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Hits and Misses: Man City’s double treble is on…

Whisper it… but the double treble is on for Man City

Bernardo Silva celebrates with team-mate Jeremy Doku after doubling Man City's lead against Newcastle
Image: Man City are through to a sixth straight FA Cup semi-final

Man City will come up against far tougher opposition in the final months of this season across the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League – but that double treble is most definitely a possibility.

History would suggest it is next to impossible to repeat a feat that has only ever been done twice before by an English side but City are favourites in each of those competitions, despite a mouth-watering and challenging draw against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Their next outing at the Etihad against Arsenal after the international break could be a decisive one in the Premier League title race.

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Sky Sports’ Keith Downie gives his verdict on Manchester City’s routine 2-0 win over Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

When City can make five changes, have Kevin De Bruyne sat in the stands and cruise into the FA Cup semi-finals without getting out of second gear, you get an appreciation of just how good they are – and how deep their quality runs. They are going to take some stopping on all three fronts.
Peter Smith

Howe must reinvigorate drifting Newcastle

Newcastle have lost their last three FA Cup quarter-finals
Image: Newcastle have lost their last three FA Cup quarter-finals

Coventry’s heroic victory at Wolves earlier on Saturday showed that holders City couldn’t take anything for granted when faced with Premier League opposition in their last-eight tie.

Newcastle were backed by 8,000 fans but the players were too meek, and took their punishment in a way which suggested the outcome was already a foregone conclusion. City are 38 games unbeaten at home. It’s three FA Cup quarter-final defeats on the bounce for the Magpies.

Eddie Howe put on a brave face in the driving rain at the final whistle but he must already be planning for next season. He and those not called up for international duty embark on a fortnight’s rest and recuperation in Dubai during a warm weather training camp.

They would be forgiven for wanting to stay in sunnier climes for the remaining weeks, given how their season is petering out. Newcastle are currently 13 points off fifth spot in the Premier League, a position which is likely to carry a Champions League place next season. It means that European qualification could drop down as low as eighth place.

They are only two points off current occupants Brighton, and that has to be their target.

They’ve had wretched luck it must be said in their Cup draws this term, including their Champions League group of death which has seen Dortmund and PSG qualify for the last eight. But Howe – who has warned there will not be a drastic summer overhaul – knows he must reinvigorate a depleted squad to ensure a sense of drift doesn’t sweep over St James’ Park.
Ben Grounds

How good is Van de Ven?

VDV

Liverpool and Tottenham have something in common. They have a Dutch destroyer at the heart of their defence who is the bedrock of everything good they do. When that Dutchman is unavailable, everything becomes that little bit harder.

Based on Spurs’ lacklustre and defensively sloppy showing at Fulham, Micky van de Ven has quickly established himself as their most important player. His dominance to win duels, his clever positioning and eye-catching recovery pace which helps Tottenham’s high-line efficiency were all missed during their 3-0 drubbing in west London.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Fulham and Tottenham.

Fulham’s first goal, scored by Rodrigo Muniz, doesn’t happen with Van de Ven there. He’d have either helped catch the striker offside or would have made his life much more difficult with the finish considering that electric speed he shows when covering.

That’s the main problem. Opposition teams find it much easier to break the Spurs defensive line when the Dutchman is not there. Spurs concede more shots, more shots on target and goals per 90 minutes without their influential centre-back. Ange Postecoglou will be hoping that minor hamstring injury is very minor indeed.
Lewis Jones

Muniz repays Silva’s faith as Fulham form continues

Fulham have been searching around for someone to fill the void left by Aleksandar Mitrovic since he left for Saudi Arabia. They turned to Armando Broja at the end of January to solve their problems, but it hasn’t quite worked out as planned.

Rodrigo Muniz has scored seven goals in seven games since Broja arrived and is now Fulham’s new talisman. The 22-year-old is repaying the faith Marco Silva showed in him when he asked the club to sign the young striker from Flamengo in Brazil three years ago.

The importance of Muniz to Silva is evident when you read reports that him keeping Broja out of the line-up has cost Fulham £4m. Chelsea sought assurances that their striker would play at least 10 games, it’s been claimed, but Muniz’s form has made that impossible.

Muniz’s rise is a story of patience. There was an underwhelming loan at Middlesbrough and it was unclear if he’d make the grade at Fulham. But something has clicked for the Brazilian in 2024 and he now looks like a revelation.
Zinny Boswell

Luton’s resilience is their greatest strength

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Luton and Nottingham Forest

If you could bottle Luton’s ability to roll with the punches, get back up and go again then you’d make a fortune. They’re not the first team to never know quite when they’re beaten, but that is normally the reserve of the teams at the top, fighting until the bitter end. The ones who have winning in their blood.

