It has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho is set to return to Chelsea in the near future, but Matt Stanger ponders whether this is really a good thing for the Blues and the PL...
Roll up, roll up to have a good laugh at your Football365 scribes, as we look back on our pre-season predictions to see who was wrong, who was right and who was stupid...
Villa's Set-Piece Woes Continue
Whilst you may consider losing to a Championship side an improvement over defeat to League Two opposition, it would be straw-clutching of an impressively high order. Paul Lambert is a manager on the edge as his Aston Villa side succumbed to another humbling defeat.
As one wag mentioned on Twitter, it was fitting that the scorers of Millwall's two goals on Friday were named Shittu and Marquis, because they hint at one of Villa's most evident problems.
Last season, the club conceded 25 goals from set-pieces, a statistic that indirectly led to Alex McLeish losing his job. After inadequate set-piece marking cost Villa against West Brom last weekend, Lambert addressed the issue: "It's not rocket science. You go man-for-man. You just make sure you put your head on it. I'm not sure why it keeps happening."
And again after Friday's defeat: "The first goal was a set-piece and the second was just a crossed ball. The first was just a bog-standard corner."
When players show an inability to follow basic orders, the buck usually stops with one man.
Is Rafa Benitez Running Out Of Ideas?
Perhaps the biggest frustration of Rafa Benitez's reign for Chelsea fans is the manager's delayed reaction when the Blues are struggling. For the fourth game in a row Chelsea faded in the second half and required Benitez to find a solution, but the interim boss's first idea was to replace Branislav Ivanovic with Cesar Azpilicueta in a like-for-like change.
Eventually Demba Ba arrived to assist Fernando Torres' equalising goal, but if the striker had been introduced earlier the Blues may have avoided a fatiguing FA Cup replay in an already-packed schedule.
"Why did you leave it so late to send Ba on?" reporters asked following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Brentford. "Because the team was doing well," replied Benitez. But a draw against League One opposition and three wins in the last eight matches isn't good enough for a team of Chelsea's quality and the manager will need to oversee a rapid improvement if the Blues are to avoid another cup exit in the Europa League.
Glenn Whelan Latest To Demonstrate Reckless Cowardice
The use of two-footed challenges is a cause célèbre within today's game and Glenn Whelan is the latest player to go under the spotlight.
His 'tackle' on Javi Garcia was wild, and certainly showed 'complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent' - the definition used to decide whether a red card is appropriate. Both feet were in the air and stamped down on the calf of Garcia. The only saving grace is that the Spanish midfielder was not seriously hurt.
Tony Pulis is a staunch defender of his players, but he must be left fuming by Whelan's wilful negligence. There is no defence for such cowardice in the tackle, and the Stoke manager would do well to discipline Whelan for his actions. Such incidents merely establish reputations further.
Thankfully, given Howard Webb's failure to even caution Whelan for the challenge, the Stoke man should expect a letter from the FA and a punishment for his stupidity. In a week where the whole of football has seemingly lost their collective sh*t about Eden Hazard's altercation with the Swansea ball boy, Whelan's challenge was far more serious.
Liverpool's Inconsistency Plumbs New Depths
Brendan Rodgers has made several calls for Liverpool to show more consistency over the past month and the manager will be bitterly disappointed with his team's performance in their embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Oldham.
The result is even harder to swallow after the Reds' fantastic display against Norwich in their previous fixture, in which Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge demonstrated an exciting understanding.
But both strikers were surprisingly subdued on Sunday and it wasn't until Steven Gerrard arrived to take the captain's armband from Suarez that Liverpool really sparked into life.
As we move closer to the final third of the season, the Reds can no longer afford any slip-ups if they are to remain in the hunt for fourth in the Premier League and Rodgers must ensure that the FA Cup exit doesn't leave a harmful hangover.
Wednesday's clash with Arsenal at the Emirates will go a long way in deciding Liverpool's ambitions for the rest of the campaign and the manager may be left to reflect on two wasted opportunities before a tough test against Man City on Sunday.
Giroud Brings Cheer To Arsenal
Olivier Giroud has suffered somewhat for a problem he can do nothing about: he simply isn't Robin van Persie. This season was always going to be after the Lord Mayor's show for Arsenal fans, and Giroud's struggles in front of goal have been well-documented.
Well, prick back your ears and listen to this: Van Persie scored ten goals in his first 50 league appearances for Arsenal. So far this season, Giroud has 13 goals in 33 games, a more than satisfactory return.
