The FA Cup’s 4th round gave us only one Premier League battle: Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City. After mid-week wins by Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest dwindled the competition to 16, such match ups are unavoidable, but for those who thrive on cup competitions for their Cinderella runs, the Cup’s fifth round couldn’t be any more accommodating.
Of the six lower-division sides who’ve made it this far, four are were draw against each other on Jan. 26, ensuring at least two Football League clubs will be in the competition’s quarterfinals. Those match ups feature Sheffield Wednesday hosting Charlton Athletic (Feb. 15) and Nottingham Forest visiting Sheffield United (Feb. 16) – the competition’s only club not in England’s top two tiers.
The tournament’s other two lower-level sides, Wigan and Brighton, also have winnable matches. The Latics will visiting the Premier League’s 19th place side, Cardiff City (Feb. 15), while Brighton & Hove Albion host Hull City to wrap up the round proper on Feb. 17.
All it will take for four lower-level sides to make it to the quarterfinals are minor upsets at Cardiff City and Falmer Stadiums. Given the talent available to the Bluebirds and Tigers, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either underdog land in the competition’s final eight.
As for the Premier League battles: Sunderland continues their quest for a second cup final when they host Southampton (Feb. 15); Chelsea and Manchester City square off in the round’s marquee match up at the Etihad (Feb. 15); Roberto Martínez welcomes his old club to Goodison when Everton hosts Swansea (Feb. 16); and Arsenal and Liverpool take part in the round’s other headlining tie when they meet at the Emirates (Feb. 16).
Feb. 15: Sunderland vs. Southampton
Feb. 15: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Charlton Athletic
Feb, 15: Cardiff City vs. Wigan Athletic
Feb. 15: Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Feb. 16: Everton vs. Swansea
Feb. 16: Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest
Feb. 16: Arsenal vs. Liverpool
Feb. 17: Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Hull City
The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.
[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]
Three moments that mattered
16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.
33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.
43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.
Man of the match: Luke Mulholland
Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)
Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]
United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.
All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]
Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.
You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.
[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.
[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.
The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.
Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.