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Posts Tagged ‘Birmingham City’

Sunderland dump Arsenal out of cup as Chelsea face replay

A second cup defeat in three days has ended any realistic hopes Arsenal had of ending their trophy drought before it reaches the seven year mark. Following hot on the heels of their midweek Champions League humiliation in Milan, Arsenal faced a tricky FA Cup tie at the Stadium of Light, scene of Thierry Henry’s late winner in the Premier League only seven days earlier. However, with the French striker heading back to America, there was no saviour this time around as Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland raced out of the blocks in search of revenge.

The Black Cats enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges and played with much more conviction than their opponents, whose injury crisis only deepened, with young Francis Coquelin forced off after only ten minutes, at the ground where they lost Per Mertesacker last weekend. Ramsey and Squillaci were also forced to leave the action prematurely soon after the interval, but by then the Gunners were already trailing to Keiran Richardson’s deflected shot in the 40th minute. Van Persie was perhaps unlucky to be denied a first half penalty, but Arsenal didn’t create many other openings and their fate was sealed in the 77th minute when a lightening break by Sessegnon and Larsson was rounded off by the unfortunate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who bundled the ball into his own net as it came back off a post.

England’s other Champions League representatives fared little better. Chelsea had to come from behind to earn a draw with Championship side Birmingham at Stamford Bridge, Davind Murphy having put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute, shortly before Juan Mata missed a penalty. Daniel Sturridge got the equaliser in the 62nd minute to force a replay.

In the other FA Cup Fifth Round ties there were wins for Everton, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers against Blackpool, Norwich and Millwall respectively. The final three ties are being played on Sunday and see minnows Crawley Town and Stevenage take on Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively whilst Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

Aston Villa and Birmingham City chase Colombian striker

Transfer rumours have surfaced that the Premiership pair of Villa and Birmingham City are looking at a surprise move for Porto’s Colombian international striker Radamel Falcao.  The former River Plate striker has hit 10 goals in just 14 league games. 

The report surfaced this morning via a British website, who don’t name their source, and interestingly the story doesn’t appear, thus far at least, to have been picked up in the ever-hungry Portuguese sports-press. Nevertheless a move for Falcao for either side would represent quite a coup.

Falcao has been hugely impressive for FC Porto in his first six months at the club following his summer arrival from the Argentine game.  By no means the tallest striker, Falcao combines an outstanding technique on the ball with deadly finishing.  Not only has he scored 10 goals in the Superliga this season, which makes him second top scorer behind Benfica’s Javier Saviola, but he has also helped himself to three goals in the Champions League games. 

Falcao is by no means a stranger to the English transfer columns, as he was also linked in the summer with a move to Liverpool for a fee thought to be around the £5.5 million mark.  However, Rafa Benitez apparently decided against a move, and Falcao switched to Portugal instead.

Both Villa and City have been looking at forward options, especially Alex McLeish’s side, who have been linked with various strikers including Standard Liege’s Milan Jovanovic and Salazburg’s Marc Janko.  Both of those are tall targetman type forwards, so the link with Falcao is something of an alteration.  Villa are believed to be looking for another forward, who can ease the pressure of Gabriel Agbonlahor, and partner a taller striker like Emile Heskey or John Carew, so their connection with Falcao seems more likely given the type of player he is.

If Porto do sell one of their star turns just months into his stint at the Dragao there will be uproar amongst the fans already upset with their side languishing behind both Sporting Braga and worse yet Benfica in the league standings.  A departure for Falcao would add further credence to the theory that Porto have become a selling club in the past 18 months after moves away for the like of Lisandro Lopez and Nucho Gonzalez both to French football in the summer.

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