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Thierry Henry spared Arsenal's blushes at the Emirates, spicing up a fairly dismal game with a moment of magic as he made his second debut with the club as a substitute against the once-mighty Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup. It was a game that will by no means go down as a classic. The hosts had most of the ball but couldn't really figure out what to do with it, and the visitors were seemingly content to make error after error in defence that the Andrei Arshavin-Marouane Chamakh-Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain appeared powerless to do anything with.
The Gunners' inability to put any of their chances away made for a very tense match, and Henry's introduction in the 68th minute was no mere display of nostalgia on Arsene Wenger's part - he needed a striker with the composure to score goals. The manager only had to wait a few minutes before his substitution paid off with the Arsenal legend deftly curling a shot past Andy Lornegan to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Henry's 227th goal for Arsenal nearly didn't stand up though. Leeds, finally free to attack without fear of going behind, started to look troubling, and the visitors had several late chances that they should probably have put away, with Wojciech Szczesny saving from Mikael Forssel at the very death to preserve the victory. The win sees the Gunners through to the fourth round, where they'll meet Aston Villa.
Oh, and since it was an Arsenal match, their 'right back*'got injured in the 33rd minute.
*I.e. Francis Coquillin, a reserves midfielder
Leeds are travelling to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. That's interesting, but the real story here is Arsenal's bench, which features a man many Gunners are rather fond of: Thierry Henry. Yep, the Arsenal legend is back from his long absence (although only on a short-term loan), and with Arsenal in desperate need of striker help he should see plenty of pitch time. Expect rapturous applause when he does come on today.
Arsenal lineup (4-3-3): Wojciech Szczesny; Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny, Sebastian Squillaci, Ignasi Miquel; Alex Song, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marouane Chamakh, Andrei Arshavin.
Substitutes from: Alex Bruce, Michael Brown, Lloyd Sam, Mikael Forssell, Ben Parker, Maik Taylor, Ross McCormack.
Arsenal will host Leeds United on Monday night in the FA Cup, where Thierry Henry is expected to make an appearance for the Gunners.
Liverpool and Manchester United have been drawn together in the 4th Round of the FA Cup!
The Blues flattered to deceive against lowly Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge, labouring for much of the match with a 1-0 lead before a late flurry of goals led to a convincing-looking scoreline. Considering that Andre Villas-Boas played essentially a full-strength side against a team 33 places below them in the standings, it was a pretty sad display, and if not for a crucial intervention by John Terry following an error by David Luiz the score could have been very different. Still, goals by Juan Mata, Ramires (twice) and Frank Lampard see Chelsea through to the fourth round.
League One Sheffield Wednesday pulled off a minor upset against West Ham with a very late 1-0 win. By and large outclassed by their Championship opponents, Wednesday managed to ride their luck throughout the match - the Hammers had a Sam Baldock penalty saved and also hit the post before Chris O'Grady slammed in from 12 yards in the 88th minute to give the hosts a surprise lead. The Owls then just about survived nine minutes of injury time to claim a prize scalp.
Sunderland had to rely on a pair of set pieces to beat Peterborough, but their win was well-deserved anyway. Despite being unable to penetrate Joe Lewis' guard from open play, the visitors were dominant throughout, hitting the bar early and putting major pressure on their hosts. It took until the second half for the Black Cats to open up their account, their opener coming through a Sebastian Larsson free kick. James McClean wrapped things up with a header from a corner ten minutes later.
Well that was some game. Manchester United looked in total control at halftime only to let City get back into the match and nearly throw everything away at the very end. It was hardly the result we were expecting from two vastly experienced sides, especially after the events of the first fifteen minutes. City dominated possession only to let the visitors snatch an exquisite goal on the counterattack, Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia combining for a long-range one-two that eventually saw the England striker nod in off the bottom of the crossbar. Minutes later, things got worse for the hosts when captain Vincent Kompany saw red for a two-footed scissor tackle on Nani. It was a harsh sending off, but nowhere near as controversial as it's being painted as.
Up a goal and a man, you'd have put good money on a team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson to put their opponents to the sword, and United looked like obliging for a while, overrunning a makeshift City defence to score twice more before halftime, the first a sweet volley by Danny Welbeck and the second coming after Costel Pantilimon saved a Rooney penalty only to gift the same man with the rebound.
At halftime, Roberto Mancini pulled off both of his wingers to reshape his defence in a move seemingly designed to avoid embarrassment. Instead, City scored almost immediately after the restart, with Patrice Evra fouling Micah Richards within shooting range and Aleksandar Kolarov curled past a stationary Anders Lindegaard, making it 3-1.
