Worst FA Cup XI: Benteke and Man Utd midfield flop
TEAMtalk selects the worst XI from the weekend’s FA Cup action with Christian Benteke and Man Utd’s midfield taking the dubious honours.
There were some pretty bad performances in the biggest domestic cup competition of them all, notably Liverpool’s draw at Exeter, Manchester United’s narrow win over Sheffield United, Swansea City’s defeat at Oxford United and Aston Villa’s embarrassing draw at Wycombe.
Here are our worst performers from the weekend…
Adam Bogdan: There were a few eyebrows raised when the former Bolton man arrived at Anfield in the summer and those eyebrows have not fallen. He has made only five starts and one in the Premier League – the 3-0 thumping at Watford.
The 28-year-old was wheeled back out by Jurgen Klopp at Exeter on Friday night and managed to put in a display which was devoid of any authority or confidence, capping his display off by conceding straight from a corner.
James Chester: West Brom are believed to be desperate to offload the former Manchester United man, who arrived for £8million in the summer. The defender has been well short of the level required in the Premier League and looked out of his depth in the 2-2 FA Cup draw with Bristol City on Saturday.
Chester has made just seven appearances this term and picked up three yellow cards – and his display against the Robins will not have alerted any potential suitors for the 26-year-old.
Ciaran Clark: Not many Villa players came away from Adams Park with any credit on Saturday and Clark was certainly one of Villa’s poorest performers. The 26-year-old had a decent season last year, but he has struggled to get an understanding together at the heart of the defence and was pulled all over the place by Wycombe.
He stood up to the physical battle against the League Two side but was well short of the commanding presence he should have been against a bottom-tier side.
Jose Enrique: The Spanish defender looked like he was running in treacle in the 2-2 cup draw at Exeter. When asked whether Enrique could play at centre-back on Friday Jurgen Klopp replied with: “Who?”
Klopp might have wished he didn’t know who the former Newcastle United man was after he was beaten for pace for Exeter’s first goal and plodded through the 90 minutes with a hugely forgettable display.
Kyle Bartley: Another man who did his first-team chances all sorts of harm after a reckless display in the 3-2 defeat at Oxford.
The Swansea back four were a shambles as they allowed their League Two opposition a whole host of good chances – the hosts in fact managed 16 shots on the Swans goal. And Bartley was the integral figure for the visitors as he failed to marshal a struggling backline.
He also gave away a first-half penalty after recklessly lunging in on Alex McDonald in the box.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: A World Cup winner and respected German international, we might have expected Schweini to stamp his authority on the game against Sheffield United, but he was a passenger.
His passing was sideways and barely took any opposition players out of the game and he was beaten too easily on several occasions by his midfield opponents. The 31-year-old looked finished and lacking fight and almost crippled himself by trying to shoot in a 50/50 challenge in the second half.
Ander Herrera: A folk hero at Old Trafford, but he was lightweight and ineffective against the Blades. He was somehow applauded off by the Stretford End despite a pretty dire showing after lasting 60 agonising minutes.
He failed to impose himself on the game and was too slow and predictable in possession, but he was in good company in United’s abysmal midfield.
Juan Mata: The Spaniard just edged out Marouane Fellaini to make the team. Mata’s ability should have shone out against a defence which sat relatively deep.
He played out on the right, but his delivery into the box was woeful and his passing inside was too deliberate and lacked any guile. Needed to get on the front foot and take some responsibilty but far too often he passed the ball on.
Christian Benteke: The big striker skippered a youthful Liverpool side at Exeter – a decision which Jurgen Klopp might well regret. If the German coach was hoping to get the best out of the Belgian by handing him the armband then his plan backfired.
The former Villa man was a fringe figure in a side that only had 135 first-team appearances between them. He saw a close-range header well saved in the second half and that was about as good as it got for Benteke, who hardly got a kick against League Two opposition.
James Vaughan: The striker apologised after the match for his “terrible” penalty miss in the defeat to Bournemouth. The injury-proned frontman had just renewed his loan from Huddersfield for the rest of the season, but skying a second-half penalty well over the Cherries’ bar was not the way to celebrate.
Rudy Gestede: There were some bad performers in the cup this weekend, but none worse than Gestede. The striker was virtually non-existent as Villa could only manage a 1-1 draw at Wycombe.
Remi Garde might well have expected the powerful Gestede to bully his lowly opponents, but he showed little appetite for the battle, headed wide and showed little or no movement throughout.