FA Cup fifth round: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Connor Goldson and Ethan Ampadu showed their worth, Mauricio Pellegrino’s taxigate sympathy and Coventry must not be forgotten Amid the focus on Brighton’s first quarter-final appearance for 32 years and an impressive first outing for Jürgen Locadia, Chis Hughton was keen to hail one of his team’s more unsung heroes. Connor Goldson scored a well-directed header in the first half and it was the centre-back’s first goal since returning from surgery on a heart defect, which ruled him out of the closing months of their promotion season. This was Goldson’s sixth appearance of this campaign; Hughton hoped to loan him to Ipswich in August but could not source appropriate cover and the 25-year-old, far more involved since December, is beginning to grow in stature. “Connor has earned it and everyone knows what we think about him,” Hughton said. “He has knuckled down, Continue reading "FA Cup fifth round: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Goals from Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic finish West Brom

If this proves to be the game when the taxi for Alan Pardew is called, then West Brom’s senior players must share culpability. The Albion manager admitted beforehand his job security was weak after Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Boaz Myhill and Jake Livermore broke a curfew on a team-bonding trip to Barcelona at 5.30am on Thursday to appropriate the taxi that had taken them to a fastfood outlet. So losing at home to Southampton for the second time in a fortnight, to depart the FA Cup, only undermines Pardew’s position. Continue reading...

West Brom v Southampton: match preview

West Bromwich Albion will start on the back foot after the club revealed they are investigating four senior players over an incident at their warm-weather training camp in Spain. However Southampton’s victory earlier in February at the Hawthorns could serve as excellent motivation. Revenge would be sweet and Alan Pardew will be focused on earning a quarter-final spot that could spark his side into life for a tilt at Premier League survival. Graham Searles Saturday 3pm Continue reading...

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Roberto Firmino is underrated no longer, Jonjo Shelvey’s calmness is key and Alexandre Lacazette is lacking confidence Let’s call it the Denis Irwin rule, the dictum that when a player is described as underrated so often then it’s probably no longer valid to call him underrated. It’s starting to happen to Roberto Firmino, whose all-round excellence for Liverpool has been recognised much more in recent times. The 26-year-old’s range of skills defy stereotypes. His Brazilian flair was evident in his ingenious flick for Mo Salah’s goal at St Mary’s, Liverpool’s second in a routine victory, and he has a resting heart-rate when all is manic in the opposition penalty area. Yet Firmino is also one of Liverpool’s best defenders and shows a rare appetite for donkey work. He also scores and makes all kinds of goals – including the Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Virgil van Dijk grins in the face of fans’ fury on happy return to Southampton | Stuart James

The Liverpool centre-back exuded calm on an afternoon when supporters’ ire was eventually redirected at the dugoutFor someone who was supposed to be the pantomime villain and walking into a hostile atmosphere Virgil van Dijk spent an awful lot of time smiling. The boos were loud and the language colourful on occasions yet Van Dijk could hardly have looked more comfortable as he strolled his way through his first return to Southampton since an acrimonious transfer that was far more problematic than anything he came up against on the pitch here. A fifth appearance for Liverpool in all competitions delivered a first clean sheet and a near faultless performance from the world’s most expensive defender, who was a model of composure throughout and never remotely affected by the abuse that rained down from the stands. If anything, Van Dijk played as if he was rather enjoying the stick, so Continue reading "Virgil van Dijk grins in the face of fans’ fury on happy return to Southampton | Stuart James"