Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – the last four winners of football’s oldest cup competition – advanced to the penultimate round with away victories in England this weekend.
Arsenal needed a goal in the second half from injury midfielder Dani Ceballos on Sunday to advance to Sheffield. That’s after the Blades equalized in the 87th minute through David McGoldrick.
Sheffield United – an impressive eighth in the Premier League, after being promoted from the second level – scored two goals that were disabled for offside. However, both times seemed to be the right decisions.
Relief for Arteta
Arsenal sit below Sheffield United in the top flight, but won the second straight game. He also leads with 13 FA Cup titles, one more than Manchester United.
“I am really pleased with the result. This is a difficult place to come and win,” Arteta told reporters. “After we admitted so late, showing reaction is not easy and it’s very enjoyable and we’re at Wembley again.
“It’s a great opportunity to try to win the title and play in Europe. We still have to improve in many areas, but every win gives you merit and encouragement. I hope we can have some momentum now.”
Chelsea currently ranks last in the Champions League in fourth place, one position behind Leicester. But Leicester are struggling now, as they have not won since the return of English football.
And top scorer Jamie Vardy had yet to find the back net after the restart.
Chelsea had better chances, and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel turned down American international Christian Pulisić in the first half with excellent savings.
It wasn’t the Blues ’best game, but Chelsea improved after the interval and got the winner in the 63rd minute when Ross Barkley met Willian’s cross for his third goal of the competition this season.
Willy Caballero knocked on the crossbar of Chelsea’s goal in the dying minutes, but defender Cesar Azpilicueta knocked him out by blocking Caglar Soyuncu’s header.
Then Schmeichel denied Barkley with Leicester stretching to limit the damage.
Lampard’s honest assessment
“It was a lethargic performance for us,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admitted on his club’s website.
“The second half was a look at him (our good game) and I’m thrilled that we went through a draw. If we still turn to other games like we had today, then there’s no way. We were lucky today.”
Manchester City did not need luck in Newcastle in the late start. As in their league clash in November, City dominated possession, especially in the first half. The game finished 2-2.
But Newcastle could not connect City on Sunday, meaning a trophy drought of about 50 years is still present. City, meanwhile, are one step away from the trophy, after winning the League Cup this season and still in sports in the Champions League, after holding a first-league advantage over Real Madrid in the 16th round.
“We are now in the Premier League, we are struggling a little to focus,” said Guardiola, whose side lost to Chelsea last week to officially award the Liverpool title, he told the BBC. “But now, of course, in the FA Cup and the Champions League, it’s a slightly different fact that we were winners at Wembley again last season.
“We’re in the semi-finals again, so it’s so good and we’re preparing at the end of the season for Real Madrid, of course.”
De Bruyne’s birthday goal
Kevin de Bruyne celebrated his 29th birthday when he opened a penalty kick in the 37th minute after Fabian Schar pushed Gabriel Jesus and injured Sergio Aguero into the box.
Newcastle opened in the second half instead of sitting back and needed to level. But Dwight Gayle – who had just come in as a substitute – shot over the crossbar from close range. That was one of the failures of the season.
Almost immediately, the home team got on goal, as Raheem Sterling’s effort outside the penalty area defeated Karl Darlow in the 68th minute.