31st January 2017: FA & EFL Cup

West Ham Shirt Offer

James: After the sale of Dimitri Payet to Marseille, something all West Ham fans, players and owners deemed the biggest betrayal in their history, Karen Brady announced that fans could return their Payet shirts in return for a new one – for £25. Now, many on twitter were outraged by the fact that they had to pay for a new shirt after what Payet did and the amount of money the club have earned from the transfer. If you ask me, this is a pretty generous offer! The amount shirts go for these days, £25 for a replacement is not bad considering players always come and go, and Payet leaving West Ham isn’t the biggest surprise. Not too sure what fans are complaining about…

Sam: I think that although £25 for a replica shirt is a good deal in football nowadays, West Ham could have dealt with things a little better in my opinion. Payet signed a £1 million loyalty bonus in the summer which he has just gone back on, so why doesn’t the want-away Frenchman give that back to the club and the Hammers use that money to refund fans shirts until it runs out, then implement the £25 deal. It seems only fair considering he was on the verge of becoming a cult hero until a few weeks ago. West Ham United as a club, which includes the fans, players, manager and board directors, are all the victims in this situation.

Lincoln and Sutton Cup Runs

James: Lincoln and Sutton fans must be pinching themselves after two great Cup runs which will see them play Premier League sides Burnley (a) and Arsenal (h) respectively. It’s going to be a great occasion for both clubs, and they deserve a good draw and a great day against two of the top 20 sides in the country. The FA Cup continues to produce great moments, and the magic lives on! I don’t believe the love for the FA Cup is lost everywhere, although many clubs don’t take it as seriously as they do the league. However, Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City have been fielding strong sides in the Cup, suggesting they respect it more than people think. I’m looking forward to seeing how the non-leaguers do in the next round of fixtures!

Sam: What I like about these two teams’ runs is that they have gone under the radar a little bit until now. I was very surprised by Lincoln’s result against Brighton, as although the Seagulls have higher ambitions on their radar, they have a big enough lead from the chasing pack in the Championship to play a strong enough side in the cup. Sutton were lucky that Leeds are part of that chasing pack, but surely they won’t be able to get past Arsenal, even if the Gunners play their Under-23s. 7-0 Arsenal, Yaya Sanogo hattrick.

EFL Cup Semi-Finals

James: Southampton were brilliant over the two legs against Liverpool, and definitely deserve their place in that final. It’s a huge occasion for a club who really deserve it. The way they run their club, constantly churning out new, young, English talent, and always replace their managers who leave for supposedly ‘bigger’ opportunities. They’re a properly run club who deserve success to grow the clubs reputation so they can keep their better players. In terms of Man Utd, they were poor in the second leg against Hull who fought brilliantly, but a Cup win could definitely reignite that winning mentality they need to go and really challenge for League titles and get back into the European big-time with the leading clubs they deserve to be competing against.

Sam: I like Southampton as a football club. They play entertaining football, do their business in the right way and regularly bring through youngsters into the first team. They absolutely deserved to go to Wembley over 180 minutes. Liverpool were too tentative, they didn’t do enough in the first leg, and then never really went full throttle to overturn their one goal deficit in the second leg. Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, knows that both he and Manchester United need trophies this season. He’s a very good cup manager; he knows how to rest players and keep his first team’s momentum going at the same time. Hull were unfortunate but they have bigger fish to fry this season. The bottom three is very congested at the moment following big wins from the relegation candidates, so there’s everything to play for on that front. The way they played in the second leg though will be a good sign for Marco Silva.

January Transfer Window

James: There’s not too much to say considering none of the top clubs really needed to strengthen. We’re at that stage where the Premier League has had so much money that even the worst clubs have very decent squads, and finding better replacements is hard to come by in January. At the moment, it’s the managers who need to get the best out of their players, and not get better players. I thought Tottenham or Liverpool would have strengthened however, as a squad not an XI. Both seem a bit light when they have injuries, and one or two extra squad players would help them out a lot this season. Everton have probably made the best signing by bringing in Schneiderlin, who’s reunited with his old manager Koeman.

Sam: There’s no real world class talent available in January and the biggest moves so far this window (writing at 8.20pm on Deadline Day) have been ‘old news’. Saido Berahino has been on the move since 2014 while Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin were out the door when United couldn’t get a buyer for them in the summer window. It says a lot when the biggest deal of the day will be Scott Hogan from Brentford to Aston Villa.

Liverpools Form

James: Whatever I say could seem stupid as Liverpool may have beaten Chelsea by the time this is published, but I want to give my opinion before that particular game. Only because I think Klopp’s side may be suffering from fatigue and a lack of squad depth coming in and helping the regular XI players. I don’t think people should be too negative about their form. A top 4 finish and a good title challenge is huge improvement under the club who are now seen as one of the top English sides again. They’ve always been a huge club, but sides are beginning to be scared of them again like before, and that fear factor has been missing for a few years. That for me suggests Klopp is on the right track, no matter what’s happened this last year.

Sam: I’ve been saying this from the start of the season but Liverpool cannot win the league with the defence that they have. The Swansea and Wolves games were prime examples of this, the Reds looked so open at times it’s as if Klopp can’t see it through his spectacles. If you compare their defence to the other teams, if United get an injury to a defender they can bring in Chris Smalling; Chelsea can bring in John Terry; Arsenal can bring in Gabriel but Liverpool call up Trent Alexander-Arnold. There’s a lack of depth in the squad with too many youngsters in it. A win vs Chelsea would give them a lift but the form book will say otherwise.

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