The fourth round of the FA Cup dominated the weekend’s football action. With a lot of sides resting players, and employing squad rotation, it was suggested that the FA Cup had lost its magic. However, for the first time in its current format, 2 non-league sides made it through to the 5th round of the cup. Being joined by 5 of the top 6 in the Premier League. We round up all of the weekend’s key talking points
Wolves knock out Liverpool at Anfield
In what was the start of a weekend of shocks, Wolverhampton Wanderers 18th in the Championship, went to title chasing Liverpool and knocked them out of the FA Cup. This rounded off a miserable week for the Merseysiders who were knocked out of the EFL Cup, also at Anfield, by Southampton. Jurgen Klopp, like many other mangers this weekend, made sweeping changes to his side and it cost him dearly. His side were 1-0 down within 53 seconds thanks to a Richard Steadman header. Despite dominating possession, Liverpool couldn’t muster a shot on target until the 59th minute. By which point they were 2-0 down thanks to Andreas Weimann rounding Liverpool keeper Loris Karius and doubling Wolves’ lead before the break.
Divock Origi scored late on to set up a frantic finale but Liverpool failed to find an equaliser. Liverpool have now lost 3 times in a row at Anfield, for the first time since October 2012. While Wolves’ second straight victory over Premier League opposition in the FA Cup sees them reach the fifth round for the first time since 2008.
Non-League Lincoln stun Brighton
Lincoln City, became the first non-league side into the next round of the FA Cup, as they beat Championship leaders Brighton 3-1 at Sincil Bank. This marked the first time Lincoln City had made the last 16 of the cup in 115 years.
Brighton made nine changes for this match and they began well when Richie Towell put them 1-0 up in the 24th minute. Brighton deserved the lead in the first but after that second-half performance, Lincoln thoroughly deserve the result. Alan Power’s penalty began the fightback before Fikayo Tomori put the ball past his own goalkeeper.
The result was put beyond doubt five minutes from full-time when Theo Robinson fired home a clinical finish after a quick break to register his fifth goal in this season’s competition.
While Brighton will continue to push for promotion to the Premier League, Lincoln City will be hoping for a home draw against one of the Premiership’s big boys. An invaluable financial boost in this dream cup run, for the Imps.
Tottenham leave it until the last minute to make it through
Mirroring the theme of the weekend, Tottenham’s 9 changes almost cost them dearly, as they were losing to Wycombe Wanderers 3-2 in the 89th minute. Spurs found themselves 2-0 at half time, thanks to veteran striker Paul Hayes brace.
Spurs would fight back and bring the game level thanks to Son Heung-min’ deflected effort on the hour and a Vincent Janssen penalty four minutes later. Gary Thompson would then put Wycombe back in front with 7 minutes to go. But Dele Alli’s equaliser, and then Son’s 97th minute winner, broke Wycombe hearts. Despite making sweeping changes for the game, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino spoke of the magic of the FA Cup in his post-match interview:
“That is the beauty of the FA Cup. It was an unbelievable game. Full credit to Wycombe, they played very well first half.
It is completely different to Spain and France. Here it is special – the team, the people is mad to try and lift the trophy. It is completely different to when you play Premier League or EFL Cup.”
Oxford stun Championship Newcastle
Newcastle United added their name to the list of giant’s slayed in the fourth round of the FA Cup, as they fell 3-0 to Oxford United.
The Magpies found themselves another victim of lower-league opposition, as they were dismantled in front of a sold-out crowd at the Kassam Stadium.
Rafa Benitez’s side went into this game without a clean sheet in the FA Cup since 2010 and it was poor defending that again proved their undoing.
After a first half in which the Magpies failed to take their chances – with Aleksandar Mitrovic denied by Oxford stopper Simon Eastwood on several occasions – the visitors found themselves trailing just 30 seconds after kicking off for the second half. Kane Hemmings met a Chey Dunkley back-post header to put Oxford ahead.
Mitrovic missed the chance to level, when his penalty was saved low by Eastwood. Curtis Nelson added a second Oxford goal from a Rob Hall corner before Toni Martinez made it 3-0.
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer was critical of Benitez, and other Premier League managers, selection on BBCs Match of the Day
“It’s just crazy, I don’t understand it. I’m all for bringing kids into the team but not seven or eight of them. Six rounds from the third round to the final, it’s not asking a lot is it?
Arsenal thrash Southampton to progress to the next round
Theo Walcott hit a hat-trick, and Danny Welbeck marked his first start since May 2016 with a brace, as the Gunners absolutely thrashed Southampton 5-0 at St Mary’s. This game marked the start of Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban. He will be serving a four-match touchline suspension after accepting a Football Association charge of misconduct for verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor in the win against Burnley at the Emirates Stadium.
However, his presence was hardly missed, and Arsenal will go into the Premier League double header against Watford at home, and Chelsea away, full of confidence.
Leeds suffer a major upset as Sutton United stun them
Jamie Collins 53rd minute penalty gave Sutton United victory over a Leeds team that are 83 league places above them. Leeds, who currently sit 3rd in the Championship, made 10 changes to the side that had beaten Nottingham Forest, in their last outing, and this performance showed it. The players were giving the ball away carelessly, and the players looked as if they had never played with one another before. The Leeds players also struggled with the artificial pitch at Gander Green Lane.
Sutton were unlucky not to be leading the game sooner, as early in the first half forward Roarie Deacon had a goal controversially ruled out for offside. They looked comfortable throughout, and were never put under pressure, after what turned out to be the winning strike from Collins.
With Sutton following Lincoln’s victory against Brighton, it now marks the first time in the cups history that 2 non-league sides are in the fifth round.
Holders Manchester United cruise into the fifth round
Manchester United continued on their quest to retain the FA Cup for the first time in their history, as they beat 2013 winners Wigan Athletic 4-0 at Old Trafford. It was a comfortable win for United, who hardly got out of second gear in the first half. Marouane Fellaini scored a trademark header, from a great Bastian Schweinsteiger cross, just before the stroke of half-time.
Wigan had been slightly competitive up to that point, but this goal killed off any hopes of progressing, and United simply steamrollered over them in the second half. Chris Smalling made it 2-0 following a cross from Anthony Martial. Martial then combined with Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a counter attack, that finished with Mkhitaryan tapping in from Martial’s cross.
Mourinho also employed squad rotation, and this gave an opportunity for Schweinsteiger to show his worth to Mourinho. Schweinsteiger made his first start since 9 January 2016, and put in a man of the match display, as he added a goal to his earlier assist. He completed the scoring with an overhead kick from close range.
Post-match Mourinho confirmed that Schweinsteiger would be with United for the rest of the season, and would be a part of the Europa League squad.
By Rich Lee RichLee2202