The Warm-Up: The Cup runneth over for rampant Swansea
Jack Lang rounds up Tuesday evening's goal explosions and enjoys the own goal of the season...
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
10pm, somewhere in Hertfordshire. The camera alights on a large house, smoke billowing from the chimney, light coming from one window. Cut to living-room scene: roaring fire, TV on, cat on the hearth, comfortable armchair with lone occupant.
The man is Paul Clement. The television is showing Tuesday’s FA Cup replays; he was only supposed to be half-watching – he promised the wife – but it has lured him in. Tears moisten his cheeks as images from the Liberty Stadium mingle with memories of which he has tried to rid himself: of Tammy Abraham running down blind alleys, the ball bouncing off Luciano Narsingh and a big number zero under his team’s name on the electronic scoreboard.
“Why?” he mutters through the sobs. “Why couldn’t I have had a game against…” – he sniffles – “…Notts County?”
If you’re wondering what is happening, well firstly: Hi! Welcome to The Warm-Up! And secondly: Swansea won a football match 8-1 last night. 8-1. Eight-one. Eight goals to one. None of those are typos.
Carlos Carvalhal, Manager of Swansea City looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Swansea City and Notts County at the Liberty Stadium on February 6, 2018 in Swansea.Eurosport
To put that in context, this is a side that managed a total of seven goals in the first 14 rounds of the Premier League season. Under Clement, they could not seem to buy as much as a chance. Now, just a few short weeks later, the Swans continue to live a charmed life under £20 note fan Carlos Cavalhal: that’s now eight games unbeaten in all competitions and confidence is clearly flowing through the squad.
Granted, Notts Country displayed all the defensive nous of a bag of fish and chips, but this was still a night to remember – and one that should boost Carvalhal’s options in the weeks ahead. Abraham marked his return to the side with a double, while Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge partied like it was 2011/12 out wide. There was even a first senior goal for local boy Daniel James, rounding off a fine evening’s work for Swansea.
The other cup victors were Huddersfield, who ground out an extra-time win over Birmingham City, and Rochdale, who sprung a minor surprise by beating Millwall.
It was a fun night of cup action around Europe, too.
The goals also flowed in France, where Marseille picked up a cool 9-0 win over Bourg-en-Bresse and Paris Saint-Germain beat Sochaux courtesy of an Angel Di Maria hat-trick.
Oh, and this happened:
Pat on the back
Apparently not content with slotting just the four full-backs into his starting XI most weeks, David Moyes looks set to dip into the free-agent pool – careful, the water is icy cold – to hand his old mucker Patrice Evra another go in the Premier League. The French veteran is tipped to join West Ham until the end of the season, when he will turn 37.
The Warm-Up salutes Moyes for looking to relive the joy of his famous stint as Manchester United boss (Javier! Pat! Now who has Alexander Büttner’s phone number?) but it’s worth wondering whether a third senior left-back really should be the priority at this stage. Then again, maybe Moyes has earmarked Evra for a freelance crowd-control gig at the London Stadium – a role he is probably quite suited to, going by his memorable final act as a Marseille player.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Warm-Up notices you look quite chipper this morning. Well wipe that grin off your face and get a load of these Ligue 1 salaries, and try not to curl up into a teary ball when you realise that you will never, ever – literally ever – earn the tiniest fraction of what Neymar earns.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Q: How do you attract new fans around the world when you’re, erm, a Colombian second-division outfit?
A: With bizarre, crowd-pleasing nonsense like this:
Zero: Yaser Abdullah Al Juneibi
OK, this is actually a day or so old, but is just so good that The Warm-Up is prepared to laugh in the face of recency.
The scene: an Arabian Gulf League game between Al Dhafra and Al Jazira. A derby, no less. The score is 0-0, with 20 minutes or so remaining. Nerves jangling, all that jazz.
Then along comes Yaser Abdullah Al Juneibi, with one of the most confident finishes in recorded history. INTO HIS OWN NET. Magic.
"That unapologetically internationalist, industrial approach is understandable, given the intensely competitive environment in which clubs exist, but it means one significant element has been lost. Local players are not desirable because they are cheap, or plentiful, but because they bond a club to its community. They give it a sense of place."
Mauricio Pochettino is hoping to sign a new forward (Martin Rickett/PA)PA Sport
It’s time for another thrilling edition of Tottenham Early Goal Bingo! Will those amusingly impatient Spurs ruin the spectacle of their FA Cup replay against Newport County by scoring in ten seconds flat, as they did against Manchester United? Or set up a thriller by conceding a goal on their opponents’ first foray into their half as they did at Anfield? Find out at 7.45pm.
Elsewhere: Cup action in Germany, France and Spain. Check local listings etc..