The last weekend saw the FA Cup return to our television screens as the 4th Round got away on Friday night.
Manchester United made the trip to Somerset to play League Two side Yeovil Town. The match saw the debut of Alexis Sanchez, following his move from Arsenal last week. Yeovil battled hard for the first half but an error from their goalkeeper and defender allowed Marcus Rashford to score the all-important opening goal. From there, United dominated the second half to run out 4-0 winners.
In Saturday’s late kick-off, West Bromwich Albion overcame both VAR and Liverpool to secure a place in the next round. Liverpool led through Robert Firmino following a mistake by Jonny Evans. WBA hit back instantly, Jay Rodriguez scoring within 90 seconds of the restart. Rodriguez doubled his tally to put Albion ahead before VAR got involved for the first time. From a West Brom corner, Craig Dawson headed home only for the referee to consult VAR. Whilst the assistance can only be a good thing, the lack of communication to people in the stadium and those watching at home confused matters as Dawson’s goal was ruled out with people unclear as to whether Dawson had fouled Matip, Barry had fouled Mignolet or if Barry was offside. Liverpool went down the other end and VAR won them a penalty, handball being noticed after watching the video replay. Firmino stepped up and crashed the ball against the bar. When Matip stumbled a clearance into his own net, Albion led 3-1 at halftime and were able to hang on to a 3-2 win.
Newport County will have mixed feelings over their 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. The League Two side led 1-0 with only a few minutes left until Harry Kane appeared, unmarked, in the six-yard box to get Spurs a draw. On one hand, Newport get a lucrative replay at Wembley. On the other hand, they know how close they were to a famous giant-killing.
Former FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic shocked West Ham United with an excellent 2-0 win. West Ham were reduced to ten men after Arthur Masuaka was sent off for spitting and it was the infamous name of Will Grigg that troubled the scorers on both occasions. David Moyes has promised that the club will come down hard on Masuaka.
On Sunday, Chelsea beat a tame Newcastle United side aided by two goals from the out-of-favour Michy Batshuayi. Marcos Alonso scored the third with a fine free kick. Manchester City’s pursuit of the quadruple continued with a 2-0 win over Cardiff City. Leroy Sane could be out for some time following another late challenge, something Pep Guardiola feels will end their chase for the four titles sooner rather than later.
Leicester City avoided the potential banana skin of Peterborough United seeing them off 5-1. Watford lost 1-0 away to Southampton in Javi Gracia’s first game in charge. Huddersfield Town will have to play Birmingham City once again, following their 1-1 draw. League Two Notts County managed to hold Swansea City to a 1-1 draw at home and will get a replay for their trouble. Brighton fought their way past Middlesbrough 1-0 in Teeside. Finally, the 1987 winners Coventry City continue their run, beating MK Dons 1-0.