Sunday, 24 February 2013

Capital One Cup Final: Bradford City 0-5 Swansea City

Swansea City secured their first trophy in 101 years as they ended Bradford City's fairy tale with a comfortable 5-0 at Wembley. 

Double strikes from Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman and a goal from Michu was enough to get past the valiant efforts of Bradford who had keeper Matt Duke sent off in the second half. 

It was clear that Swansea meant business early on as they dominated possession swiftly moving the ball around and it was the Welsh side that opened the scoring. 

After breaking from their own half, Michu received the ball on the left side of the Bradford box which saw his shot palmed by keeper Matt Duke only to see Nathan Dyer race in to slide the rebound home. 

The League Two were struggling to create anything at the other end and would have been happy to have gone in at half time only a goal down. But five minutes before half time Swansea doubled their lead with a well taken finish from Michu.

picture: sky sports
The tie was all but over minutes after the restart as Swansea added a third through Dyer again. The winger received the ball in the Bradford box and cut in on his left foot, before slotting past the despairing Duke in goal. 

With the tie all but over, things went from bad to worse for the League Two side as they were reduced to ten men. Neat play around the Bradford box from Swansea, saw De Guzman receive the ball in the six yard box and after going round the grounded Duke, was cynically tripped by the keeper.

Referee Kevin Friend had little choice but to send the keeper off after denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. As Bradford arranged for their replacement keeper to come on, comedy broke out in the Swansea ranks as De Guzman and two goal Nathan Dyer argued over who was taking the spot kick.

Despite Dyer being on a hat trick, it was De Guzman who stepped up to convert the kick past substitute keeper Jon McLaughlin. 

De Guzman added his second and Swansea's fifth late on as he bundled home from close range to leave Swansea celebrating an historic moment in the club's history.

Despite being thrashed, Bradford fans continued to applaud their side after the game, and rightly so as they can look back on a memorable campaign. However focus is now back to the league as they battle for promotion.

Bradford City: Duke, Darby, McHugh, McArdle, Good (Davies 46'), Thompson (Hines 73'), Atkinson, Jones, Doyle, Hanson, Wells (McLaughlin 57')

Swansea City: Tremmel, Williams, Rangel, Davies (Tiendalli 84'), Britton, Michu, Pablo, Dyer (Lamah 77'), Routledge, De Guzman, Ki Sung-Yeung (Monk 62')
Goals: Dyer 16', 47' De Guzman 59' pen, 90' Michu: 40'

Referee: Kevin Friend 
Att: 82,597

Capital One Cup Final Preview: Bradford City v Swansea City

The first final of the season has arrived and what a game we are in for. League Two side Bradford City play Swansea City from the Premier League in a must watch encounter. For both teams it is the biggest game in the club's history which sees both teams play each other for the first time in a cup competition. The last four encounters between the clubs have all come in League One with three of them being draws with one Swansea win. The winners of the final will earn a place in the Europa League however it has already been said that if Bradford are to win the final, they will turn down the opportunity to play in Europe next season.

Bradford City:
picture: the
It is the stuff of fairytales. Bradford City of League Two have had an incredible run in this years competition. In getting to Wembley they beat Wigan Athletic and Arsenal in a penalty shoot outs, before dumping Aston Villa out over two legs in the semi finals. If they are to produce yet another Premier League scalp, then it may have to be in extra time or in a penalty shootout. Phil Parkinson's side have won their last nine penalty shoot outs and will be strong favourites if the game is to go the distance. Their incredible run has seen £1million generated for the club and the game and experience will sure to be a great day for the club and fans. Set pieces will be key on the day having scored three of their four goals against Villa from corners and free kicks. Frontman James Hanson caused all sorts of problems for Villa and again on his day could cause havoc for the Swansea back line. They may have shown grit and desire in the previous rounds but the main question is whether the occasion and being at Wembley will overwhelm them.

