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Day: January 29, 2011

FA Cup Match Of The Week 2: Southampton 1-2 Manchester United

When Dimitar Berbatov drove the ball into Richard Kingson’s goal to complete Manchester United’s turn-around at Blackpool during the week, there was a near-nationwide shrug of resignation at what is starting to feel like the inevitability of their coronation as the Premier League champions. That sort of performance, the digging in and refusing to accept a defeat that had seemed destined to slip away from them, was championship form coming from a team that, if history can act as a guide to anything, usually gets better during the second half of the season. The bigger question is that of whether a team that has not looked outstanding for much of the season can now push on and finish it unbeaten. This Manchester United team, however, isn’t the Manchester United team that played on Wednesday night and the Blackpool manager Ian Holloway may have cause to take a sharp intake of breath at the side that Alex Ferguson has chosen for this evening’s match. Presumably, Ferguson’s defence will be that he selected a team that he believed could go out and win this match and the argument that “people want to see the stars play” doesn’t hold much water, either. Southampton, formerly of the Premier League but now trying to fight their way back up from League One, won’t care that much should they beat them at St Marys this...

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FA Cup Match Of The Week: Torquay United 0-1 Crawley Town

When a non-league club gets as far as the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, the goodwill shown by supporters of other clubs often transcends league and occasionally even local rivalries. Not so this year. Crawley Town have an excellent chance of making the Fifth Round of the competition, but there is at best a feeling of ambivalence surrounding this FA Cup run. This, after all, is the club that spent more money on players during last summer than the whole of the division above it and is managed by a man that many feel should have been banned from the game for life. As ever, there has been talk of giant-killing throughout the week but, in the case of this match, it doesn’t feel as if an away win would be much of a surprise. Torquay United fell out of the Football League in 2007 and spent a couple of years there themselves before managing to scramble their way back two seasons ago via the play-offs. They’re halfway down the League Two table at the time of writing, meaning that there are only a dozen or so league places between the two teams. There will be no “shock” result at Plainmoor this afternoon. Not that this is the narrative that Crawley want – they had the “Living The Dream” posters out this week, to which the natural reaction...

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