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.
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