Man Utd’s epic FA Cup win over Liverpool could be defining for Erik ten Hag – FA Cup and Premier League hits and misses

The Sky Sports football writers analyse Sunday’s matches in the Premier League and FA Cup as Chelsea get set for their second visit to Wembley while Jurgen Klopp’s farewell Liverpool tour continues to deliver box office moments despite their painful defeat to Man Utd

A defining day for Ten Hag?

Image: Erik ten Hag and Bruno Fernandes celebrate after Manchester United's extra-time win over Liverpool in the FA Cup

Erik ten Hag suggested the first 35 minutes of this match was the best his team have played this season. There’s an argument it was the best United have played during Ten Hag’s tenure. The double blow of Liverpool goals just before half-time undermined it. But when you combine the late rallies – including the equaliser from Ten Hag’s transfer pick Antony and the outrageous pay off from his all-or-nothing tactics in extra-time – this all adds up to a special day for the United boss.

Finally, the progress he has long talked up was there to be seen. “You can see the potential,” he said afterwards. United are a flawed team and there were plenty of examples of their shortcomings against Liverpool. But this was a win to build upon. A reference point for what could be achieved with the Dutchman in charge. A semi-final draw with Coventry can help the momentum. Consecutive FA Cup finals beckon.

Image: Amad Diallo celebrates after scoring an extra-time winner for Manchester United against Liverpool

Image: Antony sweeps home a late equaliser for Manchester United against Liverpool

  • Report: Man Utd 4-3 Liverpool (AET)
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats
  • FA Cup news | FA Cup fixtures | FA Cup results
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Of course, United, it feels, are never more than one defeat away from a crisis. With Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the new investment team watching on, it seems every move from Ten Hag is being scrutinised. Failure at home to Liverpool in this FA Cup quarter-final would have been a potentially damning blow for the under pressure head coach.

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Sky Sports’ Peter Stevenson and Adam Bate react to Manchester United’s thrilling 4-3 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

That blow could still come in the final weeks of the season. Champions League qualification, for instance, is imperative and missing out could cost Ten Hag his job. But this unforgettable FA Cup win will add fuel to the fire of Ten Hag’s optimism he can yet be the man to deliver major success at Old Trafford.
Peter Smith

Could fatigue ruin Klop’s fairytale ending?

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After dominating the second half, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side had more than enough chances to win the game in normal time as they went on to lose 4-3 in extra-time to Manchester United

As special as this was for United, Jurgen Klopp will surely be wondering how Liverpool contrived to lose. He pointed to fatigue afterwards, frustrated that he could not substitute an exhausted Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo and Darwin Nunez as well.

Nunez’s loose pass allowed Marcus Rashford to equalise in extra-time, just one of a series of poor decisions by his players at both ends of the pitch. Liverpool could and should have gone 3-1 up during the second half but lacked that clinical touch on the day.

Image: Harvey Elliott is congratulated by his team-mates after giving Liverpool a 3-2 lead at in extra-time

One of those things? Klopp will hope so. He will be anxious about this international window, the prospect of tired players being pushed to their limits. Because there is so much still to play for this season, opportunities in the Premier League and the Europa League.

He shrugged off suggestions that this could be psychological blow. He admires the mentality of his players too much for that. But perhaps for the first time, there will be the fear that Klopp’s dream ending could be undermined by the demands of the fixture list.
Adam Bate

Chelsea book another Wembley date

Image: Carney Chukwuemeka is mobbed after scoring a late goal to restore Chelsea's lead against Leicester

They may have made it hard work for themselves at times, but Chelsea are off to Wembley for a second time this season after beating Leicester in their quarter-final tie.

After the game, Mauricio Pochettino said the aim and excitement for him when arriving in England all those years ago was taking any club to the famous ground for a cup tie, in either the FA Cup or Carabao Cup.

  • Chelsea 4-2 Leicester – Match report
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This season, he will play at Wembley in both competitions. It may even be three times if they can find a way to beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

But this comes amid continuing questions over this Chelsea side. Going forward, the Blues are starting to click. Since the Carabao Cup defeat, they have scored at least twice in each game – and should have had more against Leicester.

However, they have also conceded two goals in all four games as well. Axel Disasi’s poor own goal was responsible for one on Sunday. The shock of the day perhaps is that a shaky Robert Sanchez didn’t make a goal-conceding error, with Djordje Petrovic’s No1 shirt not looking under threat.

But as Pochettino points out often, this is a young team who are learning and will make mistakes. Some more glaring than others. But the manager is adamant that his plan, the long-term vision, will come good.

And despite all of the criticism, sometimes poor performances and disgruntled fan base, two trips to Wembley in the latter stages of cup competitions is not a bad return.

Now, they just need to turn those trips into wins. Time will tell if Chelsea can make that happen.
Charlotte Marsh

McGinn’s red comes back to bite Villa further

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Highlights from West Ham’s match against Aston Villa in the Premier League

John McGinn’s red card was a moment of madness that not only cost Aston Villa any hope of turning the game around with Tottenham but is also costing them down the line too. Villa’s trip to West Ham was the first of three matches their skipper is missing due to that needless and idiotic dismissal. And boy did Villa miss him.

  • West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa – Match report & highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats
  • Premier League table | Watch free Premier League highlights

There was a lack of tempo and intensity to Villa’s play in east London, especially in the first half. That lack of vibrancy, something McGinn gives you in spades, set the tone for a sloppy performance where Unai Emery will have been delighted to leave with a point in their satchels. With no Boubacar Kamara either, Villa looked very lightweight and easy to manipulate in that key central area. Lucas Paqueta and Michail Antonio pressed very aggressively in the first half and it caused the somewhat makeshift central duo of Youri Tielemans and Dougals Luiz huge amount of problems in possession.

As Emery referenced, Villa had little control until West Ham sank deeper into a low block during the second half. Finding a solution to McGinn’s absence for their next two games with Wolves and Manchester City will occupy Emery’s mind throughout the international break.
Lewis Jones

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Coufal is here to assist you

Image: Vladmir Coufal now has seven Premier League assists

If I asked you who had more Premier League assists this season, Martin Odegaard or Vladimir Coufal? You’d obviously say Odegaard, right? Well, you’d be wrong.

Coufal might not have a fancy step over in his locker or get too many home fans off their seat when he drives forward but he is an underrated creative force for West Ham. His assist for Michail Antonio’s opening goal means he’s now provided seven assists for the Hammers in the Premier League this season, his joint-best tally in a single campaign (also seven in 2020/21). Among defenders, only Kieran Trippier (10) has provided more assists in the competition this term.

He might be 144 games without a goal for the club but he is one of the first names on the teamsheet for David Moyes, missing just two of West Ham’s 29 Premier League games this season – at Brighton with illness and Bournemouth at home due to the suspension. The Hammers are much more dangerous team with him in it.
Lewis Jones

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