So, where to start?
Do I lead in with Liverpool’s crushing defeat at home, or do I kickoff things with Manchester United’s demolition of Arsenal?
Well, let’s flip the invisible coin, and oh, look at that!
Ahmed’s covered United’s 4-0 thumping of Arsenal and Liverpool’s dumping at the hands of Barnsley pretty well, so I’ll say little about both, minus a couple of observations.
While Liverpool’s defeat against Barnsley is definitely an upset, and a poorly, poorly-timed defeat with Inter coming to Merseyside in a few days, it’s not too surprising.
They took a while to get going against both Luton and Havant and Waterlooville, so it was only a matter of time before they got burned. And, then, if you look at their recent form (D-D-D-W-D-W-L-W-D-L), well, it speaks for itself. Then again, we already knew that they weren’t exactly the picture of consistency. So, Liverpool 4-1 Inter on Tuesday?
As for United, a win over Arsenal is a win over Arsenal, especially if it means something, may it be in a cup tie or in the league. Just what, if any, effect this show will have on either side remains to be seen, but Arsene Wenger can’t be too pleased, or maybe this is exactly what he wanted, to make people wonder if Arsenal’s about to fall apart, and then his boys go and take their next few opponents behind the woodshed. I doubt the latter’s the case, but you never know.
The other member of the Big Four was also in action yesterday, and things went much better for Chelsea than for their London rivals, as they outclassed a tough Huddersfield side to book their place in the final eight with a 3-1 triumph.
Frank Lampard is back in business at just the right time, as he produced a terrific performance to carry Chelsea through. He scored the opener in the 18th minute, and after Huddersfield’s Michael Collins equalized right before halftime, Lampard netted his brace, and the match-winner, on the hour mark. He finished off his fine day by setting up Salomon Kalou’s dagger 10 minutes later.
Huddersfield wasn’t able to continue their dream run in the FA Cup, but League One foe Bristol Rovers will. Richard Lambert celebrated his 26th birthday in style, scoring the only goal of the match at the Memorial Stadium to send Rovers into the FA Cup quarterfinals for the first time in five decades, at the expense of Southampton. As things edged towards a replay, the birthday boy stepped up in the 84th minute and struck a free kick that took a deflection and went in to send the home crowd into raptures. Now that’s some good birthday luck, eh Rickie?
Besides Barnsley, at least two other Championship sides will be in the quarterfinals. A dominant 20-minute period in the second half propelled visiting West Brom into the final eight, as the Baggies throttled league foes Coventry 5-0 at the Ricoh Arena. Chris Brunt’s 12th minute goal set the visitors on their way, and then they put the match away and then some with four goals in 20 minutes in the second half. Roman Bednar bagged a brace in a ten-minute period (59, 69), and then his replacement, Ishmael Miller, made it 4-0 on 76, before Zoltan Gera rounded off the rout two minutes later.
And at Ninian Park, Peter Whittingham and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored inside the first dozen minutes for Cardiff, and that would prove to be enough, as the Bluebirds sent Wolves home feeling blue with a 2-0 triumph.
Today, Sheffield United and Preston will be looking to keep spreading the upset bug, as they host Middlesbrough and Portsmouth respectively.
Can we make it through consecutive rounds without a single replay? I hope I didn’t jinx it right there, but we’ll see.
FA Cup Fifth-Round Saturday Results
Manchester United 4-0 Arsenal
Liverpool 1-2 Barnsley
Chelsea 3-1 Huddersfield
Coventry 0-5 West Brom
Bristol Rovers 1-0 Southampton
Cardiff 2-0 Wolves