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Here are a few Blog headlines from todays FA Cup Quarter Finals which saw Arsen Venger come under increasing pressure as the Gunners crashed out of their 3rd Cup competition in as many weeks.
Birmingham 2 Bolton 3 | The Sun |Sport|Football
CHUNG-YONG LEE headed a last-gasp winner to send Bolton into the FA Cup semis.
Publish Date: 03/12/2011 14:03
Mark Lawrenson column: Arsenal lack leaders and Arsene Wenger must …
Arsene Wenger must win a trophy this season – or look at changing his philosophy at Arsenal.
Publish Date: 03/12/2011 7:59
Manchester United 2 Arsenal 0 | The Sun |Sport|Football
FABIO and Wayne Rooney made it a hat-trick of cup exits for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Publish Date: 03/12/2011 17:02
Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal FA Cup half-time report: Fabio da …
Arsenal had better of the first 45 but lacked cutting edge in front of goal.
Publish Date: 03/12/2011 18:10
Both of Saturdays FA Cup quarter finals were decided without replays as Bolton struck a late winner to beat League Cup Winners Birmingham 3-2 at St Andrews. Birmingham had just the better of the play, but just as it looked like a replay was beckoning Chung-Yong Lee hit the winner to send the home fans slightly aggrieved. The Attendance was a slightly disapointing 23,699.
Manchester United faced Arsenal in the tie of the round and Arsenals season continued to unravel big style as they were eliminated from their 3rd Cup competition in as many weeks, despite United starting with a somewhat unconventional line up which included 7 defenders. Despite having the better of the chances and possession Arsenal never looked like getting back into the game after going 1-0 down mid way through the 1st half and when Wayne Rooney popped up with their second 5 minutes into the second half the game was as good as over. Arsenal have now been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup and lost to Birmingham in the League Cup Final, leaving only the Premier League title for them to try and end their barren silver ware run. The official Att: 74,693
Arsenal & Manchester City both progressed into the last eight of the 2011 FA Cup with Arsenal beating League 1 Orient 5-0 in their replay, while Manchester City beat fellow Premier League side Aston Villa 3-0 in a pretty one sided game.
Reading are the only non Premier league side left in the competition and they will have a tough task away at big spending Man City.
The tie of the Quarter Finals however has to be Arsenal v Manchester United and the winner of this will no doubt be favourites to lift the Trophy and possibly the Double too.
2011 FA Cup Quarter Final Draw
Stoke v West Ham
Manchester City v Reading
Birmingham v Bolton
Manchester United v Arsenal
Everton crashed out to championship side Reading so effectively ending their season again. Everton fans must have thought this was their season following their somewhat lucky win over holdres Chelsea in the last round, however their luck ran out against a plucky Reading who were well organised and good value for their win. They will now advance to the Quarter Finals and must love coming to Merseyside having knocked Liverpool out of last seasos FA Cup.
The Everton players were booed off at full time and following this passionless performance the blue contingent of the 29,976 crowd were justified in their actions.
With attendances having dropped around 30% and the tournament beginning to lose a little of its prestige The FA are now planning to tamper with the rules and structure of the World’s oldest and still most respected competition. However as per usual with The FA some of the changes might be aimed more at corporate sponsors rather than football fans. Possible changes to the FA Cup which could take effect from 2013 include moving the final to a 5.30pm kick off in order to attract a bigger global audience. This is not a bad idea and would benefit those who have a long way to travel as well as making it more of an occasion with more time for the build up al la the Super Bowl in America. However the other changes are much more sinister and include the seeding of the top clubs in order to avoid the likes of Manchester United playing Arsenal in the Third Round of the competition. The real Magic of the FA Cup was and still is the fact that nothing is staged and a big team clash on 3rd Round day is almost as exciting as when a non league club makes it there. Seeding would have the effect of sloping the playing field in favour of the big clubs again and would do nothing for the already skewed income distribution in football.
Also on the list of possible changes is the the scrapping of replays. Wonderful idea that! Many smaller clubs survive to fight another day on the revenue generated from a money spinning replay and with all the concern about declining attendances what’s the point of removing games which must have the effect of reducing gross attendances further.
Then there is the talk of playing more ties in midweek, another sure fire way to reduce attendances as people (outside the FA anyway) have work and travel considerations when planning a mid week match.
Other possibilities such as planning more regional ties looks good on paper, but again the attraction of the FA Cup is the unexpected and if regionalising means that the likes of Hartlepool will be playing Darlington nearly every year in the early stages then eventually this will become boring and attendances could decline further.
