Five talking points from FA Cup weekend as Nottingham Forest stun Leicester
If anyone thought their elimination of Arsenal was a fluke, Nottingham Forest underlined that it was nothing of the sort with a barnstorming 4-1win over another top-flight opponent in Leicester City in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.
Forest were irresistible as they raced into a 3-0 lead inside 32 minutes, albeit helped by some meek defending. Although Kelechi Iheanacho clawed one back for holders Leicester before half-time, wing-back Djed Spence, one of the stars of Forest’s cup run, restored their cushion.
After years of turbulence, World Cup-winning former England Under-17 coach Steve Cooper seems to be turning the Midlands club into a team to be feared. They face Championship rivals Huddersfield in round five and look strong shouts for a play-off place at least.
Lampard charms Toffees in cup win
Maybe it’s simply because he isn’t Rafa Benitez or Vitor Pereira, but Frank Lampard appears to have already won over the Everton fanbase.
Goodison Park was draped in banners saying “Best Of Luck, Frank” and reverberated to the sound of his name as the hosts swatted away Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
That 4-1 win was the best debut of any Everton manager, and there have certainly been a few lately – Lampard is the ninth in the last 10 years.
It wasn’t just the scoreline; the way the Toffees played, with attacking intent and a hint of swagger, also endeared the new regime to the home faithful.
Lampard, too, looked energised to be back in top-level management a year after his sacking by Chelsea.
Next up: fellow strugglers Newcastle United in a huge midweek Premier League fixture.
Chelsea stay in hunt for five cups
They made heavy weather of it – needing extra-time to see off a Plymouth Argyle side who missed a 118th-minute penalty – but now the dust has settled on the FA Cup fourth round Chelsea remain in contention for a possible quintuple.
The Premier League is perhaps a forlorn hope but the Blues are in the Carabao Cup final later this month, with the latter stages of the Champions League and FA Cup to come.
This week they could pick up their first silverware of the season at the Club World Cup, although they flew out without manager Thomas Tuchel, who has Covid-19.
Kane and Spurs starting to click
Is Harry Kane back, following his two goals in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Brighton on Saturday night?
Having laboured even more than usual at the season, taking until mid-October to register his first Premier League strike, his double at the weekend took him past 20 in all competitions.
Seven of those have come in the last 11 games, as Antonio Conte’s Spurs tenure has begun to gather momentum, and his first against Brighton was a beauty.
On Wednesday he will fancy his chances of continuing that form against Southampton, having hit 10 in his last nine games against the Saints.
Hodgson stops the rot at Watford
It took Roy Hodgson just one game to do what the four previous Watford managers had failed to do: keep a clean sheet in the Premier League.
Hodgson’s Hornets, who averaged two goals conceded per game so far this season, held Burnley to a 0-0 draw in a relegation six-pointer at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Tightening up a leaky defence was always going to be top of the priority list for the fastidious former England boss, and the top flight’s winter break gave him extra time on the training ground in which to drill his new charges.
The next task is to climb out of the bottom three, but just a point behind Norwich and with a game in hand, only a fool would bet against the league’s oldest manager.