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FA Cup fifth round: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from the midweek FA Cup fifth-round fixtures, including Klopp’s kids, late escapes, and world football’s deadliest duo.

Klopp’s kids are more than alright

Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s League Cup win as the ‘most special’ success of his career at the weekend, as a depleted Reds team edged out Chelsea in extra time at Wembley. Academy graduates Bobby Clark, James McConnell, and Jayden Danns were introduced, joining fellow products Conor Bradley and Jarrell Quansah in impressing at senior level this season.

Klopp gave his kids, through both faith and necessity, another chance against Southampton this week and was rewarded for his trust in some style. Lewis Koumas marked his senior debut with the opening goal before Danns came off the bench to snatch the headlines with a brilliant brace.

It was the first time that Liverpool had had two players aged 18 or under score in the same game, on an unforgettable night for the club’s academy system. Against one of the most impressive teams in the second tier this season, Liverpool’s youthful side more than held their own, with a strong second-half showing booking an FA Cup quarter-final tie at Manchester United.

These are early days and Klopp and his eventual successor will be cautious not to pile too much pressure on an emerging contingent, but Liverpool’s latest crop could save – or earn – the Reds a fortune in the near future.

De Bruyne and Haaland make treble repeat possible

Is there any sight more intimidating in world football right now than Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland in perfect sync?

Manchester City have been without each of the duo for extended periods this season but their main men are back and bang in form. Against Luton, Haaland put on a centre-forward clinic as the Norwegian exposed Luton’s naive high-line and man-to-man marking, tormenting Teden Mengi in a performance of pace, power, sharp movement and ruthless finishing.

Haaland helped himself to five goals at Kenilworth Road, with the supply line from De Bruyne equally exquisite. The Belgian provided the assist for Haaland’s first four goals of the night, in a devastating display of the duo’s quality and chemistry.

Manchester United are unlikely to be as accommodating as Luton to their neighbours in the Manchester Derby this weekend, but there will no doubt be alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford.

Haaland right now is arguably the world’s finest finisher and in De Bruyne he has the perfect player to provide the chances. It’s a combination that makes a defence of their treble plausible.

Wolves within reach of Wembley

Gary O’Neil has insisted Wolves are in the FA Cup to win it this season after beating Brighton to reach the last eight. The quarter-final draw has provided Wolves with the lowest-ranked team in the competition, Coventry, on home soil and a chance to reach only the club’s second semi-final this century.

O’Neil has quietly done an excellent job since inheriting this Wolves team from Julen Lopetegui’s walkout on the eve of the season and there is confidence that the club’s counter-attacking game plan can upset the odds in the latter rounds.

Wolves have beaten Manchester City, Spurs (twice) and Chelsea (twice) already this season and will have no fear should ‘Big Six’ opposition await down the line.

“When we set off to travel to Brentford I remember delivering the pre-match meeting and spoke about our aim, at that moment, was to win the FA Cup,” O’Neil said.

“I know how farfetched that sounds but with every win, you get a step closer. We have had to give a lot to get here. Coventry will be a massive test, they are a good side and play good football and we will be expected to roll them over by everyone outside and that can create problems.

“Whoever we played in the quarter-final we would see it as a great chance. We’ve beat Chelsea twice and Tottenham and Man City here. We love playing here, I’m sure they (fans) will be dreaming of a semi-final and I’ll be analysing Coventry.”

Seasons alive for Chelsea and Newcastle, just

Chelsea and Newcastle kept alive hopes of salvaging their seasons with narrow wins over lower-league opposition. Each are facing uphill battles to secure European qualification and the FA Cup offers a route to silverware and continental competition.

Chelsea squeezed past Leeds United in a thriller at Stamford Bridge, with Conor Gallagher coming off the bench to score a 93rd-minute winner. Having missed several big chances in the Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool at the weekend, Gallagher’s goal was a big moment and kept alive silverware hopes. The west Londoners will take on Leicester in the quarter-finals, in a rematch of the 2021 final.

Newcastle, meanwhile, needed penalties to progress at the expense of Championship strugglers Blackburn Rovers. That Blackburn managed 16 efforts and nine on target was further evidence of a Magpies team performing below expectations, with Eddie Howe admitting the overriding feeling was ‘relief’ after his side’s shootout success.

Progress for both teams, but problems remain. Time to turn the focus back to improving their patchy Premier League form.

Onana upturn a positive for Manchester United

Andre Onana’s first few months at Manchester United were far from perfect, as the goalkeeper came under fire for a series of high-profile mistakes. Unconvincing, particularly during the club’s Champions League group stage exit, there were some questioning the wisdom in the £47.5m deal to sign the Cameroonian from Inter Milan.

Onana endured a difficult Africa Cup of Nations with the national team but, at club level, there have been signs of improvement. Solid showings against West Ham and Aston Villa this month were followed by another at Nottingham Forest, as Onana looks more like his Ajax/Inter self.

He made five saves at Forest, twice denying Taiwo Awoniyi and Divock Origi, before tipping a fierce Morgan Gibbs-White striker over the bar. Reliable and confident, the Red Devils will need Onana at his best ahead of this weekend’s Manchester Derby. With issues right across the team, specifically at left-back, Erik ten Hag need Onana to continue his recent form.

Read – Emirates FA Cup Team of the Round – Fifth Round

See more – Five of football’s best consolation goals

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