Swansea City:
In his first season as Swansea boss, Michael Laudrup has the chance to create history at the Welsh club. His side will go into the game as strong favourites and will have to put in a professional performance to avoid any other result. Only in their second season in the top flight, Swansea have come a long way in a short time and again have shown this season they are now an established Premier League side. Swansea's last appearance at Wembley came in 2011 when they beat Reading 4-2 in the Championship play-off final. That victory came under former manager Brendan Rogers whose new club Liverpool was one of the sides Swansea beat to reach the Capital One Cup final. Striker and main man Michu has undeniably been the star for them this season and for £2million right now is the bargain of the season.

Match Prediction:
On their day, a win for Bradford is of course very possible. We saw last year Cardiff run eventual winners Liverpool to the end. However a professional display and no complacency from Swansea will see them go back to Wales as winners of the competition. Everyone other than Swansea fans will be routing for Bradford City to cause an upset and what a story it will be for them if it happens. However I can't see past a Swansea win with the occasion possibly being too much for Bradford.

Prediction: Bradford 1-3 Swansea City

Friday, 15 February 2013

FA Cup Fifth Round: Ones to watch

It's that time of the season again where we are down to the last sixteen of the FA Cup. This years fixtures will see seven of the eight games played this weekend with Chelsea and Brentford playing their replay of their fourth round fixture on Sunday.

1# Luton v Millwall
All eyes will be on this game as it opens the weekend's FA Cup games. Luton have flown the non-league flag throughout the competition having knocked out Norwich City in the last round at Carrow Road, becoming the first non-league side to do this in 24 years. It may have not been the 'big' tie Luton fans and players may have wanted, but a home tie against mid-table Championship side Millwall, offers them another opportunity to produce a shock. Millwall have lost their last three games in the league, are appearing in the fifth round of the cup for the second successive season having fallen to Bolton Wanderers at the same stage last season. Prediction: 1-1

2# Oldham v Everton
League One side Oldham produced one of the shocks of the round three weeks ago as they produced a stunning performance to knock out Liverpool in the fourth round. Their reward for the win sees another Merseyside team face the trip to Boundary Park in the form of Everton. In the time since their memorable victory, former boss Paul Dickov left the club having seen the club's league form see them hover around the relegation zone. Everton have not been dumped out of the cup by a third tier side since facing Oldham back in 2008 where they were beaten 1-0. Everton reached the semi finals of the cup last season and will be looking to repeat the success as they aim to continue their excellent season under David Moyes. Prediction 1-2

3# Manchester City v Leeds United
The last time Manchester City found themselves in the last sixteen of the cup, was two seasons ago when they went on to win the competition. Roberto Mancini's side were beaten by rivals Manchester United last year in the third round but have progressed nicely this season beating Watford and Stoke on their way to the fifth round. Opponents Leeds United produced one of the shocks of the fourth round having beaten Tottenham 2-1 at Elland Road. The last time these two sides faced each other was way back in 2004 where Leeds came out 2-1 winners at Elland Road in the Premier League. With the league title looking unlikely for City, winning the FA Cup is a must for the Premier League side. Prediction: 3-0

4# MK Dons v Barnsley
Two teams you may not expect to be fighting for a quarter final place in the FA Cup. However both MK Dons and Barnsley have produced some excellent performances to make it this far. Home side Dons comfortably overcame QPR in the last round beating them 4-2 at Loftus Road. Struggling in the Championship, Barnsley will welcome the cup tie as they find themselves in a relegation scrap at the bottom of the second tier of English football. Wins over Burnley and Hull City have made this years FA Cup the most successful for Barnsley since 2008 where they reached the semi finals. As for the Dons, they are on their most successful run in the competition since being founded in 2004. They have scored 14 goals so far with Shaun Williams bagging three of them. Prediction: 1-2

As mentioned, Chelsea and Brentford will play their fourth round replay on Sunday, and the winners of this tie will face Middlesbrough on 27th February at the Riverside.

Other 5th Round Ties:

Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers Prediction: 3-0
Huddersfield v Wigan Athletic Prediction: 1-2
Manchester United v Reading Prediction: 4-1