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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Sunday Preview & Open Thread

Written by on March 12, 2011 | 30 Comments »
Posted in General

FA Cup

Stoke v West Ham

On Sunday we have the last of three all Premier League ties at the quarter finals stage with Stoke is at home to West Ham. West Ham have shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks while Stoke have struggled at times. Last weekend in the Premier League West Ham beat Stoke 3-0 at Upton Park.

West Ham have gone through a remarkable metamorphosis with goals now flowing with a consistency that few would have predicted ten weeks ago.

They have scored three goals or more in their last four matches and in six of their last 7.

Meanwhile Stoke have a couple of players who have made it a habit to score in FA Cup matches recently.  Jonathan Walters has scored three goals in his last three FA Cup appearances while John Carew has scored eight goals in his last nine.

Stoke will be banking on a solid home record to see them through. Only one of the last 18 teams to visit the Britannia Stadium in the FA Cup has scored more than once against Stoke and they are unbeaten in six home matches in all competitions in 2011.

Manchester City v Reading

The final match of the round has Manchester City playing host to Championship side Reading. While City cruised through the last round against Aston Villa, Reading pulled off a surprise win away to Everton.

Manchester City are looking to reach the semi final of the FA Cup for first time since 1980. Although they lost 2-0 away to Dynamo Kiev on Thursday City does have a stellar home record – they have won nine and drawn the other of their last ten home games.

While Manchester City looks to consolidate their position in the top four of the Premier League, Reading will have to look to the play-off system in order to have any chance to regain the position in the Premier League they held a few years ago.

At moment they are outside the promotion play-off position but are within striking distance.

At this stage of the FA Cup last season Reading led Aston Villa 2-0 at half time but eventually lost 4-2.  This season Manchester City have needed replays before disposing of lower level opposition in the shape of Leicester City and Notts County already this season. If Reading can take Manchester City to a replay it will be considered a successful day out.


Eoin – West Ham and Manchester City

Bobby – Stoke and Manchester City


Roma v Lazio

It has been a terrific season for Lazio while with Roma you get a feeling that it might all implode at any moment.

Compared to last season Lazio have picked up 25 more points than they had at this stage last season. Their 51 points has them five points ahead of Roma and just two points behind 3rd place Napoli.

Solid defending has been the foundation of Lazio’s relative success this season.  With only 23 goals conceded in 28 games this season only Milan with 20 against have allowed fewer.

However, key Brazilian centre back Dias missed last week and is a major doubt for the derby.

The first match this season in Serie A finished with a 2-0 win for Roma – Roma also won 2-1 in the Coppa. Should Roma complete a hat trick of wins then it will be the first league double by either side since Roma did it in 2001/02.

Parma v Napoli

Napoli appear to running out of gas with a loss (Milan) and a draw (home to second from bottom Brescia) in their last two Serie A matches and a loss to Villarreal in the Europa League.

The good news is Ezequiel Lavezzi will return after a three match ban. Napoli are in third two points ahead of Lazio but perhaps the team to be more concerned about is Udinese who are just a point behind Lazio.

Parma are the draw specialists in Serie A this season with 11 in total and they are only a point above the last relegation spot. They may have only lost 3 home games this season but they have won only 4 with 7 games drawn. What is more they have only scored 13 goals in 14 home games.

La Liga

Sevilla v Barcelona

A few seasons ago a visit to Sevilla was enough to worry the best of teams. Not so much the case anymore. Sevilla are no longer Champions League material and losing to Braga in the qualifying group stage earlier this season choked off the cash flow needed to lift and improve the squad.

In fact the two time winners of the UEFA Cup failed to make it past the last 32 stage this season going out to Porto on the away goals rule.

Sitting 8th and 12 points behind Villarreal who sit fourth and in the last  Champions League Sevilla’s target at the moment is to qualify for next season’s Europa League.  The good news is they are only trail 5th place Athletic Bilbao by three points at present.

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30 responses to “Sunday Preview & Open Thread”

  1. redfan says:

    Go Reading! Depending on who City has fit I wonder how they will handle an agressive Reading side after the Russian hangover.
    Could be close one but I will go with Reading even if I am the only one on the planet.
    Stoke at home? Usually unbeatable but after Tony Pulis likened his squad to stock bought at the Battersea dogs home I wonder if his team will turn up tomorrow. West Ham for me but it will be a good old fashioned cup scrap with a replay a possibility.

