FA Cup: Chelsea face Man City and Arsenal play Liverpool
Mourinho gets a birthday present to remember as Chelsea move into last 16 thanks to Oscar strike
CHELSEA gave manager Jose Mourinho a decent 51st birthday present on Sunday, a 1-0 defeat of Stoke City to take the Blues into the fifth round of the FA Cup. However, he may have been less pleased to afterwards be gifted an away tie at Manchester City in the last 16.
But that blockbuster tie and Arsenal's game against Liverpool does mean that only two of the Premier League top four will make it through to the quarter finals this year.
Earlier at Stamford Bridge Oscar scored the only goal of the game, a beautiful curling free-kick on 27 minutes that beat Asmir Begovic all ends up, as Chelsea dominated their visitors in a rain-lashed encounter.
The win means that Chelsea have reached the fifth round of England's showpiece cup competition for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, but they made life hard themselves, missing a glut of chances that against a better side might have proved costly.
"One-nil is short for the way we played and controlled the game," said Mourinho, who confirmed before the start of the game that Chelsea had signed Basel winger Mohamed Salah on a five-and-a-half-year contract. "But the important thing was to win and not replay because we don't need an extra match."
Instead the Blues can look forward to their fifth round trip to Manchester City. The pair of Premier League powerhouses were drawn together as were Arsenal and Liverpool with the Gunners hosting the Reds on the weekend of February 15/16.
"No problem," declared Mourinho, on hearing of the draw for the last 16. "If you want to be the best then you have to play the best, so it's good for us. One team is the end product. One team needs to improve and has a long way to go."
Presumably the team that needs to 'improve' is his own side, although there were times during City's 4-2 victory at home to Watford on Saturday when City hardly looked the real deal. Nonetheless the Sky Blues made it through, as did Arsenal and Liverpool who had little trouble seeing off Coventry and Bournemouth in their fourth round matches.
The draw means that in the space of 11 days next month the Gunners will have to take on Liverpool twice (in the league as well as the cup), Manchester United and Bayern Munich, the latter in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Among the other ties to catch the eye, holders Wigan Athletic of the Championship (who knocked out Premier league strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday) travel to Cardiff City, while in another juicy all Premier League clash, Everton host Swansea at Goodison Park.
FA Cup Fifth Round draw:
Manchester City v Chelsea
Sheffield United or Fulham v Nottingham Forest or Preston North End
Arsenal v Liverpool
Brighton & Hove Albion v Hull City
Cardiff City v Wigan Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic
Sunderland v Southampton
Everton v Swansea City