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FA Cup 5th Round Recap

FA Cup FA Cup 5th Round Recap

Seven out of the eight FA Cup 5th Round ties were settled this weekend, with only the Middlesbrough-Sheffield United pairing in need of a replay. That match will come at the Riverside on the 26th, but both teams will be in the hat for tomorrow’s quarterfinal draw.

Two surprise teams will be joining the aforementioned sides and the other five winners in that draw.

Barnsley, currently sitting in 14th place out of 24 in the Coca-Cola Championship, shocked Liverpool at Anfield by coming away with a 2-1 victory, a match which I covered in my last post.

The lowest-placed team left in this tournament, Bristol Rovers, hosted Southampton and won 1-0 on an 84th minute free kick from Richard Lambert. The Pirates are in 13th place out of 24 in League One right now and were only promoted to England’s third-tier league last May after defeating Shrewsbury Town 3-1 in the League Two Playoff. This is a team who has now defeated at least one team in every division of the Football League in this year’s FA Cup. They’re riding the wave of success and have become the sentimental favorites to win this competition.

Portsmouth were fortunate to escape Preston with a 1-0 win as it took a 93rd minute own-goal to save the South Coast side from a home replay. David James showed why he’s been selected as England’s number one goalkeeper with a PK save on the hour mark. The most compelling storyline of the game didn’t even come to fruition; David Nugent wasn’t fit enough to play for Pompey in what would have been a return against the club for which he starred before moving on last summer.

Manchester United sent a convicingly strong message to Arsenal in a 4-0 home victory for the Red Devils. Arsene Wenger played a nearly full-strength lineup so there can be no excuses about that, and United showed that they’re a different team when Wayne Rooney is on the field. The title race is not over yet; Arsenal will have to go back to Old Trafford in April and this FA Cup match served them notice that they better come ready to play.

Elsewhere, Chelsea took care of business at home against Huddersfield Town (3-1), and Coventry City thumped West Bromwich Albion 5-0 on the road in a battle of two recent Premiership sides.

Complete FA Cup 5th Round Scores:

Bristol Rovers-1, Southampton-0
Barnsley-2, Liverpool-1
Cardiff City-2, Wolverhampton-0
West Bromwich Albion-5, Coventry City-0
Chelsea-3, Huddersfield Town-1
Manchester United-4, Arsenal-0
Sheffield United-0, Middlesbrough-0
Portsmouth-1, Preston North End-0

Note: Premiership teams are in bold

As I said earlier, the quarterfinal draw will be made tomorrow morning here on the East Coast. You can find full coverage and analysis of that on this site and at englishsoccertalk.blogspot.com.

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6 Responses to FA Cup 5th Round Recap

  1. timmyg says:

    call me crazy but the more prem teams out the better. i really hope manu draws with chelsea. and boro (assuming they win) with pompey.

    it may be suicidal from an advertising perspective, but an fa cup final with two minnows would be great for the game and for the cup itself.

    honestly, who wouldnt want to watch a bristol rovers/barnsley final for novelties sake??

  2. llewellyn says:

    The possibility of watching two lower level clubs outside the premiership battling for the FA Cup would be epic! Unlikely… but epic!

  3. jm says:

    I think to say that Arsenal played a “nearly full strength lineup” is missing the mark. Of course there can be no excuses for a 4-0 defeat. But that doesn’t make the claim anymore true!

    Arsenal was playing their backup keeper, two backup fullbacks, a backup striker (two if you still consider van Persie the other starting striker), a backup central midfielder, and a central defender and a right wing player who have not played for Arsenal since before the ACN.

    By my count, they played with 2 players who are not in the first team (Hoyte and Traore), 3 players who are first team backups (Bendtner, Lehman and Gilberto) and 2 players who have been out of the side for a month.

    Again, this is not an excuse. You are absolutely right that there is no excuse for a 4-0 drubbing. But the only way to make sense of the “full strength” comment is if we turn the clock back to when Gilberto and Lehman were starters.

  4. Michael says:

    It’s a fair point in some respects, but I have to disagree with you.

