Premier League and FA Cup round up, March 13th 2017
FA Cup Quarter Finals dominated by the elite
Top teams stroll as Lincoln’s brave run ends
The pursuit of Premier League points was overshadowed by goings on in the FA Cup at the weekend as we saw some enthralling encounters in the latter stages of the nation’s favourite knockout competition.
It was a weekend of firsts too as we saw the games played to a conclusion, with replays scrapped at this point as part of a revolutionary shake-up. Will it catch on? Clubs will certainly welcome fewer games in an already hectic schedule. Personally, I’d do away with extra-time too, if 90-minutes isn’t enough it should go straight to penalties. Fans would certainly enjoy the added drama.
There were big wins for London clubs Spurs and Arsenal at the weekend. Both were to be expected, but it took nothing away from just how impressive they were. Arsenal avoided a potential banana skin when beating Non-League Lincoln at the Emirates, courtesy of a 5-0 result. Goals from Walcott, Giroud, Waterfall OG, Sanchez and Ramsay got The Gunners through to the next round, in front of a crowd of 59.454.
Wenger welcomes easy win in one-sided affair
A relieved Arsene Wenger, who has not had a lot to smile about of late, spoke to the press at full-time, telling fans that his boys completely controlled the second-half, but took time out to offer his congratulations to Lincoln on what they had achieved in the competition so far. It was obvious that his players went into the match short on confidence, but he did say they boosted morale with a convincing win.
Punters looking to have Arsenal to go all the way and win the FA Cup will be delighted to see 888Sport handing out a market best price of 4/1. A trophy may just keep the wolves from the door for another season, and the FA Cup remains their only chance of silverware.
Spurs throw Millwall to the Lions
Rivals Tottenham also put some big numbers up on the board when spanking Millwall 6-0 at White Hart Lane. Billed as a competitive cup tie before the off, Spurs showed their class throughout the day, smashing their lower league opponents. Eriksen got the ball rolling with the opener on 31-minutes, and that was enhanced by a hat-trick from Heung-min, while Alli and Janssen were also on the scoresheet.
Victorious manager Mauricio Pochettino called his team’s performance fantastic, and thought it important that they sent out a message to their rivals in this competition, and to opposing fans, with a convincing win. The gaffer also took confidence in the fact the fringe players brought in to do a job stepped up and delivered when asked. Strength in depth will be all important when fighting on two fronts.
Millwall leader Neil Harris was disappointed to concede six goals, and thought his boys lost their way in the closing stages. He was in no doubt about who were the better side however, and gave Spurs the credit they deserved for their winning performance.
Man City batter Boro in every way but the score
Another noteworthy result from the weekend’s FA Cup was Man City’s 2-0 win vs Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Saturday. Silva set the pace for the day, scoring the opener inside three-minutes, settling the visitor’s nerves.
Home fans would’ve feared the worst following City’s electric start, but Pep’s boys failed to keep up the pressure, and didn’t double their advantage until Aguero struck on 67-minutes. It was a comfortable afternoon nevertheless, with Boro managing just three shots on target, against City’s 10.
The Citizens are now hot-favourites to go on and win the FA Cup outright, with William Hill’s 5/2 the best price available to punters at the time of writing.
Guardiola was another happy manager post-match, telling the waiting press that his side were outstanding from the off. He thought they deserved to be favourites to win the title, as they have now played three Premier League sides, and one from the Championship. The game provided the perfect warm-up for their season-defining trip to Monaco in the Champions League in midweek.
Chelsea welcome Man Utd for the remaining Quarter Final
All eyes on the Bridge tonight as Chelsea host Man Utd in the last quarter final. Man Utd dominate the headlines, travelling south with a threadbare attack owing to all of injury, illness and suspension. Quite who they’ll have up top is a mystery that we’ll have to wait till later to solve. The bookies don’t see them upsetting the Blues on their own turf and its hard to disagree on current form.