Dear reader, I said it last week but I do not think anyone listened. Manchester City do not need any help winning football matches. They are perfectly capable of doing it themselves without the referee’s assistance. Would City have beaten Swansea anyway, even without two howlers from the man in the middle? Quite possibly, but maybe, just maybe not.
Fresh from battering Schalke by the odd Champions League goal in seven during the week, Peppy G’s boys rolled into Wales understandably expecting a lower-end Championship side to be almost as easy to squeeze past in the FA Cup.
It didn’t really work out that way initially as Swansea found themselves two goals to the good through a penalty correctly given and a team goal that had City scored it themselves, fanboys the world over would have been hyperventilating over on social media.
Of course, 2-0 up against City when you’re not seeing a great deal of the ball is never really a safe position to be in, even if they have got Fabian Delph in the side.
Pep threw on Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero to sort out the mess and it wasn’t long before things looked completely different. At 2-1, Sterling was tackled in the box and both the referee and his assistant were unable to spot the fact that he hadn’t actually been fouled. He hadn’t dived either, before the Daily Mail get on to Sterling about that too, but he hadn’t been fouled.
Aguero’s penalty hit the post and then went in off the ‘keeper’s heel. Did anyone else just instinctively know at that point that Swansea’s game was up?
It was the Argentine who netted the late winner for the FA Cup favourites, despite being offside and despite it (again) not being spotted.
You had to feel for Swansea who had given everything and, had VAR been in action on the night, might have come away with at least a penalty shoot-out.
Which brings me on to the whole VAR thing. I am a fan of VAR, I think it does bring something extra to the game and stops teams, theoretically, getting knocked out of competitions and missing trips to Wembley due to ridiculous errors.
So why, oh why, is it not being used in every single match at this stage of the FA Cup?
Don’t give me the ‘oh, it’s only at Premier League grounds’ chat, Mr FA. I can just about get my head around that the old Plough Lane might not have been quite there enough to accommodate such technology. But Swansea’s ground was a Premier League ground last season. And it’s the quarterfinal of the FA Cup for crying out loud.
Either everyone has it or nobody does, surely?
Anyway, Liverpool fans are getting quite upset at how much ‘help’ City are getting right now, not quite cottoning on to the fact that it is probably preferable that City stay in as many cup competitions as possible right now.
Speaking of Liverpool, they nearly made a dog’s dinner of their chance to go back to the top of the Premier League against Fulham. They needed a late penalty from James Milner to take all three points after Ryan Babbel treated the away fans to something they won’t have been used to seeing – him scoring a goal.
Does this count as a new Manchester United crisis? I mean, since they beat PSG to 100% confirm that they are ‘back’, United have lost to Arsenal and been knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was honest enough to admit that Wolves deserved their 2-1 win but United need to sort themselves out quickly otherwise they won’t have much fun playing Barcelona over two legs in the Champions League.
Watford knocked out Crystal Palace in a tie that went close to being the one fewest people cared less about this weekend. The winner of that dubious title was Millwall vs Brighton, which saw Millwall also ship a two-goal lead to a Premier League side and then lose on penalties.
Back in the Premier League, West Ham were about to achieve peak West Ham status for the season in allowing Huddersfield to score what must have been close to 50% of their total goals for the season in their match at the Athletics Stadium.
Huddersfield led 3-1 but then forgot to do the rest of it, including defending. West Ham managed to turn it around and win 4-3. If there was any doubt about whether Huddersfield would get relegated, this removed them for sure.
Wes Morgan doesn’t do a great deal right on a football pitch these days but he did manage to score an injury-time winner for ten-man Leicester City against Burnley. Burnley have now conceded ten goals in injury time this season and not all of them have been Joe Hart’s fault.
Speaking of injury-time kicks in the teeth, Matt Ritchie supplied one to his former employers Bournemouth by scoring a fine equaliser for Newcastle on the South Coast. The game finished 2-2.
Oh, and Chelsea lost to Everton. Chelsea losing isn’t that much of a surprise anymore but Everton winning?