Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – the last four winners of football’s oldest cup competition – advanced to the penultimate round with away victories this weekend in England.
After Manchester United beat Norwich 2-1 in overtime on Saturday, Arsenal knocked down Sheffield United 2-1, Chelsea beat Leicester City 1-0, and Manchester City champions were defeated 2-0 in Newcastle on Sunday.
In the semi-finals next month at Wembley in London, Manchester City faced Arsenal – Mikel Arteta was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at City before becoming Gunner’s manager in December – and Manchester United faced Chelsea.
City knocked down Arsenal 3-0 two weeks ago as the Premier League continued behind closed doors during a coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, Arsenal needed a goal in the second half from midfielder injury midfielder Dani Ceballos to advance to Sheffield. That’s after the Blades equalized in the 87th minute through David McGoldrick.
Sheffield United – the eighth in the Premier League, after being promoted from the second row – had two goals that were disabled due to offside. But both times seemed to be the right decisions.
Relief for Arteta
Arsenal sit below Sheffield United in a top flight, but won the second straight game. He also leads with 13 FA Cup titles, one more than Manchester United.
“I am really pleased with the result. This is a difficult place to come and win,” Arteta told reporters. “After we admitted so late, showing reaction is not easy and it’s very enjoyable and we’re at Wembley again.
“It’s a great opportunity to try to win the title and play in Europe. We still have to improve in many areas, but every win gives you some merit and encouragement. I hope we can have some momentum now.”
Chelsea currently ranks last in the Champions League in fourth, one place behind Leicester. But Leicester are struggling now, as they have not won since the return of English football.
And top scorer Jamie Vardy had yet to find the back net after the restart.
Chelsea had better chances, and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel earned great savings, denying American international Christian Pulisic in the first half.
It wasn’t the Blues ’best game, but Chelsea improved after the interval and got the winner in the 63rd minute when Ross Barkley met Willian’s cross for his third goal of the competition this season.
Willy Caballero knocked on the crossbar of Chelsea’s goal in the dying minutes, but defender Cesar Azpilicueta knocked him out by blocking Caglar Soyuncu’s header.
Then Schmeichel denied Barkley with Leicester stretching to limit the damage.
Lampard’s honest assessment
“It was a lethargic performance for us,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said on his club’s website.
“We saw it (our good game) in the second half and I’m overjoyed that we went through a draw. If we still turn to other games like today’s, then there’s no way. We were lucky today.”
Manchester City did not need luck in Newcastle in the late start. As in their league clash in November, City dominated the possession, especially in the first half. It ended 2-2.
But Newcastle could not connect City on Sunday, meaning the trophy drought in a time of about 50 years is still present. City, meanwhile, on the porch of the trophy, has won the league cup this season and is still in the sport of the Champions League.
That’s after Liverpool outscored Liverpool in the league.
De Bruyne’s birthday goal
Kevin de Bruyne celebrated his 29th birthday when he opened the penalty spot in the 37th minute after Fabian Schar pushed Gabriel Jesus into the box.
Newcastle opened in the second half instead of sitting back and needed to level out. But Dwight Gayle – who had just come in as a replacement – shot over the crossbar. It was one of the failures of the season.
Almost immediately, the home team conceded a goal, as Raheem Sterling’s attempt outside the penalty area overcame Karl Darlow in the 68th minute.