Sports Mole previews Saturday’s FA Cup clash between Exeter City and Wigan Athletic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After missing out on a place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup on Tuesday, a new opportunity awaits Exeter City as they host fellow League One side Wigan Athletic in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
St James Park witnessed a dramatic five-goal thriller between the Grecians and Middlesbrough last time out, whilst Wigan’s good form of late was halted by a loss against Charlton Athletic on the same night. ...Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Following their progression to the fourth round of the EFL Cup for the first time since 1989, Exeter were unable to book a first-ever spot in the quarter-finals of the competition as they lost 3-2 to Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough at St James Park on an atmospheric evening in Devon.
Midfielder Ryan Trevitt – who many associated with the Grecians have backed to have a huge future in football – bagged a sensational brace for the hosts on Tuesday night, however goals from Morgan Rodgers, Sammy Silvera and striker Emmanuel Latte Lath sealed a spot in the last eight for Boro.
Despite giving their Championship opposition a real scare last time out, Exeter have to face their reality as they prepare to welcome Wigan this weekend, with the Devonshire-based club currently winless in their last eight across all competitions, collecting just a single point in their last six League One contests.
Following the high-profile departures of Jevani Brown, Sam Nombe and Jay Stansfield earlier in the year, the Grecians have struggled massively to pose an attacking threat so far in 2023-24, scoring only 12 goals in 15 league matches, with first-choice strikers Admiral Muskwe and James Scott netting just two league goals between them.
The FA Cup is all about giant killings, and Exeter will be hoping to reach the third round in order to earn a tie with a Premier League side – Gary Caldwell’s men recorded their first win over top-tier opposition since 1989 when they bested Luton Town in the third round of the EFL Cup in September.
After winning successive League One fixtures against Exeter, high-flying Oxford United and Shrewsbury Town, Wigan produced a first-half horror show on Halloween which ultimately led to defeat against a Charlton side who recorded their first away win of the season at the DW Stadium.
A brace from Addicks attacker Alfie May and a Corey Blackett-Taylor strike had the visitors from London three goals ahead after just 43 minutes, and despite a improved second-period display which included consolations from Thelo Aasgaard and Stephen Humphrys, the Latics were condemned to their seventh loss of the League One term.
Shaun Maloney’s men currently sit 19th in the third-tier standings as they possess 14 points after 15 matches, however considering that Wigan were handed an eight-point deduction at the start of the season for failing to pay player wages, the Lancashire club are performing like a side who should be in the playoff conversation.
Striker Charlie Wyke is set to be a key man in a potential FA Cup run for the Latics this season, with the former Sunderland forward finding the net on six occasions in 10 League One appearances so far this term, suggesting that the 30-year-old has the capability of matching his 25-goal third-tier campaign for the Black Cats in 2020-21.
It would be wrong to preview an FA Cup clash involving Wigan without mentioning the club’s immortal moment in this competition during the 2012-13 season, when an 88th-minute Ben Watson winner in the final at Wembley against Manchester City sealed the Latics’ only-ever major trophy.
Exeter City form (all competitions):
Wigan Athletic form (all competitions):
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Exeter will be sweating over the fitness of wing-back Demetri Mitchell ahead of Saturday’s match at St James Park, with the 26-year-old being replaced in the first period against Middlesbrough by Vincent Harper due to injury.
After suffering with illness over the past week, Zak Jules started in the EFL Cup defeat to Boro on Tuesday, and the Scotsman should be handed another start in Devon on the weekend.
Pierce Sweeney will return to the matchday squad for the Grecians after serving a one-match suspension for collecting five yellow cards, however the involvements of Reece Cole and Jack Aitchison are in doubt because of their respective injuries.
Wigan boss Maloney is set to make a number of changes from the side who heavily disappointed in the first half against Charlton, meaning Callum Lang and Liam Shaw will have to settle for places on the bench.
Scott Smith is likely to start in the engine room for the Latics alongside Babajide Adeeko, whilst in-form winger Martial Godo will return to the XI after grabbing two assists as a substitute against the Addicks.
Steven Sessegnon remains a doubt for Wigan after missing the defeat on Tuesday, with the former Fulham man starting all three of his side’s most recent wins in League One.
