The quarter-finals of the FA Cup have been and gone, and all the big boys have booked their place at Wembley in the semi-finals of the cup, as we look back at all the major talking points from the FA Cup
Manchester City cruise into the Semi-Finals
Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City a comfortable and deserved 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, at the Riverside. On route to the quarter-finals City had defeated West Ham, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town and completely dominated against Middlesbrough.
The visitors had 69% of possession and 10 shots on target compared with only three from the hosts at a packed Riverside Stadium. Despite a Champions League game against Monaco on Wednesday, City played a strong team and Pep Guardiola explained his delight at being able to lead City out at Wembley in the semi-finals
“I get excited a lot about the thought of leading my team out at Wembley, I have good memories of being at Wembley, at the old and the new one. Yes, of course, and to live that experience… I’m so, so happy.”
“We don’t discriminate between competitions. When you’re at a big club, you have to win. To understand that, you don’t distinguish between friendly and competitive games. You have to play to win – it’s the only way you can improve, improve the mentality and that is what I want to try and give the club while I’m here.”
For Middlesbrough and Aitor Karanka, the focus now turns to Premier League survival. But this will be made harder as they suffered injuries to key players as Rudy Gestede and defender Bernardo both limped off.
Arsenal end Lincoln’s FA Cup dream
Lincoln City’s incredible run in the FA Cup came to an end, as Arsenal steamrollered over the imps winning 5-0. Despite the score line, Lincoln made a strong showing of themselves and held their own for much of the first half. They almost took the lead when Petr Cech saved from Nathen Arnold.
However, Arsenal’s class and quality was just a step to far for Lincoln, who had beaten Brighton and Burnley to arrive at this point, as just on the stroke of half-time Theo Walcott made it 1-0 to Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs played a nice pass inside to Walcott and he had time to look up and thread a shot into the far corner. Unfortunately, for Lincoln this is where the floodgates opened, and they never looked likely to get back into the tie.
Goals from Oliver Giroud, an own goal from Luke Waterfall, an Alexis Sanchez brilliant fourth, finished off Lincoln before Aaron Ramsey completed the win when he tapped in from Sanchez’s cross.
For Arsenal this will be their 29th semi-final in the clubs history, and Arsene Wenger’s 11th semi-final in charge of the gunners. Though, there is still a sense of discontent around the club, and a small minority of the fans protested once more against Wenger’s continued presence in the dugout at the Emirates. The potential chance to win the cup, this would be the 13th time in the clubs history, is no longer satisfying Arsenal fans.
However, there was support for Wenger inside the ground as some fans held ‘In Wenger we trust’ banners, while on the pitch his players stepped up after a slow start.
For Lincoln the dream maybe over, but they achieved an amazing feat in becoming the first non-league club to reach the quarterfinals of the cup for 103 years. They will also gain financially from this run, and Arsene Wenger rightly praised Lincoln for their run this season.
“It was all us in the second half but you have to congratulate Lincoln for what they have achieved in the FA Cup.”
Spurs breeze past Millwall, as Harry Kane comes off injured
Tottenham absolutely ran through their London rivals Millwall, beating them 6-0 on the way to booking their place at Wembley for the semi-finals of the FA Cup. However, this came at a cost as star striker Harry Kane came off injured after just 6 minutes
Kane was just getting going when he forced a save from goalkeeper Tom King after five minutes but a defender’s momentum took him into the England striker, whose foot turned awkwardly as he fell. He limped straight down the tunnel and was replaced by Christian Eriksen. That the Dane scored Tottenham’s first goal and set up the fourth and sixth, and Son Heung-min, who went up front, scored a brilliant hat trick will be little consolation to Spurs and manager Mauricio Pochettino if Kane is seriously hurt.
To Tottenham’s credit, the loss of their talisman did not distract them and they dispatched a lower league opposition for the third consecutive round. This is expected to be the last ever cup game at White Hart Lane and, if it was not the most dramatic, it was one of the more professional at the old stadium, which was rocking for the clubs’ first competitive meeting since 1990. Spurs attacked Millwall with controlled aggression from the off and King had already made three smart saves by the time Kane limped off. Son was initially tasked with playing off of Kane, before he moved up front, where he stretched Millwall centre-backs Byron Webster and Tony Craig, who have helped the club to clean sheets against three Premier League sides in this competition.
The cherry on the cake for Spurs was Vincent Janssen’s first goal from open play for the club, a clinical side-footed finish into the bottom corner from Son’s pass. It was starting to look very bleak for the Dutchman, who had trudged back to the dugout when Pochettino called for Eriksen to replace Kane, and you could see his relief when the ball hit the back of the net. He simply stood and allowed his teammates to embrace him, while the home fans chanted his name. The Dutchman played the final ten minutes with a spring in his step that has been absent since his first couple of appearances in a Spurs shirt.
Chelsea on course for the domestic double as they beat 10 man United
Going into this game we were all made to believe that Man United had no strikers available for selection leaving heads scratching as to who would play up top.
As the team sheets came in Marcus Rashford’s names was emblazoned in the starting XI, perhaps a late fitness test passed or more Mourinho mind games, either way it changed the way United set up.
Man United started the game well, and pressed Chelsea high up the pitch getting very tight to the Chelsea midfield and had the better of the first 20 minutes.
With that said the better chances came to Chelsea. Hazard was probing causing United problems and his sharp turn left Chris Smalling for dust, his deflected shot brilliantly saved by keeper David De Gea. This save was only to be bested about 30 seconds later as he saved down low from Gary Cahills shot. Chelsea we starting to take over yet United were comfortable.
That was all until a very soft second yellow card for Ander Herrera for a petulant foul on Hazard saw the Spanish midfielder get his marching orders, United down to 10 men and an almost unassailable task.
Fellani’s entrance to the game was the confirmation of plan B, to defend deep and try to break on the counter or benefit from a set piece. The game all but ruined as a spectacle.
It only took 6 minutes into the second half for N’golo Kante to score from a fantastic shot from outside the box. Kante showing all Man United fans what they hoped they had signed when they splashed £89m on Paul Pogba, the Frenchman once again missing in a big game.
United still had a punchers chance, Marcus Rashford was put through one on one with Courtiois only for the big Belgian to pull off a great save. But Chelsea had chance after chance, United struggled to get any sort of possession on the ball in the second half, which when down to 10 men isn’t surprising. You could tell Man United have had a busy schedule of late playing plenty of more games than Chelsea this season and with only 10 men on the pitch United were out on their feet. They battled valiantly but ultimately were never a threat to Chelsea’s dominance.
Chelsea now face a Semi Final against Tottenham and have to be favourites for a League and Cup double which will be a fantastic return in Antonio Conte’s first season in English football.
Semi Final Draw:
- Chelsea v Tottenham
- Arsenal V Man City
By Rich Lee and Michael Thatcher