Well Luton’s blood is certainly not that colour after a run of one win in eight, and blowing a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in Bournemouth on Wednesday night. But still, they don’t let it get them down.

We’ve all seen sides carry momentum up from the Championship, before the mental fatigue of winless weekend after winless weekend finally grinds them down.

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Murillo did his best to emulate Maynor Figueroa’s stunning free-kick from inside his own half back in 2009, but the Nottingham Forest defender was denied by a smart save by Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Remember Norwich in 2019/20, who beat Man City in September but lost all of their final 10 games? This Luton side could not be more different. They have kept fighting to pick up last-minute equalisers in two of their last three games, but this runs a lot further back than March.

Since the opening two games of the season, Luton have only been beaten by more than the odd goal four times – they stay in games, they compete and compete and compete.

Saturday’s draw was one of the clearest examples. Forest should have been out of sight on the quality of the chances they created, but Luton hung on and kept going to grab a last-minute equaliser they barely deserved. Nuno Espirito Santo was fuming, Rob Edwards looked like the cat who had got the cream.

It might not be enough to keep them in the Premier League. That run of one win in eight is now one in nine.

But there is enough to give Luton hope. And given where Luton were meant to finish at the start of the season, the manner of their survival campaign deserves serious respect.
Ron Walker

Kompany’s Muric gamble pays off

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Burnley and Brentford.

James Trafford had been the only Burnley player to have started all 28 Premier League games this season but that run came to an end as Vincent Kompany decided to bench him, with Arijanet Muric coming in to make his first Premier League appearance.

Trafford’s performances have come under scrutiny of late, following some questionable pieces of goalkeeping under high balls and even his usual sharp passing – so important to the way Kompany wants to play – has cost Burnley at key times.

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Burnley’s David Fofana had a moment to forget as he failed to find the net against Brentford with the goal at his mercy.

Muric took his opportunity with both hands as Burnley recorded just their second home win of the season. Muric played a huge part in that, dominating his area from Brentford’s set pieces and making some crucial interventions, none more so than when reacting so quickly to save Dara O’Shea an embarrassing own goal from a wayward back-pass.

The gloves are now his. And Burnley look better for it.
Lewis Jones

Coventry deserve dramatic win

Haji Wright celebrates with fellow goalscorer Ellis Simms after hitting a late winner for Coventry at Wolves
Image: Haji Wright celebrates after hitting a late winner for Coventry at Wolves

Had Coventry not won this FA Cup quarter-final against Wolves, it would have been robbery. The Championship side were superior to their ragged Premier League hosts but still looked set for heartbreak when Gary O’Neil’s side scored twice late in the game.

What followed will become the stuff of club legend and will surely be remembered as one of the most dramatic FA Cup quarter-finals in the history of this old competition. It says plenty about the character of the team that Mark Robins has constructed.

It took time for this team to gel having been overhauled in the summer following play-off disappointment at Wembley. Now, they are going back there at least once this season thanks to the goals of Ellis Simms and Haji Wright – and the efforts of all involved.

It was the winner and the fact that they were pushing for it rather than playing for extra-time that was most impressive. In a game packed with emotions, they deserved this. Coventry are in an FA Cup semi-final for the first time since that famous triumph in 1987.
Adam Bate

Woe for Wolves as everything unravels

Ellis Simms heads Coventry level in the 97th minute
Image: Ellis Simms heads Coventry level in the 97th minute at Molineux

Gary O’Neil had struck a note of caution long before Coventry outplayed Wolves in this FA Cup quarter-final, wary of how his team had struggled against supposedly lesser opponents throughout this season. He knew that his team was without key players too.

But it was not goals that were the problem at Molineux. They found those through Rayan Ait-Nouri and his deputy at left-back. Wolves were undermined by an unconvincing defensive display, a team in disarray at times, and that will worry O’Neil more.

Perhaps it was the absence of Craig Dawson bringing order at the back but organisation was lacking. The patterns were not there, the cohesion that has been key was lacking. There was no lack of effort – Wolves were desperate to win this. They did not know how.

O’Neil will need to lift them because there is an opportunity to qualify for Europe through their Premier League finish if they can get their stars back. But after this crushing blow, mood and momentum turned on its head in an instant, that feels far away.
Adam Bate

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