The third round of the FA Cup may not have the same sense of romance as in years gone by, but this weekend’s games certainly produced plenty of areas for discussion.
The Merseyside derby, Arsenal’s embarrassment against Nottingham Forest and Newport County’s shock victory over Leeds United were amongst the highlights from this year’s ties.
Sportslens takes a look at the main talking points from over the weekend.
Firmino crossed the line
Friday’s derby game between Liverpool and Everton produced was a fiery affair, with the clash between Robert Firmino and Mason Holgate providing the main talking point.
The Everton youngster claimed he was racially abused by Firmino, and although lip readers have suggested that wasn’t the case the Brazilian was still out of order.
Liverpool fans were quick to defend Firmino on social media, with lots of ‘he didn’t call him a n*****, just ‘a son of a whore’ defences put forward.
Industrial language is part and parcel of the English game, but comments of that nature cross the line. A three game ban for Firmino would send out the right message.
Arsenal arrogance deservedly punished
Holders Arsenal were dumped out of the competition at Nottingham Forest on Sunday and it was exactly what their arrogance warranted.
Manager Arsene Wenger rested most of his star players – a hugely questionable decision given the fact that the FA Cup shouldn’t be a reserve team competition.
Factor in the multitude of fans on social media who seemed to think the game was a foregone conclusion and this result was the kick up the backside the Gunners fully deserved.
Bruce under pressure to deliver
Aston Villa have struggled over the years against lower-league opposition and Peterborough United were full value for their 3-1 victory on Saturday.
Bradford City, Millwall, Leyton Orient, Sheffield United and Luton Town have all sprung cup surprises against Villa in recent years and this latest debacle piles the pressure on manager Steve Bruce.
Villa are currently fifth in the Championship and if Bruce doesn’t steer them to promotion it’s not difficult to imagine a parting of ways at the end of the season.
Stoke gave Hughes enough time
Stoke City’s exit from the competition at Coventry City spelled the end of Mark Hughes’ time as the club’s manager.
Hughes looked like he’d be the man to push Stoke on after taking over from Tony Pulis, but the last couple of years have been a steady downward spiral.
Clubs like Stoke rely on taking gambles on players who have failed elsewhere and too many of those haven’t come off for Hughes in recent times.
Stoke’s patience with Hughes was commendable, but the Welshman leaves behind a squad that doesn’t look equipped to cope with a relegation battle.
Leeds’ lack of effort exposed at Newport
Leeds United’s humiliating defeat at Newport County on Sunday exposed how weak they are beyond their first-choice eleven.
Manager Thomas Christiansen fielded a team that should have been strong enough to see off their League 2 opponents, but many of them failed to grasp the opportunity.
Much like Arsenal, this was another example of the folly of making too many changes and Leeds’ fans will be rightly worried that this result could impact on their bid to win promotion from the Championship.