FA Cup

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Torres can benefit from AVB departure

Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his second goal of the match during the Englis...
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Nick Webster

Nick Webster has been the voice of the Barclays Premier League, FIFA World Cup's and UEFA European Championships in America since 2001. Insightful, provocative and entertaining, you'll always find him at the heartbeat of the action with stories that matter.

On Saturday, I went to the office to produce Goals on Sunday. Tottenham versus Bolton was to be one of our featured matches. However, in the 41st minute, soccer no longer mattered.


See the worldwide support for Bolton's midfielder Fabrice Muamba.


Today I ask you to leave messages of support for Fabrice Muamba as many thousands have done over the last two days. The power and energy we can generate can and will make a difference in helping him in his struggle for life.

The sport, though, does carry on, and with Manchester City having the weekend off Manchester United took full advantage, extending their lead at the top of the Premier League. The league played second fiddle to the FA Cup for once as the grand old tournament managed to take center stage.

The four quarterfinals matches took the neutral through the full gamut of emotions.

There was the shock of Muamba at White Hart Lane, where match official Howard Webb made the correct decision to abandon the match. When this fixture is rescheduled, it will be extremely emotional. It will be a very difficult match for both sets of players. Let's hope that Fabrice is out of danger by then.

At Anfield, Kenny Dalglish is turning into the Scottish version of Gerard Houllier. Liverpool is becoming a cup team circa 2001 when, in one off matches, the Reds were nigh on unbeatable.

Since winning the Carling Cup against Cardiff, Liverpool have been wildly inconsistent. However, the midweek derby win over Everton has seemingly sparked a fire in the squad that has the potential to turn into a raging inferno.


Check out the best images from the weekend's FA Cup clashes.

Steven Gerrard is going through a purple patch while Luis Suarez has managed to stay out of the news for a week. These are two very positive signs for Dalglish. With a semi-final against either an Everton team they have just thrashed or an average Sunderland team, Wembley is surely beckoning.

When Everton travels to the Stadium of Light to face the Black Cats in the replay, they’ll be hoping that the formbook holds true, as they have not lost to the Wearsiders since December 22, 2001. The problem for David Moyes, though, is that his team, despite being in the middle of a decent run, is limited, and he’s going up against a manager in Martin O'Neill who may even be a better motivator than him.

With nothing but mid-table respectability to play for, expect a real war on March 27th - definitely a match not to be missed.


Saturday, March 17
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Sunday, March 18
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Over at Stamford Bridge, was saw the expected result. Leicester was thrashed, but then the unthinkable also occurred. Fernando Torres finally found the back of the net after an agonizing 1,541 minutes of scoreless football.

Let’s be honest: The first goal was pretty scruffy, but there was nothing wrong with number two. Throw in a couple of assists, and the feel good vibe that has enveloped Chelsea since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas is just picking up pace. Torres could be one of the main beneficiaries.

In my mind, Chelsea are now the favorites to win the FA Cup for the fourth time in six seasons, for these two reasons.

First, should Bolton win the rearranged tie versus Spurs, they’ll travel to London knowing that they’ve only beaten the Blues once in the last eleven years. Their only hope of victory is if Frank Lamaprd doesn’t play because he always scores against the Trotters.

Secondly, Spurs also have a terrible record against their London rivals, with only five wins in their last 25 meetings. The Harry Redknapp bubble has officially burst. I don’t think he can lift his side without sacrificing his main objective: qualification for the Champions League.

It feels like a Chelsea-Liverpool final, which (given their acrimonious relationship over the last decade) should make for a fascinating match.

Our ability to imagine those matchups shows football, despite its tragedies, always moves on, but players are never forgotten. Today, as you dream of a possible Wembley final for your club, think about Fabrice Muamba. Send your most powerful thoughts to the universe for him, and perhaps our energies will be answered.

Nick Webster is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering the Barclays Premier League and the English national team.

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