Weblog: The football punter

Swansea can finally end Owls' FA Cup adventure

FA Cup fifth-round replay
BBC 1, 8.05pm Tuesday

FA Cup runs and relegation battles do not always complement each other but Swansea are likely to extend their involvement in the competition by beating Sky Bet Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at the Liberty Stadium.

After the teams drew 0-0 at Hillsborough ten days ago Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal bemoaned the inconvenience of having to play another game and suggested the tie should have been decided by a penalty shootout there and then.

His reaction was understandable.

Swansea dropped back into the Premier League bottom three at the weekend and would much rather have had a free week to prepare for Saturday's crucial clash at home to West Ham.

Winning the cup remains a long shot - a best-priced 28-1 - and the longer they stay in the competition, the more likely it is to distract them from the business of Premier League survival.

Just under five years ago Wigan famously won the trophy and dropped out of the top flight.

The Latics had another special moment when once again defeating Manchester City in the FA Cup with a 1-0 win last Monday but have spent two of the last three seasons in Sky Bet League One.

Swansea won't want to replicate Wigan's fate, but even if Carvalhal rotates his team selection, it is likely they will advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1964.

As a well-resourced Premier League club, Swansea have some quality fringe players.

They knocked out Championship leaders Wolves in the third round, drawing 0-0 at Molineux before winning the replay 2-1 in south Wales.

And it should be an easier task to finish the job against Wednesday, who have gone through a rough patch since replacing Carvalhal with Jos Luhukay as head coach.

Luhukay has been at loggerheads with sections of the supporters, who have become frustrated over his heavy use of squad rotation.

Since his appointment last month the Dutchman has used 22 players and he picked a team without a recognised striker for a 2-1 defeat at Millwall last Tuesday.

Luhukay has explained himself by pointing to the club's lengthy injury list and warning of the dangers of overloading individual players.

And he may look to protect some of his key men against the Swans and ensure they are ready to fire on all cylinders at the weekend.

Slowly but surely Wednesday have been getting sucked towards the Championship relegation battle and they head to Bristol City on Saturday in 17th place, only seven points above the drop zone.

They have won just one of eight league games under Luhukay and looked a fragile bunch at home to Aston Villa at the weekend - twice taking the lead before going on to lose 4-2.

Swansea also had a disappointing weekend - going down 4-1 at Brighton - but had previously gone on a ten-match unbeaten run and are playing well enough to continue their FA Cup adventure.


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Match in Focus

13:30 TODAY

Brighton v Chelsea

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Brighton have scored in eight of their last nine games
Expert verdict
Brighton have carried their formidable home form into the new season, losing just once at the Amex in the league this term. They beat Crystal Palace there most recently and can hold Chelsea, who stunned Manchester City last week but have lost back-to-back away games at Tottenham and Wolves.