    Lehmann and Almunia are basically on the same level, which is subpar. I don’t consider Lehmann to be a backup in the traditional sense of the term because of his international experience with Germany and his club experience in Germany and England. Remember, Lehmann started for Arsenal since he joined the club in 2003 and Almunia only gained the permanent job this year because Lehmann was injured.

    I’ll give you your point about Arsenal playing their second-choice fullbacks; Hoyte is a step below Sagna and Traore isn’t at Clichy’s level yet; though he will be in a couple of years.

    I don’t consider there to be any dropoff when you put Gilberto Silva in the lineup instead of Flamini; I think that’s a wash and while they both offer some different qualities, they by and large carry out the same role. Silva is much more experienced than Flamini, and that can make up for the fact that he’s getting up there in age and has lost a step.

    Fair point about Bendtner and Adebayor; Adebayor is on spectacular form right now. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again though: I think Bendtner is going to be a better player than Adebayor and if I had to pick one of those two to keep and get rid of the other, I’d take Bendtner because of his potential.

    You can’t make the point about those two players having been out of the side due to African Cup of Nations duty. It would be one thing if those players were out of the side due to injury and hadn’t been playing competitive matches because they weren’t fit, but that’s not the case. Toure and Eboue were playing high-level, international games. They had been back in training at Arsenal for a while, so I don’t buy that point.

    As I said though, it’s a decent argument and that’s just my opinion on the matter. Thanks for the feedback.

  5. jm says:

    Well opinions can be mistaken, mine or yours, so forgive me if I press the argument ^^

    I disagree that Lehmann is as good as Almunia, but I would agree that the difference between them is rather slight.

    I do also think the Sagna/Clichy vs Hoyte/Traore difference is substantial. Arsenal does not play with many wingers, and need those overlapping fullbacks. Traore can give the side that, but cannot match Clichy in ability to track back and help defensively. This was readily apparent in the match. Hoyte, conversely, does not offer the same ability going forward.

    The place I have to give my most strenuous disagreement, however, is your Gilberto-Flamini comparison. Flamini has been on the form of his life this season, and has been an absolute terrier. His speed and tenacity around the pitch have been invaluable in protecting the Arsenal defense while Sagna/Clichy come forward, and has also allowed Fabregas to play a bit further forward. Gilberto, if he were playing at the same level he was last season, would be a wash with Flamini. But this season there has been no comparison. Gilberto has been slow and clumsy in tackles. While experience surely rests on his side, there has been no comparison in their form throughout this season. This impression was backed up by taking a look through the player ratings at the Arsenal blog Goodplaya for recent matches the two have played. Last five player ratings (starts):

    Flamini – 7 / 7.5 / 8.5 / 7.5 / 7
    Gilberto – 4 / 5.5 / 7 / 5.5 / 6

    Not exactly conclusive evidence of course (what is in football?), but it does provide some prima facie support for my own impressions watching the two of them play this season.

    Finally, regarding the Cup of Nations, I think it is certainly relevant since the claim was that it was nearly a full strength side. Training for a week after traveling to and playing on a different continent does not bring players back up to their former level of comfort in the side, fluency with their teammates and fitness. Players typically have a dip in form following international duty, and both these players were involved right down to the final weekend.

    Anyway, again, I don’t think it is an excuse for the side. But since the first choice 11 for Arsenal is:

    Almunia / Sagna / Gallas / Toure / Clichy / Hleb / Fabregas / Flamini / Rosicky / van Persie / Adebayor

    and the lineup put out there on Saturday was different at 6 of those positions (five if we replace Eduardo with van Persie since van Persie has been out for so long), I think they weren’t close to full strength.

    Incidentally, I think this is exactly the reason why the later claim by your co-author BillEShears was spot on – Arsenal are spread too thin right now for three cup competitions.

  6. Michael says:

    That was exactly what I mentioned in my “New Year’s Resolutions” post, in which I picked out a couple things that I believed each Premiership side needed to concentrate on or do in the new year.

    Regarding Arsenal, my point was pick either the Champions League or the Premier League and go for one of them, not both. I didn’t even mention the FA Cup in that because for big clubs like Arsenal, it’s a secondary trophy. Arsenal is too inexperienced and thin, and I hesitate to say young because that’s not quite true, to try and complete a double or a treble, and both you and Ty (BillEShears) identified that as well.

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