FA Cup roundup: Everton, Arsenal move on and Sheffield United leaves it late again

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The FA Cup quarterfinals are nearly set, as two top-six teams advanced past Premier League opponents.

Even more intriguing is Sheffield United’s charge through the FA Cup despite sitting in the League One relegation zone.

Everton advanced with a convincing win over Garry Monk’s Swansea, marking the new manager’s first loss in charge of the Welsh club.

Meanwhile, Arsenal hung on to join Manchester City in exacting FA Cup revenge over recent Premier League losses to title-contending foes.

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his in-form return from injury, and Olivier Giroud wasn’t needed as Arsenal nudged Liverpool out of the FA Cup in an enticing affair.

Liverpool brought their usual attacking force, but on a day referee Howard Webb would probably like to forget, they were given a penalty and denied another and could only get the one goal.

The Reds nearly repeated the stunning start to their Premier League fixture in the opening minutes, but Daniel Sturridge couldn’t convert a pair of early chances.

Mathieu Flamini took control in the midfield buildup from there, and Arsenal withstood a flurry of Liverpool counters while Oxlade-Chamberlain captained the attack.

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Leighton Baines (L) and Steven Naismith provided the winning fireworks for Everton.

Everton 3-1 Swansea City

It was a comprehensive win for the Toffees, despite their winning goal coming on an obvious defensive mistake.

Debutant Lacina Traore scored just five minutes into his first Everton appearance with a brilliant backheel flick that clipped a defender and settled into the back of the net.

Swansea missed a few great chances early, and while they would equalize before halftime through Jonathan de Guzman, but they were thoroughly dominated in the second half. Substitute Steven Naismith provided the winning goal when Neil Taylor’s back-pass went awry, and the Scottish international won a penalty  for Leighton Baines to slot home and wrap things up.

Sheffield United 3-1 Nottingham Forest

Despite sitting in 22nd in the League One (English third tier) table – 41 places below their opponents today – Sheffield United have brought their flair to the FA Cup.

After beating Fulham with a very late goal in the previous round, a pair of extra-time goals from Chris Porter downed Premier League hopefuls Nottingham Forest and secured a place in the quarterfinals for the Blades.

Having already defeated two Premier League sides en route to the quarterfinals, the win sets up a possible derby match with hated rivals Sheffield Wednesday should they get past Charlton Athletic. Those two were scheduled to play yesterday but the match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

FIFTH ROUND DRAW:

Man City v Wigan
Arsenal v Everton
Sunderland v Brighton/Hull
Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday/Charlton Athletic

Landon Donovan unveiled by Club Leon

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Landon Donovan was unveiled to Club Leon fans at Estadio Leon on Monday night.

The former USMNT star and longtime LA Galaxy forward came out of retirement for the second time to sign with the Liga MX side this past weekend. Leon finished 7th in the Apertura table, losing to Tigres in the first round of the playoffs. They currently have a perfect six points through the first two Clausura matches, sitting second in the table with a +3 goal differential.

Fans were allowed into the stadium for free, and they packed the lower stand on one end, waving USA flags and holding large “L” and “D” cutouts, and the fans faced a massive board on the field that read “I DON’T BELIEVE IN WALLS.” Chants of “U-S-A” rang out through the stadium before the unveiling.

ESPN reporter Tom Marshall pointed out that the last time the club had such a large event to welcome a player, it was in January of 2013 when the club brought Mexico captain Rafa Marquez in from the New York Red Bulls.

Donovan will don the number 20 for Club Leon.

Report: Rimando to return to RSL

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USMNT veteran and current MLS free agent Nick Rimando will reportedly return to Real Salt Lake for a 12th season with the club, according to a report by Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep.

The report states he received interest on the free agent market from both Los Angeles clubs, but the 38-year-old will return to the club he has made 350 appearances for.

Rimando came to Real Salt Lake from D.C. United in 2006, and has made at least 24 league appearances in every single season since. He has also made 22 playoff appearances for the club across eight playoff campaigns.

He last received a USMNT cap in January of 2017 in a friendly against Serbia, but was part of the 2018 World Cup qualification squad throughout 2017 backing up Tim Howard. Overall, Rimando has played 22 times for the US national team, with 14 goals conceded and nine clean sheets.

The report also states that Kyle Beckerman will return to Rio Tinto Stadium, with the veteran also testing the free agent waters but deciding to re-sign. The pair will be two of just four players left on the roster from the 2009 MLS Cup winning team.

Report: Aubameyang hands in transfer request at Dortmund

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According to German publication Bild, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has handed a transfer request to the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy.

Arsenal is the latest club linked with the Gabonese striker, with reports earlier this month of a deal to send Aubameyang to China. He has reportedly asked to leave Dortmund multiple times this January, and has been turned down thus far, and it’s causing problems. Aubameyang was suspended by the club for one match for missing a meeting last week, a match that ended in a goalless draw with Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Man United, Chelsea battle for Alexis Sanchez ]

“We had a very heated discussion,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc after the suspension was announced. “He hasn’t behaved like this for years, he’s always been very professional. What has happened is very tolerable, there will be some fines, too. It’s not necessary to talk about a transfer, but it’s clear that things can’t continue like this because some important things are in jeopardy, and that there is tension inside the squad.”

The price tag, according to recent reports, would be around $76 million, and he would be purchased with money from the likely outgoing transfer of Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal transfer guru Sven Mislintat is reportedly driving the deal, having signed Aubameyang at Dortmund during his days as a scout from Westfalinstadion. However, there is buzz among the British media that Arsene Wenger is unimpressed by Aubameyang’s recent insubordination and has expressed his concerns.

Emre Can says new Liverpool contract still a possibility

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is out of contract this summer, but says he could still sign back on at Anfield despite heavy rumors of his departure.

Still just 24 years old, the German came over from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 and has improved in each of his four years at Liverpool, flourishing under Jurgen Klopp as a strong passer and versatile player who can be used in midfield or defense. With that, he has reportedly turned down a number of new contract offers, and Juventus is reportedly in the lead to sign him to a free transfer.

[ MORE: Arsenal should follow Liverpool’s rebuilding example ]

Can is eligible to sign a pre-contract agreement with anyone from now until the end of the season, but he says that doesn’t mean he will leave.

“My agent is looking after everything but I am here until the summer,” Can said. “I haven’t signed anything with anyone. I am talking with everyone. Of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club. What can I say? My agent does the rest. I just concentrate on the scene, on my performance and the football. I will give everything for this team.”

The loss of Philippe Coutinho this winter is an obvious blow to the Reds, but an argument could be made that the loss of Can would hurt just as much if not more, as stout defensive midfielders are hard to come by. However, the arrival of Naby Kieta this summer could ease the blow of the German’s potential departure. Should Can stay, partnering with Keita in midfield could prove masterful as Liverpool looks to continue building towards a title challenge. Currently, Can has paired with Giorgino Wijnaldum in Liverpool’s midfield in recent weeks, and the club is on a five-match win streak that has seen them shoot into third place in the Premier League table.