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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Manchester City fancy their chances of clean sweep

Sergio Aguero (number ten) celebrates with Raheem Sterling
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Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Pep Guardiola is up for the cup
There will have been some doubt as to whether the FA Cup would be high on Pep Guardiola's priorities given Manchester City also have the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup to contend with but the competition favourites sent out a strong side to beat Burnley 4-1.

Goalkeeper Ederson was given the afternoon off, but even Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne were brought off the bench to make sure of victory.

Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Fernandinho were in the starting 11 and it feels as if Guardiola is prepared to go for everything this season, which will be music to the ears of those on City's quad bid.

The first-half performance was not great from Guardiola's men but they turned on the style once Aguero equalised from a smartly taken free kick that left Burnley boss Sean Dyche laughably claiming his team should have been allowed to slow down the restart.

2 Having to play another match is better than going out
You often hear people say the last a thing a manager wants is a replay. However, it's often untrue and it's still better than going out of the FA Cup so don't rule out backing the draw.

Toothless West Ham offered nothing in a draw at Shrewsbury, Leicester boss Claude Puel seemed content with a draw at Fleetwood, Bournemouth pushed hard to fightback for a 2-2 with Wigan and, apart from Alvaro Morata, Chelsea coach Antonio Conte had little on the bench to force the issue in their goalless stalemate at Norwich.

In theory Wolves and Swansea could have done without a replay but drew 0-0 and Cardiff's Neil Warnock surprisingly said he was "quite happy with a draw" in their 0-0 draw with Mansfield.

3 Five-star Marriott can make step up
Speculation surrounds the future of Jack Marriott, Peterborough's 23-goal forward, and that is only likely to continue after he scored twice to help the Sky Bet League One side cause an FA Cup upset at Aston Villa.

Posh boss Grant McCann was in no mood to play down Marriott's ability afterwards, saying: "He is way too good for League One."

Inconsistent Posh don't always put a total performance together but with Marriott and Marcus Maddison they have the potential to push on in their league campaign after dominating Villa and forcing 21 shots, 12 of which were on target.

4 Time running out for off-colour Brown
Saturday marked 250 matches in charge for Phil Brown at Southend but he will do well to get to 251 following another defeat, this time at Northampton to end a woeful week for the Shrimpers.

Troubled striker Nile Ranger was released, star midfielder Ryan Leonard has agreed terms on a move to Sheffield United and 17th-placed Southend are getting dragged towards a relegation battle.

"My reaction is one of despair," said Brown after a seventh defeat in eight.

5 New arrivals helping Forest Green
Things were getting desperate for Football League new boys Forest Green but a January transfer overhaul may have worked its magic after a deserved 1-0 win over Port Vale.

Debutant striker Reuben Reid scored the only goal of the game, although just as important were the defensive contributions of Farrend Rawson and Gavin Gunning in their opening appearances for Rovers as Mark Cooper's men kept their first league clean sheet since October 28. 

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The first-half performance was not great from Guardiola's men but they turned on the style once Aguero equalised
E.W. Terms
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