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    @ GRANT –
    “I pick Bolton to win the FA Cup though. Then Owen Coyle for next manager of the Red Devils.”

    And should Bolton get knocked out at the semis and finish outta the top 10, will you then jump off the Coyle bandwagon?

    I think Coyle will lose his shine by end of next season, not to mention that the real talent such as Klasnic and Lee were brought in by Megson.

  3. Grant says:

    If Bolton fail to progress that will have no effect on Coyle’s reputation or my respect for him. He has been able to motivate every team he has managed in Scotland and England into over-achieving while playing confident, open football. Burnley also had a great cup run while still in the Championship.

    Who bought the players is irrelevant. Megson bought Elmander, too. It was Coyle who clearly gave him the confidence to find the goal again.

    Clearly, Coyle is a great man manager. He is Scottish, he is young. Just who Man U needs to shepherd them in the post-Fergie era.

    I don’t really think Bolton will win the cup (Man U will of course), but I hope Bolton does so that Coyle can have that on his resume and also get some European experience. Otherwise he is unlikely to get the United job that I think he would be great for.

  4. Grant says:


    Did you see my FA Cup suggestion in the Saturday thread? What do you think of “immunity” from relegation if you win the Cup?

  5. Gus Keri says:


    Be careful what to wish for.

    As a red fan, you want both Manchester clubs to reach the FA cup final. If any of them, through losing or through the luck of the draw, failed to reach the final, the sixth place finisher, probably Liveprool, in the league will not qualify to the Europa league next year.

    At that point, the only way you will see Liverpool in the Europa league next year is by winning it this year.

  6. redfan says:

    Gus _ I know what you mean and the need is for us to push for 5th whilst it remains mathmatically possible. Spurs are the weakness so with their CL commitments who knows, we might get a break.
    It is a pity that winning the CL does not give us an extra berth as that would make the battle to qualify that much more interesting if the Mancs or Chelsea win it.
    As is, we lost just about everything under Roy Hodgson and so many losses left us a deficit that was always going to be three losses too many to come back from. If we were 9 points better off right now we would be in serious contention for the 4th place.

    As is, I hold up little hope of any consistancy this season with so many injuries and a distinct lack of quality in key places. What we can achieve this season is qualify for Europa and I hope we do, but until the summer comes when we can strengthen the backline and midfield and offload the ‘also rans’ in the squad, I fear we could be left fighting for the EPL and domestic cups next year. Talk is that up to 10 players could leave the club in summer but we will see what John Henry does, as much for next season hinges on his wisdom come summer. If he signs Kenny up for two or three years then I have hope we will compete even next year for top honours, however if a new manager comes in, we will have to wait at least another year whilst he acclimatises and gets to grips with the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. I for one prefer Kenny to signed on asap and allow the already growing stability to be reinforced. As is the players do not know who they will be playing for next year which is just maintaining the uncertainty that has plagues the club for the last two years. We can only hope.

  7. Gus Keri says:


    I don’t see Liverpool going on spending spree this summer. There might be few additions but not the type of signing that transform the team.

    In general, John Henrt’s method is more about building up than by importing. Also, with the new financial rules to be applied soon, he will be cautous.

    Only a complete melt down will see Dalglish out. I think he is going to be there for the next few years.

  8. Gus Keri says:

    Totti – Lazio: 2-0

  9. Soccerlogical says:

    GRANT – IMO, Megson wasn’t given time to gel his squad like Avram Grant at West Ham. With the players Coyle inherited, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be competing for a EL spot and not playing long ball. It’s similar to calling McCarthy a great manger if he manages to keep Wolves up with the likes of Hunt, Jarvis, Milijas, Kightly, Doyle and O’Hara.

    Coyle jumped ship on Burnley midseason in their first year of promotion because he clearly was INCAPABLE of keeping them in the EPL. At Bolton he inherited a great GK, sold defenders like Steinesson and Cahill and a bunch of creative players and goalscorers. I am much more impressed with McLeish’s achievements (especially of Birmingham stay up).

