FA Cup Notebook: Arsenal out-gunned and Newcastle crash out to League One Cambridge

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January 10th, 2022

The magic of the FA Cup was alive and well during the weekend, as the third round threw up plenty of surprises. A couple of non-league sides ensured they were still in the hat for round four, while a few Premier League giants got the shock of their lives.

Here's everything you need to know after the third round.

Smash and Grabban

Arsenal are 14-time winners of the FA Cup, but for the second time in four years they’ve been knocked out after just one match. Lewis Grabban scored the decisive goal for Championship side Nottingham Forest with just seven minutes left at the City Ground.

Mikel Arteta came out and apologized to the fans afterwards as the Gunners failed to have a shot on target against their lower league opponents. Arsenal had strung together five straight wins in December, but 2022 has gotten off to a nightmare start with the team imploding in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the league, and now FA Cup humiliation.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Gunners, who face Tottenham in a North London Derby on Saturday, sandwiched in between two games against Liverpool in the League Cup.

Tottenham survive a scare

Arsenal’s North London rivals Spurs survived an embarrassing scare of their own at home to Morecambe, who are fighting relegation in League One. Shrimps defender Antony O’Connor scored the opening goal in the first half to give fans on the road belief, and Tottenham spent the next 40 minutes dominating the ball but failing to create much.

With 20 minutes to go, Antonio Conte was forced to bring on Lucas Moura and Harry Kane, and those substitutions changed the game. Harry Winks equalized for Spurs with 15 minutes to go, and both Moura and Kane found the back of the net inside the last five minutes to deny Morecambe a famous result.

Conte is unbeaten in the league since taking charge at Spurs, but their lackluster League Cup defeat to Chelsea sparked some questions, and defeat here would have undone a lot of his good work. Scare survived for the new coach.

Newcastle are top of the shocks

The richest club in the world were left humiliated on Saturday as Cambridge, 16th in League One, travelled up to St James’ Park and stunned the hosts 1-0 courtesy of striker Joe Ironside’s 56th minute strike.

It’s another disastrous weekend for Newcastle, who now must go back to their fight for Premier League survival. Eddie Howe can’t even blame squad rotation as he played nearly a full-string first XI including new signing Kieran Trippier. The Magpies had a total of 23 shots on goal but struggled to find a way past Cambridge keeper Dimitar Mitov, and Newcastle’s attacking woes won’t get any easier as it was revealed over the weekend that top scorer Callum Wilson is out with a calf injury for another eight weeks.

In other cup shocks, non-league Kidderminster beat Championship side Reading 2-1, and will be joined by non-league Boreham Wood in the fourth round after they beat AFC Wimbledon 2-0.

Easy Round Four Parlay?

The draw for round four has been ultimately kind to the premier League’s big boys. Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea all bagged home games against lower league opposition, while Manchester United can be added to that category if they beat Aston Villa on Monday. West Ham were drawn on the road, but will be heavy favorites against non-league Kidderminster, while Tottenham also got the benefit of a home draw against relegation-threatened Norwich.

For the six sides left in the competition who are in the top seven in the Premier League, these are all very winnable ties, and make an intriguing Round Four parlay.

Notable Fourth Round ties

Manchester City vs. Fulham
Liverpool vs. Cardiff
Chelsea vs. Plymouth
Manchester United/Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough
Kidderminster vs. West Ham
Tottenham vs. Brighton

City on for more silverware

It was a routine FA Cup win for Manchester City on Friday night, as they won 4-1 away to Swindon Town. Pep Guardiola was able to rest a number of key stars as City look to kick-on in their hunt for silverware. The Citizens now have a favorable fourth round tie at home to Championship side Fulham, and have a 10-point lead in the Premier League.

Next month they will resume their challenge for the club’s first ever European Cup when they take on Sporting Lisbon in the knock-out round of the Champions League, and after winning 14 of their last 15 games in all competitions, it’s hard not to fancy the chances of Pep’s squad lifting all three trophies at the end of the season.