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Soccer Insights Jan Vol. 1

The first weekend of the New Year in England is FA Cup third round day, when the teams from the Premier League and the Championship enter the competition. Meanwhile, La Liga was the first of the European leagues to resume after the winter break.

FA Cup

Selected Results
Arsenal 2-0 Hull
Blyth Spartans 2-3 Birmingham
Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Manchester City 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
QPR 0-3 Sheffield United
Tranmere 2-6 Swansea
West Brom 7-0 Gateshead
Wimbledon 1-2 Liverpool
Yeovil 0-2 Manchester United

Round 4 draw (selected ties)
Birmingham v West Brom
Brighton v Arsenal
Cambridge v Manchester United
Chelsea v Millwall OR Bradford
Liverpool v Bolton
Manchester City v Middlesbrough

Talking points
• In his first game since announcing his summer departure from Anfield, Steven Gerrard scored both goals as Liverpool avoided an upset at League 2 Wimbledon.
• In a round with very few upsets, 7th tier Blyth almost stunned Championship Birmingham by taking a 2-0 lead into the break. However, the Blues turned it around after half time to squeeze through to round 4.
• Sheffield United of League 1 are cup specialists, having already beaten West Ham and Southampton en route to the League Cup semi-finals. They thrashed QPR 3-0 to add another Premier League scalp.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Levante
Cordoba 2-0 Granada
Deportivo 1-0 Athletic Bilbao
Elche 2-2 Villarreal
Espanyol 1-2 Eibar
Getafe 1-2 Rayo Vallecano
Malaga 1-2 Almeria
Real Sociedad 1-0 Barcelona
Sevilla 1-0 Celta Vigo
Valencia 2-1 Real Madrid

1. Real Madrid 39pts
2. Barcelona 38pts
3. Atletico Madrid 38pts
4. Valencia 34pts
5. Sevilla 33pts

Talking points
• Real Madrid’s record-breaking run of consecutive wins came to end at 22. Despite taking the lead at the Mestalla through a Ronaldo penalty, it wasn’t mean to be as Valencia roared back for a win.
• Luis Enrique sprung a surprise be leaving out both Messi and Neymar from his starting XI, a decision which has come in for heavy criticism after Jordi Alba’s own goal decided the game. Barcelona have failed to win on their previous six visits to the Anoeta.
• Sociedad have won four league games this season, three against Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Each of those three wins has come under a different manager, the latest being David Moyes.

What to look out for next week

• Premier League – the battle for Champions League qualification heats up when Manchester United host Southampton on Sunday
• La Liga – a huge game at the top of the table on Sunday at Camp Nou for the visit of Atletico Madrid
• Serie A – one of the fiercest derbies in world football, Roma v Lazio is not for the faint hearted
• Ligue 1 – PSG resume their league campaign and will expect three points from a trip to second-bottom Bastia

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Greg Bortkiewicz