Arsenal blow it, but City look good after sixth-round draw

Feb 18, 2013

Gunners face another season of woe; City and Wigan are only top flight teams to make last eight

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AFTER the shock of Arsenal's FA Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn and Oldham's fine fight-back against Everton on Saturday, the Premier League clubs upped their game on Sunday as Manchester City, Chelsea and Wigan all disposed of lower-league opposition.

However, the quarter final draw for the Cup is far from finalised as Manchester United must do battle with Reading tonight, Everton face a replay against Oldham and Chelsea have yet to take on Middlesbrough.

There were plenty of talking points from the weekend's action:

Manchester City were big winners against Leeds in the FA Cup and then got lucky again in the quarter-final draw as they were handed a home tie against Championship strugglers Barnsley. City now have the easiest path to the semi-finals of all the big guns. Indeed they and Wigan are the only top-flight clubs sure of a place in the last eight. Everton must overcome Oldham and then Wigan if they are to make the last four, and at least one of Manchester United and Chelsea will be missing after they were drawn together, provided they get through their fifth round ties, which have yet to be played.

There will definitely be lower-league representation in the FA Cup semi-finals after giant-killers Millwall and Blackburn were drawn together in the last eight. Although both Championship sides might be disappointed to miss out on more glamorous opposition, the draw does offer them a real chance of making it to Wembley. Both sides have beaten top-flight opposition on their cup runs and will believe they can make it into the last four.

The natural order of things was restored on Sunday as the Premier League clubs all hit four against lower league opposition. But on Saturday Arsenal were beaten and Everton held - this season the smaller clubs have had a field day against their Premier League rivals. Before Sunday there had been 12 games between top flight teams and lower league opposition in rounds four and five of the cup. The Premier League sides had won only four of those games, with two drawn and six lost.

Another trophy-less season looms for Arsenal after their shocking defeat to Blackburn on Saturday. The boos that echoed around the Emirates after the final whistle told their own story as the critics rounded on Arsene Wenger and his team selection. Had Arsenal won the match, his decision to rest key men ahead of the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday would not have caused controversy but in the light of the result it looks as though he got his priorities muddled. The Gunners have sacrificed a trophy they could have won and are concentrating their efforts on one they surely cannot.

Frank Lampard and John Terry both got on the score sheet as Chelsea overcame their local rivals Brentford in their fourth-round replay on Sunday. Lampard scored his 199th goal in Chelsea colours and is now just three behind record-holder Bobby Tamblin who scored 202 for the Blues. Remarkably, though, his future is still undecided. Terry's goal came in only his third start under Rafa Benitez, but it gave the former England man the chance to insist that he had not fallen out with the manager, despite reports he is being ushered towards the exit.

Roberto Mancini earned himself a stay of execution as Manchester City overcame Leeds on Sunday, but the emphatic result could mean the end of the road for Leeds boss Neil Warnock. The Yorkshire club's fans chanted for Warnock's head during the match and it seems that a year after he was appointed by Leeds he will be lucky to make it to the end of the season.

On a weekend of cup action there was only one Premier League match, and it saw Liverpool destroy Swansea 5-0 at Anfield. The result lifts the Reds above the Welsh side and up to seventh in the table. Swansea rested their big players ahead of the League Cup final next week but a thrashing like that is not ideal preparation for the Wembley date with Bradford on Sunday.

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