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NUFC’s FA Cup Progress Academic at Oxford With Focus

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Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United face Oxford United at The Kassam Stadium on Saturday afternoon in The 4th Round of The Emirates (£150M shirt sponsors from 2014 of Arsenal, who won the trophy in 2014 & 2015) FA Cup looking to reach the 5th Round stage of the competition for the first time since 2006.

Officiating the match is David Coote, who reffed Newcastle’s 4-1 win over Northampton in last year’s League Cup tie at St. James’ yet was also ref when The Magpies lost to Blackburn at home missing this late hand-ball penalty.

https://vine.co/v/5FdgMlhuTL3

Yet ultimately it was complacency on the part of Rafa Benitez – who changed six men from Newcastle’s oh-so-impressive win away to Leeds United ahead of the League Cup Quarter-Final tie against Hull City – that put paid to The Magpies hopes for three points against Rovers.

The Championship-Cup balance is one every manager must weigh up and very few if any Newcastle fans would swap instant promotion back to The Premier League for the chance of The Magpies’ first major silverware since 1969 yet fielding a weakened side versus Blackburn certainly halted the club’s winning momentum.

A narrow loss at Hull followed and the authorities took it upon themselves to attempt to turn a stumble into a fall with the most disgraceful refereeing performance seen possibly anywhere in the English professional Leagues and competitions this season in the 2-1 reverse at Nottingham Forest when Newcastle were reduced to nine men.

Fazack-Attack

Some of Newcastle’s fanbase will recognise the man behind the manager Michael Appleton in the Oxford dugout, Derek Fazackerley, who was Kevin Keegan’s First Team coach in the early 1990s and later joined the legendary Magpies player and manager in the England set-up when Keegan was named Three Lions national team boss.

Experienced Fazackerley was credited with being a major factor behind the attractive football played by Keegan’s entertaining sides & believes Cup runs help League teams & is relishing the tie against a club he once coached:

“The cup competitions gave us momentum last year” he told Yellow Player HD “and there is the possibility they could do that again this year. First we have a difficult game against Bradford, then we can look forward to the game against Newcastle.”

 

Rafa got it right against Birmingham City in the 3-1 replay win as he gladly welcomed back JonJo Shelvey, whose 5-game absence through suspension was a decisive factor in Newcastle’s festive blip although a more rugged winter line-up may have helped prevent Newcastle freeze in the cold.

With Daryl Murphy’s 3 goals in his last 3 games goal record, Benitez’s decision to sign the 33-year-old Eire international has been more that justified as the veteran Championship striker has expertly stepped into the breach left by injuries to top scorer Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic, stretchered off after this goal went in:

With Mitrovic set to return soon and Dwight Gayle’s injury not as bad as first feared either, Benitez may risk Murphy leading the line against Oxford and his experience of the lower echelons of the football world – at Waterford, Sunderland, Ipswich and the like – can only help Newcastle’s cause.

Murphy is the perfect experienced figure to lead the line and ensure a Newcastle victory and while Benitez will certainly shuffle his pack again and bring back Grant Hanley, Cheick Tiote and Massadio Haidara back into the fold, he will have learned his lesson about rotating and resting too many of his first team.

SKY Sports’ Andy Walker said of the Irish striker who once played for Celtic:

“He is that type of striker who is aggressive, he uses his physique. He’s not the quickest but he is wonderful in the air and good on the ground.

“He had a couple of seasons at Ipswich where he was a recognised goalscorer, and I remember watching him up in Scotland with Celtic and he scored goals there.”

Whether Benitez will risk playing Newcastle’s talisman and play-maker JonJo Shelvey or wraps him in cotton wool remains to be seen yet what is certain is that Newcastle should go all out to recruit an alternative creative option to him should he face injury or suspension between now and the end of the season.

Lots of names have been linked with The Magpies during the transfer window in the creative department from Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Tom Cleverley yet a player who Rafa could take a risk on is Ravel Morrison, currently training with Wigan Athletic, would certainly fit the bill.

The 23 year-old has all the talent in the world & if a manager like Benitez could coax the best from him, he would be a player to not just help guide Newcastle back to The Championship yet perform in The Premier League, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8D-xEWdbUg

All told, a Newcastle side focused on the game in hand should pass its Oxford entrance exam into the 5th Round.

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Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police

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Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.

According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.

Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.

The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:

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Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch

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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.

Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.

“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.

“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.

“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”

Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.

“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.

“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.

“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”

 

 

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Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

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27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”

 

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