By Ryan Moran
- Sixth round review as eight teams become four.
- Watford end Arsenal’s aims of winning the FA Cup for a third consecutive time.
- West Ham United held by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
A tale of two strikers at Goodison Park
Everton 2-0 Chelsea
Romelu Lukaku proved to Chelsea he’s the one that got away as his brace sent Chelsea packing in the FA Cup. While Everton’s frontman showed his former side what they are missing, Diego Costa’s dismal afternoon ended in an early shower.
The Toffees deservedly earned their place in the semi-finals against a Chelsea side needing a revamp come the end of the season. Costa’s red card, for two yellow cards, epitomised a frustrating afternoon for the Blues who were second best at Goodison Park.
Costa looks a shadow of his former Atletico Madrid self, showing a lack of fight with Phil Jagielka having the better of the striker on most occasions. The Brazilian born Spaniard went down on every possible occasion under the softest of challenges. A moment of madness earned the striker a red card, getting in the face of Gareth Barry, appearing the bite the midfielder on his left shoulder. Barry was also shown red for two yellow cards, the second an unnecessary challenge on Cesc Fabregas.
His striking counterpart Lukaku showed determination, fight and desire to break the deadlock, doing so in spectacular fashion. The Belgian jinked his way through a number of poor defensive challenges before firing past Thibaut Courtois for his first. Lukaku doubled his tally with a weak foot drive through the legs of Courtois minutes after, essentially ending the tie with the two goal advantage.
With Euro 2016 fast approaching, Aaron Lennon’s consistent form put the winger’s name back in contention for a seat on the plane to France. Lennon gave makeshift left back Kenedy a torrid afternoon, having the better of the young Brazilian on a number of occasions. Roy Hodgson’s assistant manager Ray Lewington was in attendance at Goodison watching the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Tom Cleverley, by the end one eye had to be on Lennon.
Roberto Martinez’s side were also watched by new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and ended an unwanted home record. The Toffees have only won four of their last 10 home games in all competitions, one of those wins against League Two Dagenham & Redbridge.
A trophy less campaign almost ends Guus Hiddink’s chances of becoming manager next season. His name hasn’t appeared in the ring with Antonio Conte the favourite but the Dutchman has stabilised a Chelsea side flirting with relegation when he arrived.
Eden Hazard’s poor midweek display and half time shirt swap appeared to show his lack of commitment to the cause while Costa’s antics are now pure idiocy. Pedro and Fabregas’ impact has been limited and a much needed clear out should be a priority along with creating a new breed of ‘Chelsea players.’ The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be progressing through to the first team to create a new generation similar to that of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba- true Chelsea players.
Watford end Arsenal’s unbeaten FA Cup run
Arsenal 1-2 Watford
Arsenal’s impressive run in the FA Cup was ended today as Arsene Wenger’s side couldn’t find a second goal to force a replay. Danny Welbeck’s late goal gave the Gunners a way back into the game but the home side squandered a number of chances at the death.
It has been 15 games since Arsenal have tasted defeat in this competition and, after a close shave against Hull City, Watford was one step too far. Odion Ighalo’s shot on the turn opened the scoring in the second half against the run of play as the holders failed to find the net. Olivier Giroud had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half but needed to be more clinical in front of goal.
Wenger’s side recorded 20 shots on goal but only four on target in comparison to the Hornet’s seven shots and two on target, converted into two goals. Ighalo’s shot was the first shot on target, the second a thunderous drive from Adlene Guedioura.
Late chances fell to Alex Iwobi, who hit the post, and Welbeck who failed to hit the target with the goal gaping. Wenger played a strong side, showing his intent on winning the competition even with the second leg of their Champions League tie only three days away.
A trip to Wembley beckon for Quique Sanchez Flores’ Watford while the Nou Camp awaits for Arsenal. The Premier League and Champions League double remains a possibility, slowly becoming doubtful given three consecutive home defeats show their poor form.
Martial rescues a replay for United
Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United
Manchester United’s season hangs in the balance as Anthony Martial offered the Red Devils a life line in the FA Cup. Dimitri Payet’s free kick looked to have ended Louis Van Gaal’s chances of silverware, with a 2-0 Europa League deficit to overturn against Liverpool.
In a rollercoaster season for United, Martial has been a bright spark alongside young Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Marcus Rashford. The latest goal meant a double still remains a rare possibility for Van Gaal’s side.
It has been a mixed few seasons for Marouane Fellaini at United, this game was not one of his greatest. With the likes of Martial alongside him, United like to play a fast style of play, a style not suiting the Belgian. His removal sparked a turn in the game as Bastian Schweinsteiger spread the play in Fellaini’s absence with long balls to the midfielder ineffective, hence his removal for the German.
West Ham’s bright sparks of Michail Antonio and Dimitri Payet have been influential this season, the latter has been a revelation. Payet’s free kick gave the Hammers the lead and has been adored by fans in his maiden season with the East London outfit. Antonio came close to adding a second but was denied by David De Gea.
Palace avoid cup upset
Reading 0-2 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace were the first side to book their place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over 10-man Reading. The Eagles left it late at the Madejski Stadium, taking the lead through a penalty.
The home side had already dismissed Premier League opposition in West Brom but Alan Pardew’s side was one step too far. Yohan Cabaye opened the scoring from the spot after Jake Cooper saw red for pulling back Yannick Bolasie. Fraizer Campbell’s late strike confirmed Palace’s trip to Wembley, contrasting their poor league form.
Palace are without a league win in 14 games with the cup their only chance of silverware. Pardew will be hoping this will be the turning point in their season, creating a domino effect in improving their league form with their cup success. As for Reading they fall one round short of what they achieved last year with one eye on next season already, given no more chances at silverware this season.
The draw for the FA Cup semi-final will take place on Monday at 19:20 GMT.
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