Exeter City possible starting lineup:Sinisalo; Aimson, Fitzwater, Hartridge; Harper, Kite, Trevitt, Taylor, Jules; Scott, Wildschut
Wigan Athletic possible starting lineup:Amos; Clare, Hughes, Morrison; Jones, Smith, Adeeko, Pearce, Aasgaard; Humphrys, Godo
We say: Exeter City 1-2 Wigan Athletic
After such an emotionally-draining evening against Middlesbrough on Tuesday, there are concerns over whether Exeter can find the strength required to break their winless run this weekend.
The Latics were much improved in the second half against Charlton, and we suspect Maloney’s men will have enough attacking quality to secure their place in the second round on Saturday.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data
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Erik ten Hag hails “very important” Harry Maguire after summer exit talk
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag praises central defender Harry Maguire for turning his Red Devils career around....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has hailed Harry Maguire for his contribution to the team’s recent impressive results in the Premier League.
The Red Devils have won each of their last three league fixtures against Fulham, Luton Town and Everton, keeping clean sheets in all three games.
Maguire has been a vital player for the 20-time English champions in recent weeks, playing the full 90 minutes in each of their last six Premier League games, which have brought five wins.
The England international was heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford over the summer, with West Ham United believed to have had an offer accepted for him.
However, the 30-year-old decided to stay at Man United to fight for his place, and the ex-Sheffield United youngster is now first pick in the middle of the defence.
Maguire’s form is keeping Raphael Varane out of the side, and there is an argument that Ten Hag’s first-choice centre-back pairing will be Maguire and Lisandro Martinez once the latter has returned from injury.
Jonny Evans had been featuring alongside Maguire before picking up an injury, with Victor Lindelof now filling in as the left-sided centre-back.
Ten Hag has lavished praise on Maguire for ‘fighting back’ from a difficult period, hailing the centre-back’s “mentality” and “very important” contribution to the team’s recent success.
“Absolutely. Very important. And he fought back and he showed great mentality. He can be proud of himself. But as I say: we are in a season, we are in the right direction,” Ten Hag told MUTV.
“Harry is in the right direction with this team. Now we make the next steps because we want to be successful and Harry is very ambitious. He wants to win trophies. So then, you know, you have to give every day your best.”
Maguire is now set to remain at Old Trafford, especially as there is huge uncertainty surrounding the futures of Varane, Evans and Lindelof.
Varane is believed to be keen to leave the Red Devils next year, with a number of clubs from Saudi Arabia said to be keeping a close eye on his situation.
Both Evans and Lindelof only have contracts until next June, meanwhile, although it is thought that a 12-month extension will be activated in the latter’s deal.
Scott McTominay is another player who was heavily linked with a move away from Man United over the summer, but he has also been vital for Ten Hag in recent weeks, coming up with four goals in all competitions.
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Newcastle United rise to fifth with deserved win over Manchester United
Newcastle United jump to fifth in the Premier League table with a deserved 1-0 win over Manchester United at St James’ Park.
Newcastle United made it three successive wins against Manchester United in all tournaments for the first time in over 100 years with a deserved 1-0 Premier League victory over the tepid Red Devils at St James’ Park.
A succession of chances came and went for Eddie Howe’s men in the first half, but Man United’s luck ran out when Anthony Gordon fired home early in the second half to sink Erik ten Hag’s team – who were second best all afternoon – although a concerning injury to Nick Pope partially marred the Magpies’ success.
While a decimated Newcastle side put out the exact same XI from their Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain, a handful of changes from Ten Hag saw Anthony Martial, Kobbie Mainoo, Diogo Dalot and the returning Marcus Rashford come into the fold....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
However, Ten Hag’s alterations did little to stem the flow of a rampant Newcastle, who saw almost all of the ball in the opening stages and came close in the 18th minute through Miguel Almiron, but Andre Onana was equal to his low effort.
Alexander Isak and Jamaal Lascelles both came close in the few moments that followed; the former had a strike deflected wide by Harry Maguire before Lascelles headed over the bar, which was then shaking in the 40th minute as Kieran Trippier’s free kick landed just an inch too high.
Newcastle’s shot counter displayed a whopping 14 as the referee’s whistle blew to signal half time, but Man United’s clean sheet remained intact, mainly thanks to their hosts’ wastefulness in the final third.