Whilst the Frenchman's two finishes against Brighton were registered with suitable aplomb, most pleasing for Arsenal's travelling fans will have been the link-up between Abou Diaby and Giroud for the striker's second goal. It was reminiscent, dare I say it, of Van Persie and Alex Song on occasion last season.
Giroud may not be the second coming of Jesus, Elvis Presley reborn or the new Van Persie, but he's still a damn good striker at times.
An Ode To Pablo Zabaleta
Is there a better role model in the Premier League than Pablo Zabaleta?
The Argentine epitomises all that we should cherish in a footballer. He is paid well for what he does, but in an age of complacency it is immediately evident that he cares as much as supporters would like, and is highly regarded amongst the backroom staff at Eastlands thanks to his continued commitment to community visits.
His stamina and fitness are beyond question, but it is his attacking influence that has become particularly noteworthy. He has four goals in his last 20 domestic appearances (a better record than James Milner and David Silva, amongst others), and his assured calm has seen Micah Richards become a forgotten man at City.
City have spent £492million on 36 players since Zabaleta arrived in August 2008. Not many of them have been as important or as loved.
Making Changes A Dangerous Game
Both Harry Redknapp and Chris Hughton made significant changes for games against lower-league opposition, and both paid a heavy price. In truth, neither side should have struggled at home, especially given the experience on show (QPR's side contained seven internationals), but the FA Cup is not a tournament that can be taken lightly.
The position of Swansea as odds-on favourites to win one of the three domestic trophies should have sent a message through the Premier League that there is no Top Four monopoly on the country's silverware. But it appears that certain players failed to get the memo. Both QPR and Norwich started slowly on Saturday and only stepped up the urgency when their ships had already sailed.
Just how much damage can a shellacking at home do? Instant evidence can be sourced from the vociferous boos at Roads Carrow and Loftus, and supporters will feel that they have been significantly short-changed by their club.
The true impact of such humiliation will be seen in the forthcoming weeks, but both clubs at least owe their fans heartfelt apologies for such inept displays.
Andre Villas-Boas Failed To Judge The Occasion
Andre Villas-Boas is normally known for his obsessive attention to detail, but the manager's team selection left much to be desired in Spurs' 2-1 defeat to Leeds.
You may be astonished to learn that Villas-Boas has not picked the same centre-back pairing in consecutive matches since October, and his decision to partner Steven Caulker and Jan Vertonghen on Sunday proved costly in Spurs' sorry exit.
Firstly, both Caulker and Vertonghen usually play on the left and so the young England international was forced to start on his weaker side where he struggled against the lively runs of Ross McCormack and Luke Varney. It was a situation that could easily have been avoided had Michael Dawson not been left on the bench.
Furthermore, Dawson would have been a better candidate to deal with Leeds' aerial onslaught. Villas-Boas may have concerns over the England international's suitability for his favoured high line, but on Sunday the manager should have told his team to sit deep to negate their opponent's leading threat of straight long balls into the box.
Instead Spurs looked woefully disorganised in defence, with Caulker and Vertonghen repeatedly forced to turn and chase Leeds' punts back towards their own goal line. Villas-Boas had the opportunity to change the team's shape at half time, and he was culpable for a disappointing cup exit through his inaction.
Nani Missed A Chance To Shine
There was little for Manchester United to gain from their cup game against Fulham. From the moment Aaron Hughes took leave of his senses to hand the home side the lead there was only going to be one winner, and United were never forced out of a comfortably low gear.
Such occasions do allow attacking options the chance to impress, but Nani missed his opportunity. His decision-making in the final third still leaves much to be desired, and the quality of his final ball consistently drew groans from an expectant Old Trafford crowd.
The Portuguese winger may not get many more chances. Nani is no longer a potential prospect for the future (he is 27 this year), and his manager has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal on the right wing.
Fergie's purchase of Wilfried Zaha will surely force one of United's wide options out of the club. At the moment, Nani seems the ideal candidate for departure.
ITV And ESPN Ignore Cup 'Magic'
Saturday's live games were both pedestrian, verging on dull. But was this any surprise? Both were all-Premier League affairs that in a league sense would not be viewed as stellar fixtures.
There is a great deal of guff written about the 'magic of the cup', but surely the TV schedulers should be playing on that very abstract concept in a bid to attract viewers to their live games.
Where was the possibility of the glorious upset with Macclesfield v Wigan or Norwich v Luton? Where was the potential for an open, flowing game with Brighton v Arsenal? And where was the banana skin of Bolton v Everton or QPR v MK Dons. All five ties would have provided added interest to the neutral, and yet both broadcasters opted to stick rather than twist. Viewers were punished with low-key affairs, whilst the decision makers paid a heavy price with high-profile upsets elsewhere.