UPSET KLAXON: THE CHAMPIONS ARE OUT!
That’s right, we’re only into round four of the FA Cup, and we have already waved goodbye to the best team in last season’s edition of this grand old tournament.
Yes, FA Cup, we love you, you special thing.
So, what’s the word on the street from Saturday’s action in the fourth round of this glorious competition? Buckle up, folks – it’s roundup time.
We begin with the departure of our champions. Arsenal, the 2020 winners of the FA Cup, who were knocked out on Saturday afternoon, losing 1-0 to Southampton at St Mary’s. The game’s decisive moment arrived on 24 minutes, when centre-back Gabriel turned Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross into his own net with an outstretched boot.
The Gunners couldn’t muster a response to the hosts’ effort, and had to return to London with their trophy defence in tatters.
In fact, Arsenal were the only Premier League side to drop out of the FA Cup on Saturday. East Londoners West Ham United cruised into the fifth round, beating Doncaster Rovers 4-0 with utter ease.
Pablo Fornals opened the scoring after only two minutes, slotting home coolly from a Ryan Fredericks cross. Andriy Yarmolenko doubled the scoreline just after the half-hour mark, dinking the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper from a Said Benrahma through ball.
An Andy Butler own goal and an Oladapo Afolayan strike rounded off the scoring in the second half, seeing West Ham safely into the next round.
Elsewhere, Brighton also secured their progression to the fifth round, defeating Blackpool 2-1 at the Amex. The pick of the goals was scored by midfielder Yves Bissouma, who thundered one of the sweetest strikes you’ll ever see or hear into the top corner from all of 30 yards.
Blackpool’s Gary Madine equalised on the stroke of half-time, but Steven Alzate restored the Seagulls’ advantage on 58 minutes, deflecting Alexis Mac Allister’s strike into the far corner.
Sheffield United enjoyed some time away from the Premier League on Saturday, edging past Plymouth Argyle with a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane. Chris Basham headed home to break the deadlock and round off a lovely Blades move, before Billy Sharp added a second two minutes into the second half.
Panutche Camara halved Plymouth’s deficit with 15 minutes to play, but Chris Wilder’s men held on to book their place in the next round.
There were three all-Championship clashes on Saturday too, with the biggest shock coming at Oakwell. Barnsley bounced back from a couple of poor results to beat league leaders Norwich City 1-0 thanks to a second-half finish from Callum Styles.
Swansea City put Nottingham Forest to the sword during their battle in Wales, hammering the Tricky Trees 5-1 to place their name in the hat for round five. Liam Cullen gave the Swans the lead on seven minutes, and Matt Grimes put the hosts in control heading into the second half.
Forest clawed their way back into the game through Anthony Knockaert, but a Grimes penalty, a second goal for Cullen and a late Oliver Cooper effort blew their visitors away in great style.
And Millwall were battered at The Den by Bristol City, who ran out 3-0 winners over the Lions. Famara Diedhiou opened the visitors’ account on 22 minutes, before Nahki Wells killed the game just before the hour mark. Antoine Semenyo added the cherry on the cake for the Robins, dumping their hosts out comfortably in the fourth round.
Barnsley 1-0 Norwich City
Brighton 2-1 Blackpool
Millwall 0-3 Bristol City
Sheffield United 2-1 Plymouth
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal
Swansea City 5-1 Nottingham Forest
West Ham 4-0 Doncaster Rovers