Arsenal, Man City, Spurs through to FA Cup fifth round
All three Premier League sides sailed through to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Holders Arsenal edged past Burnley, Manchester City thrashed Aston Villa, whilst Tottenham easily overcame League One strugglers Colchester.
Alexis Sanchez’ second half winner stole the show at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The star striker maintained Arsenal’s hopes of winning a third FA Cup in a row when he connected with an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross in the 53rd minute.
It was Sanchez’ first start since suffering from a hamstring injury back in November, but the Chile international seemed back to full form, as he ran at the Burnley defence throughout the match.
Sanchez was also involved in the build-up to Arsenal's opening goal, when Calum Chambers sent home a superb 18-yard curler with the outside of his foot in the 19th minute.
Burnley hit back in the 30th minute, with a powerful header from Sam Vokes at the end of a Tendayi Darikwa's cross.
The Championship side came close to leading the score after the break, when Welsh international Sam Vokes broke through Arsenal’s defence, but Alex Iwobi’s last-ditch intervention saved the day for the Gunners. Vokes created more anxiety for the hosts in the dying minutes, but his attempt to equalise lacked power.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger gave credit to Burnley’s fighting spirit: “For the first 20 minutes we looked quite in control but when they equalised suddenly you could see energy, commitment, and we had to dig deep to win the game.”
With his 1100th game as Arsenal manager, Wenger maintained his record of only losing to one lower-league side in 41 FA Cup ties.
Meanwhile Manchester City eased past Premier League trailers Aston Villa with a stunning hat trick from 19 year-old striker Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Nigerian striker put City in front in less than five minutes, when he latched onto a rebound after Villa failed to clear a corner kick. Iheanacho doubled the score twenty minutes later with a penalty, before breaking free for his third goal in the 74th minute, following a calamitous back-pass from Micah Richards.
Two minutes later Raheem Sterling got an easy chance to add his name to the score-sheet, when Iheanacho’s botched attempt at an overhead kick landed at the England international’s feet.
Villa put little pressure on the visitor’s defence in what turned out to be a once-sided encounter. With his side currently second in the Premier League, battling away in the knock-out stages of the Champions League and set to face Liverpool in the League Cup, manager Manuel Pellegrini had to play down talk of a quadruple before the match.
“It isn’t a good way of thinking”, the Chilean coach said. “In my first season, we won two trophies but were out of the FA Cup in the quarter-final and the Champions League in the last-16.”
Tottenham sailed through to the fifth round for the first time in three years with a comfortable 4-1 win over League one side Colchester.
Nacer Chadli opened the score from 20 yards with a curling shot, before Eric Dier netted a second with a deflected shot in the 64th minute. The Belgian winger was on target again with a header in the 78th minute, and midfielder Tom Carrol slammed home a fourth from close range.
Colchester took little consolation from a Ben Davies own-goal in the 80th minute, in a game which could have yielded more goals for the visitors. To make matters worse for the hosts, both their centre-backs Tom Eastman and Alex Wynter had to be replaced after a head-to-head collision early on in the first half.
Tottenham sealed their tenth consecutive away game in all competitions, and will be hoping to conquer the FA Cup for the first time since Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne lifted the trophy 25 years ago. Spurs are also fighting for a place in next season’s Champions League.
“We have a very strong squad,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said after the match. “We want to stay in all competitions and go far, and for that you need the whole squad. It was important again today to respect every competition. ”
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