On Saturday morning, Londonist awoke from a sound sleep with a self-satisfied smile plastered all over one's face. It was the fifth round of the FA Cup, and surely the five London teams involved were about to march proudly into the quarter-finals? "Ha!" we proclaimed to Mrs Londonist, over a bowl of shreddies and a pain au chocolat, "At this rate they'll have to rename it 'The London Cup'! Ho Ho!".
By the end of the weekend, Londonist was slumped in an armchair, staring at an empty bottle of gin and with The Smiths playing mournfully in the background.
Where did it all go wrong?
BONG! Keeper Dean Kiely concedes a corner, giggles and laughs, then has the smile wiped off his face as Dion Dublin powers in a header. Charlton 1, Leicester City 2 . BONG! Bolton play their reserves and swat aside a sluggish Fulham, 1-0 . BONG! Patrick Kluivert remembers that he's not just in Newcastle to play kissy-chase in Bigg Market and scores in the fourth minute against Chelsea. Mourinho is then forced to ponder on the irony of making a three-man substitution at half-time, moments before watching Alan Shearer break your left-back's ankle. Chelsea end with nine men and Newcastle go through.
Arsenal and Spurs managed to avoid getting knocked out, but they really should have done better. Spurs obviously thought that after buying their two best players, a victory over Nottingham Forest should have been no problem. They were wrong, and after a 1-1 draw they now face a replay at the City Ground on the 2nd of March. Arsenal played their second string in a bad-tempered (no really...I know....I couldn't see that happening either) match against Sheffield United at Highbury. Neil Warnock's team deserved the 1-1 draw and they have every chance of finishing the job in the replay. If Arsenal are going to avoid defeat, they are going to have to try and finish the game with 11 men, which means that Arsene is going to have to have a little tete a tete with his diminutive Spanish striker, Jose Antonio Reyes.
What WAS he up to? They weren't even proper slaps! It looked as if he was trying to wipe a bogey on Danny Cullip's cheek! Bah. If the FA is serious about cleaning up the game, they should make Reyes play Arsenal's next three games with a pair of those massive foam hands that all the Yank sports fans insist on waving around. That'll learn him.
Doom and gloom abound then. But no! There was one ray of light that shone through the darkness and enabled Londonist to proclaim once again "I do love football! And I do love this city!". 'Mad Dog' Martin Allen began his Saturday by jumping in the Solent, in order to inspire his Brentford side, then he went on to see them claim a 2-2 draw against Southampton with strikes from Rankin and Sodje, and then finished his day by telling reporters "I'm not mad. I'm brilliant." Wonderful stuff. The replay will take place on Tuesday 1st March, come on the Bees!
For those who haven't already seen it, here is the draw for the quarter-finals :
Newcastle United v Spurs or Forest
Brentford or Southampton v Manchester United (oooooh!)
Bolton v Arsenal or Sheffield United
Burnley or Blackburn v Leicester City (yawn.)
Away from the Cup, Millwall dropped off the pace in the first, going down 1-0 at home to Stoke City, whilst the Hammers climbed back into the play-off places with a 5-0 hammering of Plymouth Argyle. As usual, we finish with Orient, who lost 1-0 away to Scunthorpe. Glamour.