Any harsh half-time words from Ten Hag clearly did not have the desired effect, as Newcastle finally made one of their many forays forward pay in the 55th minute, where Gordon gave the hosts a fully merited lead.
The sloppy Red Devils were punished for losing the ball in the defensive third, allowing Trippier to flash a low ball across the six-yard box, where Gordon was on hand to tap home at the back post.
The ex-Everton man’s opener saw him stretch his St James’ Park scoring streak to four successive Premier League matches, and Ten Hag responded by calling upon Antony and Rasmus Hojlund in place of the ineffective Martial and Rashford.
Man United’s alterations did little to spark any life into the meek visitors, who were indebted to Aaron Wan-Bissaka for making a crucial block to deny Lewis Miley in the 78th minute, but it was Fabian Schar’s turn to deny Sergio Reguilon from scoring a sensational volley with a terrific block of his own four minutes later.
As Pope dived to meet Reguilon’s blocked shot, though, the Newcastle number one injured himself and stayed down as Man United built their next attack, which was stopped in its tracks to allow the stricken Pope to receive treatment.
The Englishman was able to rise to his feet, but he was evidently struggling with his shoulder and slowly trudged off to be replaced by ex-Man United loanee Martin Dubravka.
The Newcastle number two had only been on the field a few moments before an Antony volley flew past him and into the back of the net, but Maguire – whom the ball took a nick off – was in an offside position, and the linesman’s flag came to the hosts’ rescue.
The Red Devils were granted nine minutes of additional time to try to find a leveller, but Newcastle stood firm to leapfrog their visitors into fifth spot in the table, bumping Ten Hag’s men down to seventh in the process.
Newcastle have four full days to rest up before a trip to Everton on Thursday, while Man United will return to their Old Trafford headquarters to meet Chelsea on Wednesday.
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Kobbie Mainoo ‘set to double Manchester United wages’
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford on account of becoming a first-team regular for Erik ten Hag....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford following his first-team breakthrough.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the Red Devils’ setup but was denied the chance to make an impression in the early stages of the 2023-24 campaign due to an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.
Mainoo took months to recover from the affliction, but the teenager has since exited the treatment room and was trusted by Erik ten Hag from the first whistle in last weekend’s 3-0 Premier League win over Everton.
Mainoo – who made his debut for the Red Devils against Charlton Athletic in a January EFL Cup clash – received high praise for a performance well beyond his years and was then brought off the bench for his Champions League debut against Galatasaray a few days later.
Sofyan Amrabat was given the nod in Europe instead of Mainoo, but the Fiorentina loanee was overlooked for the youngster in Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, where the Red Devils fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Amid Man United’s indifferent form on the field and protracted takeover saga, Mainoo has been a shining light for the 20-time English champions, and his rapid rise is now set to be rewarded.
According to the Daily Star, Mainoo is currently on a modest £10,000 per week at the Theatre of Dreams, but his salary will soon double to £20,000 per week owing to a clause in his contract.
Back in February, the Red Devils tied the 2005-born lynchpin down to a new long-term deal until the end of the 2026-27 campaign, with the option of an additional 12 months.
Rather than Man United agreeing another fresh deal with Mainoo, the midfielder’s existing terms apparently include a clause stipulating that his wages will double in size once he becomes a first-team regular.
The report adds that Mainoo’s salary increase has not been triggered just yet, but he is “close” to taking home an extra £10,000 per week, and he would already be on a higher wage had he not spent a couple of months in the treatment room.
The 18-year-old – who has been with the club since the age of nine – completed 80 minutes of Saturday’s showdown with Newcastle, which was his sixth first-team appearance for the Red Devils.
However, Mainoo and his Man United teammates were run ragged by Newcastle, who deservedly picked up a 1-0 win in freezing temperatures thanks to a second-half Anthony Gordon goal.
Having also been beaten by the Magpies in this year’s EFL Cup and a 2-0 loss at St James’ Park in the 2022-23 Premier League, Man United have now suffered three successive defeats to Newcastle in all competitions for the first time since January 1922.
The Red Devils’ sixth league loss of the season has bumped them down to seventh place in the Premier League table, and the visit of Chelsea to Old Trafford is next up for Ten Hag’s troops on Wednesday.
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