paratici has been banned from football worldwide after FIFA extended the punishment imposed in Italy following his involvement in Juventus’ penalised accounting practices.
In January, the Italian giants suffered a shock 15-point deduction after the club was deemed to have inflated player transfer values in swap deals among other financial offences.
Paratici joined the Juventus hierarchy in 2010 and was the club’s sporting director between November 2018 and the summer of 2021, before he took up a similar role at Tottenham. The investigation into Juve’s accounts scrutinised transactions between 2019 and 2021 – when Paratici was at the heart of the club’s dealings.
At the start of the year, Paratici was one of several former Juventus board members that were banned from football following the conclusion of the investigation by the Italian Football Federation. Initially, Paratici was handed a 30-month ban from just Italian football, although the threat of extending the scope of that punishment internationally always loomed.
On Wednesday, FIFA released a statement confirming that they had indeed taken up that option, extending the ban handed out to Paratici and the other Juventus board members – including former owner Andrea Agnelli – worldwide.
The statement read: “FIFA can confirm that following a request by the Italian FA (FIGC), the chairperson of FIFA disciplinary committee has decided to extend the sanctions imposed by FIGC on several football officials to have worldwide effect.”
Paratici was due to be in court this week for a a preliminary committal hearing regarding a portion of the charges levelled at Juve, but the date for those proceedings have been shunted back to 10 May. Juve appealed their 15-point penalty – which the prosecution only recommended as a nine-point punishment – and will hear the ruling of which on 19 April.
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss Julian Nagelsmann’s future and links to the vacant Tottenham head coach role, Barcelona’s ambition to bring Lionel Messi ‘home’, Brighton teenager Evan Ferguson, Florian Wirtz, Kalvin Phillips and more!
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Sir Alex Ferguson & Arsene Wenger inducted into Premier League Hall of Fame
Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have become the first managers to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.
The duo won 16 Premier League titles between them across respective long-term spells with Manchester United and Arsenal.
With 13 of those championships, Ferguson is the most decorated manager in the history of the competition. He is the only coach to have won the Premier League three times in a row, doing so on two different occasions.
Ferguson said: “I’m truly delighted to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame. It’s an honour when you receive recognition like this. However, it’s not just about me as a person. It’s about the job at Manchester United and the bond we had over many years, so I’m also proud for the club, the staff and my players.
“My job was to send the fans home happy. United’s history and my own expectations were the things that drove me, and I then had to try and develop all my players with the same expectations and make sure we could go out and achieve them.
“I feel Arsene is a very worthy inductee as he transformed Arsenal Football Club fantastically. They became a tough team to compete with and we both wanted to win, which motivated us further. Through the years since retirement, we’d go for dinner together in a little restaurant he knows well in Switzerland. He is a really interesting man and I enjoy his company, but it is still my job to pick the wine!”
Wenger arrived in England in 1996 as one of the Premier League’s first foreign coaches, and quickly proved sceptics wrong, transforming Arsenal into title winners and changing English football’s culture with his scouting and dietary expertise.
The Frenchman won three Premier League titles with Arsenal, including an unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04.
Wenger said: “I am very grateful to have been selected for the Premier League Hall of Fame. We always wanted to give something special to the fans and when you have players capable of remarkable things, the most important thing for me is the obligation of perfection.
“I’d like to be known as someone who loved Arsenal, who respected the values of the club and left it in a position where it can grow and become even bigger.
“To share this with Sir Alex is a great honour for me. It’s like two boxers, you fight like mad and go the distance together. At the end of the day, you have respect and it will be a great opportunity to meet with him, share a good bottle of wine and memories of our old battles.”
In addition to Ferguson and Wenger, there are 16 other inductees in the Premier League Hall of Fame.
Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry were the first two people inducted when the Hall of Fame was created in 2021. They were followed later that year by Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.
In 2022, Wayne Rooney, Patrick Vieira, Sergio Aguero, Didier Drogba, Vincent Kompany, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes and Ian Wright were inducted.
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