Arsenal knocks out Tottenham in FA Cup
(CNN) — When the draw for the third round of the FA Cup was made, one match particularly enticed — Arsenal versus Tottenham.
With Arsenal leading the Premier League and Tottenham rejuvenated under new manager Tim Sherwood, the encounter between the north London rivals indeed promised much.
But in the end it was mostly one-way traffic and the Gunners prevailed 2-0 at home to advance in football’s oldest knockout competition.
The FA Cup is famous for its giant killings although on Saturday only one Premier League team lost to lower-division opposition, Aston Villa.
And even then, Villa’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United wasn’t that big of a surprise since Villa boss Paul Lambert said this week the FA Cup was a distraction.
Manchester City will still be favored to beat Blackburn in a replay following their 1-1 draw but the quadruple chasers are facing a stack of fixtures in January.
Arsenal, which trails only Manchester United in FA Cup successes, took an early lead when in-form Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla sent a left-footed shot into the top corner in the 31st minute.
Arsenal maintained the pressure in the second half and doubled the advantage when Tottenham fullback Danny Rose was dispossessed by Tomas Rosicky near the halfway line.
Rosicky coolly beat Hugo Lloris in the 62nd minute to preserve manager Arsene Wenger’s streak of never losing in the third round.
“We won such an important game — it means a lot to us and the fans, obviously,” Rosicky told ITV.
The lone bad news for Arsenal was a leg injury to Theo Walcott, another player in form.
Walcott left the pitch in controversial fashion, telling Tottenham fans — with his hands — what the score was.
Wenger said he was told it was the England international’s reaction to being hit with coins.
“What he did was not offensive,” Wenger told reporters.
“I don’t think the FA will take any action. I have seen the pictures and he is not being aggressive. He is smiling.”
Tottenham was unable to build on its 2-1 win at Manchester United in the league on Wednesday and was eliminated from a Cup competition for the second time in about two weeks.
With Sherwood at the helm, then as a caretaker, Spurs lost to West Ham at White Hart Lane in the League Cup quarterfinals.
Despite saying that most Premier League managers would prefer to avoid the FA Cup, Lambert fielded star striker Christian Benteke against third-tier struggler Sheffield United.
But it was Ryan Flynn who got a late winner at Villa Park — and now Lambert can focus fully on keeping his team in the top division.
“There was never any way I was decrying the competition at all,” a defiant Lambert told Villa’s website.
“You want to try and do a good run. If you look at the League Cup last time, we picked strong teams throughout the competition. I never take them lightly.”
Manchester City, embarrassed by Wigan in last year’s final, took a 1-0 lead at second-tier Blackburn though conceded the equalizer in the 55th minute.
“I think it’s very important to still be in the cup — we played against a strong home team,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told the club website.
City, which finished with 10 men after the 85th-minute dismissal of Dedryck Boyata, could play seven more games in January, a test even for its deep squad.
Wigan, now in the Championship, will replay against the MK Dons after a 3-3 draw.
In the all Premier League ties, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began his reign as Cardiff boss with a 2-1 upset win at Newcastle; Norwich and Fulham drew 1-1; and Crystal Palace won 2-0 at West Bromwich Albion.
Macclesfield, the lowest-ranked team in the third round, earned a replay by drawing Sheffield Wednesday 1-1.
Among Sunday’s matches, Derby hosts Chelsea and Manchester United entertains Swansea.
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