Chelsea trounce MK Dons while Shrewsbury earn big cup tie
English football fans will always associate the FA Cup with upsets, but there were few of those this weekend with two replays set to take place.
Liverpool will head to West Ham after fielding a youthful XI in a goalless encounter at Anfield, while League One Peterborough held West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Here are Five Things Silly Season learned from the weekend’s FA Cup action:
5) Chelsea and Manchester United avoid shocks
Manchester United cruised to a relatively comfortable 3-1 win away to Derby County on Friday night, to kick off the Fourth Round action.
It was a much-improved United side than the one that lost 1-0 at home to Southampton the weekend before, easing the pressure on Louis Van Gaal.
Derby did manage an equaliser to go into the break level, but, following Wayne Rooney’s 16th-minute opener, Daley Blind regained the Red Devils’ lead in the second half and Juan Mata sealed the tie late on.
United looked good on a night that some would have been preparing for another cup shock, but while Derby showed quality it was Van Gaal’s men who head into the Fifth Round.
Meanwhile, Chelsea breezed past Championship side MK Dons in a 5-1 win, with Oscar bagging a hat-trick. Guus Hiddink’s winning record in the competition continues.
4) Arsenal on track for FA Cup treble
The Gunners have won the last two FA Cup finals and are on course for their third in a row. Calum Chambers opened the scoring before Sam Vokes equalised for Burnley on half an hour. But super Alexis Sanchez scored during the second half – in his first start for the club since November – to seal victory.
It certainly doesn’t seem Sanchez has been affected by his injury troubles and could now prove vital in Arsenal’s title run-in, with Arsene Wenger’s men third in the table and three points off league leaders Leicester City.
Arsenal will now face Hull City at the Emirates again in the FA Cup after the two sides met a year ago with the Gunners running out 2-0 winners. They also met in the 2014 when Arsenal also beat the Tigers to win the FA Cup.
While Wenger will be happy with the draw, no doubt, Tigers fans have been left less than pleased.
3) Peterborough keep cup magic alive
In a weekend of few shocks, Peterborough came the closest to causing an upset, earning a replay following a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns.
Saido Berahino scored against the club he spent time on loan with in 2012 after 14 minutes before January signing Shaquile Coulhirst netted an equaliser – his first for the club – late in the second-half.
However, an eventful and entertaining final 10 minutes saw Berahino bag his second before Jon Taylor scored two minutes later to send the 4000 travelling supporters wild and in with a chance of reaching the fifth round.
The Posh had chances to win the game but will have to settle for a replay to decide whether they will head to Reading.
2) Shrewsbury Town earn United tie
Shrewsbury Town’s shock 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday earned them a Fifth Round tie at home to Manchester United.
They secured victory in dramatic fashion, finding themselves 2-1 down with 14 minutes to go before Shaun Walley netted an equaliser and Jack Grimmer converted the winner into seven minutes of added time.
1) Villa throw in the towel
It was a chance for basement Premier League side Aston Villa to cause an upset and boost moral within the squad, but, they did everything just that.
The Villans, 10 points from safety, were undone by the brilliance of Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho, who bagged a hat-trick while Raheem Sterling got the fourth in a 4-0 win at Villa Park.
Villa fans would have been hoping that they could have at least put in a good display to upset their record of poor form. But Remi Garde’s side seemed to have given up before they stepped onto the pitch and took just four minutes to go behind.
Now their sole focus is on securing Premier League safety which looks a near-impossible task.