The FA Cup has ran fine since 1872 and it will be a crying shame for football fans everywhere if the tail gets the chance to wag the dog and corporate sponsorship dictates who plays who and when they play it.
The weather has caused a bit of disruption to the FA Cup this year and going into March only 2 of the quarter final ties are settled. The missing fixtures are being played on the 1st & 2nd March all being well.
The updated draw:
FA Cup 5th Round Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Everton v Reading
FA Cup 5th Round Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Arsenal v Leyton Orient (Replay)
Man City v Aston Villa
FA Cup 6th Round Saturday, 12 March 2011 all 3.00pm kick off
Birmingham v Bolton
Man City or Aston Villa v Everton or Reading
Man Utd v Leyton Orient or Arsenal
Stoke v West Ham
When top of the Premier League meets near top of the Conference at home one could be forgiven for expecting a deluge of goals, however this was a very different Manchester United side and Crawley came within a few inches of a remarkable replay.
Given that this seasons FA Cup crowds have been a little disapointing it was nice to see 74,778 turn up for this one, although many especially those decked out in Red might have considered asking for a refund when they saw the team Manchester United put out, probably due to the their forthcoming European games.
The game itself was not a great spectical and surprisingly it was Crawley who had more possession and chances, and despite falling behind to Wes Brown’s 28th minute goal showed plenty of ambition. Such was their efforts that it forced Sir Alex to rejig his team at half time bringing on Wayne Rooney and latter Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher to add a little more bite to the team which had 9 changed from that that had beaten Manchester Citya week earlier.
Crawley also made some changes as they threw caution to the wind and went in search of an equaliser. This bold move nearly got them a reward as Hunt and Tubbs both went close befort Second Half Substiture Brodie hit the cross bar. But is was not to be their day, however they left Old Trafford with their heads held high and received generous applause from all sections of the crowd.
Overall a win for the big boys, but again a sad reflection on the declining status of the FA Cup with Manchester United prepared to risk humiliation rather than their stars. Crawley on this display will win the Conference title, so playing League Football next season, and with their financial resources they could be in League One the season after.
The future of Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti must now be in doubt after Everton pulled off a shock penalties win at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup 4th Round. In a slightly disappointing game from a neutrals perspective and one littered with Everton fouls Chelsea looked the more likely to win, however after taking the lead in extra time through Frank Lampard they were pegged back by Leighton Baines 119th minute free kick meaning it was Penalties.
Ashley Cole missed the decisive spot kick with the score at 3-3 leaving veteran defender Phil Neville to take the glory as Everton won at Chelsea for the 1st time since 1994. They now play Reading in the 5th round and after this win they must think their name is on the cup.
Chelsea who were trying to become the first side in 125 years to win three consecutive FA Cups, now know their season could effectively be over if they lose in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg away to FC Copenhagen. They can probably expect a less brutal confrontation though and a good result might just keep Ancelotti in a job until the end of the season. With Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich not keen on failure nothing short of the Champions League title will ensure he is manager going into the 2012 season.
Final Score Chelsea 1-1 Everton (Everton 4-3 on Penalties)
Chelsea v Everton In Pictures
Only 7515 fans bothered to turn out to watch Bolton win their FA Cup 4th round replay at fellow Premier League side and local rivals Wigan Athletic. This was a hugely disappointing crowd and a sad reflection on the declining status of the FA Cup since the European powers that be decided to scrap the Cup Winners Cup, which at least gave the winners the chance at competing in a prestigious competition.
The game its self was pretty drab and Bolton were good value for their win and had they been a little more clinical in front of goal then the score could have been much more emphatic than the final 1-0. They will now travel to Fulham on Sunday in round 5 where they can expect a much more difficult time.
Two 4th round ties still need to be decided and these games will be played this weekend; these are:
Chelsea v Everton & Manchester City v Notts County
Conference Premier side Crawley Town who are only the 6th Non League club since the Second World War to reach the FA Cup 5th Round Proper have been amply rewarded for their valiant efforts having been drawn against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
They reached this stage after winning 1-0 at Torquay United in the 4th round, a game in which they missed 2 penalties. It was a bad tempered match with 9 booking and 2 sending offs and Crawley were lucky that the penalty misses were not punished as Torquay created a lot of chances. However their finishing was poor and now it a massive pay day for the already rich Conference side.
The attendance at 5,065 was well above Torquay’s average reflecting the importance of this tie to both sides.
The other five clubs that have made it through to that last-16 stage are:
Colchester United (1948)
Yeovil Town (1949)
Blyth Spartans (1978)
Telford United (1985)
Kidderminster Harriers (1994)