  10. SL – Megson was there over 2 years and Bolton played a long ball game throughout that time. Then you point out that with players Coyle inherited he should not playing a long ball game which generally he hasn’t. But Megson should have been given more time when he had Bolton in relegation trouble but Coyle moves them up the table but you give him no credit. Is it just me or are you not sucking and blowing here? I find your logic very confusing.

  11. Bolton v Stoke and Manchester derby (in prospect) – FA Cup semi final draw just confirmed

  12. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – I meant that Coyle is not playing long ball as ther is no need to do so with the players he has. Don’t get me wrong, I am no admirer of Megson but if I am not mistaken, Megson bought most of the key players like Klasnic and Lee in his last transfer window and was then given the sack without time to gel them, maybe I am wrong.

    My point is that with the players Coyle inherited there is no reason for anybody to even mention him for a job at a top club as he is simply doing what any decent manager should do with a very good GK, defenders and attacking options.

  13. Grant says:

    Is no one going to comment on my idea of guaranteed safety from relegation / promotion to the EPL if you win the FA Cup?

    I see this as the best way of encouraging the lesser teams to have a go. It is the likes of Aston Villa playing their second string that disrespect the cup. The Big 4 can rotate their squad and still play name players and give most teams a game.

  14. Gus Keri says:

    The FA cup draw is bad news for Liverpool.

    Either Bolton or Stoke (or, less likely, Reading) will be in the Europa leage next year.

    I will miss the European nights at Anfield next season.

  15. Gus Keri says:


    I heard Lehmann is back to Arsenal. Is it true?

  16. Gus Keri says:


    The problem with your proposal is that you denies a promotion spot to a team that finished in top three after playing a hard and long season (46 games in the championship for example) to give it to a team that played only 6 round of cup competition.

  17. Grant – interesting suggestion and another to toss into the mix. It would fix the “Villa” type problem but it would not encourage the others to filed their strongest teams possible.

  18. redfan says:

    If Reading keep on giantkilling, who knows what pair might contest the FA cup final. All said and done City should win today and one of the Manchester clubs should win the final…..I hope.

    We won the Calcutta Cup yay!
    Bobby, Scotland turned up and made England sweat for their 22-16 win.

    All that an some plus temps in Wpg next week. Spring is in the air………..

  19. Gus Keri says:

    There is one other scenario where 6th place finisher qualifies to the Europa league.

    If Man City wins the FA cup and finish 5th in the league.

  20. Gus Keri says:

    To recap:

    There are three possibilites for Liverpool to play in the next year Europa league:

    1- win this year Europa league
    2- finish 5th in the EPL
    3- finish 6th in the EPL, in combination with Man City winning the FA cup and finishing 5th in the EPL

    Let’s start praying for a miracle.

  21. Russell Berrisford says:

    Gus- might it not in some ways be better in the long term for L’pool not to qualify for the Europa league next season?

    If they think that they can push for a top four spot next season then it would give them fresher players at the end of the campaign.

  22. Gus Keri says:


    This is one way to look at it.

    But I don’t think playing in the Europa league would hinder their attempt at getting back to top 4 position.

    On the contrary, playing in Europe would help in improving the harmony among the players and giving the bench players more playing time, so they would be ready to replace any injured player.

  23. Europa League is not the CL but it is still Europe.

  24. Gus – I remember reading a piece a couple of weeks ago. I think it might have been on the Bundesliga website. My understanding is that he is at Arsenal as part of his coaching badge requirements – sort of job experience component!

  25. redfan says:

    People denegrate the Europa league but there are some good sides in it once the comp gets down the last 16 and it is a good way of keeping the squad Euro fit and experienced for an assault on the CL the season after. I do hope we are in it next year as the CL is unattainable now.

  26. Gus Keri says:


    It might be only media talk (Daily Mail) but there is no smoke without fire.

  27. Gus Keri says:

    Sevilla – Barcelona: 1-1

    By far the best game of the weekend.
    Unbelievable stuff from Sevilla.

  28. Gus – Daily Mail? I think you need to fill me in on what the talk is.

  29. The return of the Great-Goalkeeping-Diva!

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