Thoughts from a Cup-filled weekend: o If you dropped in from outerspace, or were watching, say, from the United States, it may have been difficult to tell which was the top flight team when Newcastle fell to Gus Poyet's Brighton Hove and Albion on Saturday. Then again, if the Magpies keep up their current form, the two squads may be playing each other again next year -- twice -- in the Championship. o Somehow the all-Premier League ties just don't carry the same type of "magic" as the David vs. Goliath contests. No doubt West Ham vs. United was an excellent game -- how could you not admire Joe Cole's inspiring return to where his career began, and Robin Van Persie's artful catch and release in stoppage time -- but for our money we'd much rather be watching Liverpool vs Mansfield Town any day of the week, especially when the "bigger" team has to travel to the smaller side's ground. o And speaking of Liverpool vs Mansfield Town, did you take a look at that pitch? That's what this FA Cup thing is all about. That pitch was pure goat patch, and Liverpool had to go in there and make the best of it. Tiny Mansfield almost pulled off the upset of the round, but a helping hand from Liverpool's Uruguayan superstar was enough to see off the Stags and put the Reds through to the next round. o Of all the parties involved in the latest Suarez brouhaha, however, it was ESPN which managed to embarass themselves the most -- quite a feat, this, given that both Luis Suarez and the Liverpool FC press office were involved. After ESPN commentator Jon Champion branded Suarez' latest piece of handiwork "illegal," "nefarious," and the "work of a cheat," the political correctness police pressured ESPN into disciplining their announcer for offering his forthright opinion on the matter. Compounding their error, ESPN then went on to extol their right to free speech, as follows:
"We take our responsibility to deliver the highest standards of coverage to our viewers," said an ESPN spokesman. "ESPN's editorial policy is for commentators to be unbiased and honest, to call things as they see them (italics added). Inevitably this can involve treading a fine line on occasion, especially in the heat of the moment."
o To which we say, we guess you can call 'em as you see 'em, as long as you're not being critical of Liverpool FC.
o At the other end of the spectrum, Chelsea looked cool as a cucumber in their 5-1 destruction of Southampton, a side which had been in decent form and was the team playing at home. If Demba Ba continues to click right into the Chelsea offense as he did on Saturday, Fernando Torres has got to be seriously worried. Bagging a brace in his first outing in Blue will endear the Senegalese striker to the Stamford Bridge crowd, and if Chelsea were to add -- as rumored -- Radamel Falcao in the off-season, the Blues could suddenly become the team to beat next year. Quite a signing for £7.5 million.... This is farlieonfootie for January 9.