Chelsea failed to win at home again this season, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge. Chris Hughton’s men have been on an outstanding run of form in the Championship of late, and, on Saturday’s evidence, it’s not difficult to see why. Birmingham took the lead on 20 minutes; failure to deal with a ball across the box allowed David Murphy to score at the far post. They carried that lead into the break, despite Chelsea being awarded a penalty shortly afterwards. Juan Mata’s spot kick was brilliantly tipped on to the post by Doyle.
The Londoners, who equalised through a Daniel Sturridge header on 62 minutes, were more threatening after the interval, thanks mainly to the replacement of Torres with Drogba, although Kalou added more attacking impetus too, in place of Mikel. Chelsea, although they had a couple of chances, never looked like winning, and the Brummies held on for a draw, heaping more pressure on Villas Boas. Abramovic’s team were booed off at full time and during the game home fans chanted the name of, former manager, Jose Mourinho; not music to Villas Boas’ or Abramovic’s ears.
Bolton continue to advance in the F.A. Cup, putting poor league form to one side on Saturday, they overcame Millwall in a tricky away tie at the New Den. The Lions beat high flying Championship side Southampton in the last round, and Kenny Jackett’s side will have fancied their chances of causing another upset against the Premier League relegation favourites. It wasn’t to be, however, as Arsenal loanee, Miyachi, curled the Trotters in front after just four minutes.
Millwall had chances to equalise, they came closest when Steinsson almost put through his own net before half-time, and then five minutes after the break when Paul Robinson headed wide from a corner. David N’gog made it 0-2 on the hour mark, effectively ending the tie; Tuncay picked up on an error from Robinson, played it to N’gog, and the former Liverpool man found the net. Bogdan was forced into action on a couple more occasions as Millwall rallied, but, their efforts would be in vain, and Wanderer’s go through.
Probably the biggest shock of the round saw, Championship side, Leicester City, knock out, Premier League, Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday. The Canaries had been on an exceptional run of form in all competitions, and their consistency in recent weeks has seen them plant themselves in the top half of the table. City, on the other hand, despite heavy investment, have struggled for form this season, and even with a change of management, the Foxes have been inconsistent to say the least. It was the Championship side who took an early lead through Sean St. Ledger, and they were good value for the advantage, bombarding their opponents with a barrage of balls into the box and excellent pressing off the ball.
The home side drew level half way through the first half, Hoolihan with the rebound, after his own penalty was saved by Schmeichel. Chances at both ends followed, and Leicester thought they’d bagged a second, however, Morgan’s effort was judged not to have crossed the line before Ward scrambled it clear. In the second half, the opportunities continued to come, and Norwich almost took the lead through Russell Martin, but Konchesky got there in the nick of time to clear the danger. Paul Lambert’s team were never really in control of this one, and that was confirmed when David Nugent latched on to Jermaine Beckford’s ball 19 minutes from time, and finished well to seal a famous Foxes triumph.
Stoke City eased past Crawley Town in what might have been a tricky away tie on Sunday afternoon. The League Two side, although the lowest placed side left in the competition at the 5th round stage, have been in wonderful form this season, and were looking to go one better than last year when they were beaten at this stage by Manchester United. They may have advanced further in the competition than Ferguson’s side have managed this season, but their run was put to an end by a professional Stoke performance on Sunday.
After a nervy opening, The Potters had Rory Delap, harshly, and in my view, wrongly, sent off on 16 minutes, but were able to maintain a foothold in the game and, eventually, took the lead through a Jonathan Walters penalty on 42 minutes, after a very soft award in favour of Ryan Shawcross. The Potters never looked back, and Peter Crouch confirmed their victory seven minutes after half-time with an angled header from a Whelan free-kick. Crawley, though spirited, never really threatened after that initial period at the beginning of the match, and Stoke deservedly progress.
Martin O’ Neill’s Sunderland claimed their revenge on Arsenal for last week’s injury time league defeat at the Stadium of Light on Saturday night. Arsene Wenger’s team were fortunate to take the points last weekend, and after their humiliation in Europe on Wednesday, the Black Cats energy, commitment and quality was just too much for them. A bright, pacey start by the visitors suggested that they meant business, however, an injury to Coquelin after ten minutes, meant that Squillaci came on to replace him, and Arsenal, now infamous for their inability to overcome adversity, could not adapt. Sunderland took advantage five minutes before half-time, Larsson’s free-kick was cleared as far as Richardson, who slammed the ball across Fabianski, via a slight deflection, into the bottom corner.
After the break, Wenger replaced Ramsey, who’d put in another poor performance, with Rosicky, and Squillaci with Walcott, but to no avail as the Gunners were simply second best all over the pitch. Though they pressed for an equaliser, Arsenal’s fate was sealed in the 78th minute when, the effervescent Sessegnon released Larsson, his shot came back off the post, only for Oxlaide Chamberlain to inadvertently bundle the loose ball into his own net. 10 wins in 15 games for Sunderland under O’Neill, as opposed to Wenger’s side who’ve crashed out of two competitions in the same week. Arsenal fans left with a distinct feeling of déjà vu.
Everton booked their place in the quarter finals of the F.A. Cup in double quick time at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. Two goals in the opening six minutes were enough for the Toffees to see off Blackpool and put them into the draw for the 6thRound. The Tangerines will have arrived on Merseyside in a hopeful frame of mind, bearing in mind their team’s exceptional league run of late, however, Everton exploded out of the blocks, catching the Seasiders cold, and the two early goals effectively sealed the tie.
Royston Drenthe scored the first after less than a minute, curling in a lovely finish from Fellaini’s pass, before Denis Stracqualursi tapped in his second goal in two games for the home side. Blackpool had chances of their own, hitting the woodwork twice through Lualua and Kevin Phillips, before Phillips missed a penalty late on. Everton, however, without the injured Donovan and the cup-tied Pienaar, controlled the game and had further opportunities to add to their lead, notably through Stracqualursi. 2-0 the final score and Everton’s unbeaten run stretches to seven games now, a good time to be hitting form.
Stevenage of League One surprised Harry Redknapp, Tottenham, and Spurs fans, by holding the high flying Premier League club to a 0-0 draw on Sunday. The visitors, without Modric, van der Vaart and Adebayor, had difficulty getting their game going on a less than perfect surface. However that can be no excuse, and the League One outfit have to be given credit for their energy levels, persistence and some wonderful play at times.
Spurs, who had a goal disallowed for offside shortly after break, created little and were poor for large periods of the match. The introduction of Aaron Lennon as a late substitute, almost did the trick, as his pace panicked the Stevenage back four, but the lower league side kept their nerve and held on to set up a famous, money spinning replay at White Hart Lane.
Finally, Liverpool ran out 6-1 winners at Anfield on Sunday evening. Goals from Skrtel, Carroll and Suarez, plus three own goals, did the damage as the Reds march on and the Seagulls flew out of the F.A. Cup. A full match report is available on this site. https://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/gulls-all-at-sea-as-reds-run-riot/
Provisional F.A. Cup Quarter-Final Draw
Liverpool vs Stoke City
Chelsea/Birmingham City vs Leicester City
Everton vs Sunderland
Stevenage/Tottenham vs Bolton
There are still two 5th round ties to be decided, these will play to a finish on the week of 5th March, the finalised draw will appear on this site following the conclusion of these ties.