FA Cup – Pressure builds for Villas-Boas as Chelsea forced to replay, Arsenal woes continues as they exit cup at Sunderland
Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham
Chelsea had to come from behind to earn a replay as they met a spirited Birmingham team in Saturday’s early kick-off. The underdogs took the lead in the 20th minute after Chelsea failed to clear their lines following Adam Rooney’s neat flick on which allowed Danny Murphy to open the scoring. Chelsea spurred into life and immediately had a chance to level the scores when Ramires was fouled in the area. The usually reliable Juan Mata saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Birmingham keeper Danny Coyle, meaning the visitors went in a goal up at half time. Fresh from African Cup of Nations duty, Didier Drogba was brought on by Andre Villas-Boas, but it was Daniel Sturridge who got the equaliser, heading home from Branislav Ivanovic’s cross. Chelsea took control from then on, but Birmingham held on to force a replay, something Chelsea and Villas-Boas could have done with out.
Sunderland 2-0 Arsenal
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s miserable week continued as they were dumped out of the FA Cup by a vibrant Sunderland. After wednesday’s humiliation in the Sam Siro, a victory for Arsenal was certainly what the doctor ordered and it was the visitors who had the better of the first half, captain Van Persie had a penalty appeal turned down and Gervinho saw his shot well saved by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
It was against the run of play that the home side took the lead, Arsenal defender Djourou fouled Gardener on the edge of the box and from the resulting free kick Kieran Richardson struck a brilliant volley that landed in the bottom right corner.
With Arsenal deflated, Sunderland took control of the second half but couldn’t find the decisive second goal and a double change from Arsene Wenger put the impetus back with Arsenal.
With the Gunners committing more men forward the inevitable happened. A Mikel Arteta slip allowed the exciting Sessengnon to burst through, he picked out former Gunner Larsson whose shot rebounded off the post and struck the unfortunate Oxlade-Chamberlain and rolled into the net.
Arsenal’s season now hinges on finishing fourth, but with another trophy less season there may be a new man in the Arsenal hot seat next year.