More was to come, and the sideshow surrounding the de-retired Paul Scholes took on a more amusing tone when the legendary midfielder gave the ball away on the United left, leading to a fantastic chance for Sergio Aguero. The Argentine's first shot was saved, but Lindegaard couldn't hold onto the ball and the former Atletico man was on hand to smash in his own rebound.
United, who were cruising in the first half, suddenly found themselves only a goal up, and they were having to deal with wave after wave of City attack in front of some very dodgy goalkeeping. David de Gea is one man who'll be happy with Lindegaard's display - the long-time backup flapped at basically everything and came very close to handing the hosts an equaliser on several occasions.
Eventually, the visitors managed to settle down and looked as though they were going to be able to see out the three minutes of injury time without further incident. However, City finally managed to get the ball and scramble it forward to Micah Richards, who was brought down by Rio Ferdinand for one last chance. Kolorav swung it in, Lindegaard spilled, but none of the City players could get on the end of the ball.
After a corner which saw Pantilimon (City's goalkeeper) win a header, Chris Foy blew for full time, and the holders ended up out at the first hurdle. No matter how good the second-half performance was from the hosts, United's display in the first half was worthy of a win. 3-2 sounds just about right.
Maybe playing someone who was retired yesterday in a big game against your fiercest rivals isn't the best idea after all. A Manchester United throw in on the left flank all goes horribly wrong when Paul Scholes loses possession, and the ball pops out to Sergio Aguero in the centre. His initial shot is well saved by Anders Lindegaard, but the goalkeeper can't hold it and is left helpless when the Argentine striker follows up and buries the rebound.
That makes it 3-2 and City are making things very interesting now, despite being down a man and having their two creative wingers off. Can they really make a comeback here? They've got all the momentum and more than twenty minutes to get a third goal, and United look almost dead on their feet. It'd be a crushing blow to throw this all away now, although you have to admit that the visitors still look more likely to score.
Well that's one way of making things interesting. Roberto Mancini made a pair of defensive substitutions at half time, presumably in an attempt to avoid further embarrassment at the hands of Manchester United, but the first team to make any attempt on goal in the second half is City, and they've managed to pull a goal back within minutes of the interval.
Patrice Evra was shown yellow for brining down Micah Richards 25 yards from goal, and although the free kick was a reasonably difficult change Aleksandar Kolorov struck it perfectly, the ball swerving over the top of the wall and straight into the bottom corner. Anders Lindegaard was completely motionless - his positioning looked a little off, but he probably should have tried for that one.
At 3-1 and up a man as well, this still looks like the visitors' game to lose, but if City can snatch another, we might be looking at a very interesting conclusion to the match. Wayne Rooney comes close to making that speculation academic, but his shot is inches wide of the far post. That would have been some hattrick.
Yeah so this game is totally done, despite some heroics by Manchester City backup goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. Aleksandar Kolarov, who's been far from at his (mediocre) best today at left back, drags down Danny Welbeck in the penalty area and it's a clear penalty. Chris Foy duly blows his whistle and points to the spot, leaving Wayne Rooney to take.
The England man strode forward confidently and placed a decent effort to Pantilimon's left, but the keeper was mostly up to the challenge and pulled off a neat save. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough, as the rebound landed straight on Rooney's head and the striker nodded into an empty net. 3-0 United, and the Etihad Stadium is pretty quiet. City hadn't conceded more than one goal at home in any match so far this season, despite having faced both Bayern Munich and Napoli in the Champions League, so this hammering is coming as a bit of a shock.
That's this game over then. Despite being down to ten men Manchester City were looking pretty decent, even forcing Anders Lindegaard into a sublime flying save shortly after losing captain Vincent Kompany to a straight red, but Manchester United have been looking very dangerous indeed on the counterattack and they've made their hosts pay again.
Patrice Evra did well to get to the touchline and pull a cross back towards a crowd of bodies in the penalty area, but it looked like the chance had gone when the ball popped off a boot and looked set to drop between Samir Nasri and Nigel de Jong. But both City players hesitated and allowed Danny Welbeck to rush back into position, and the United striker sent a sweet hooked volley straight into the bottom corner of the goal, with Costel Pantilimon more or less helpless. That's 2-0 United and this match looks over. Revenge for 6-1, anyone?
Manchester City may have won 6-1 at Old Trafford, but their cross-town rivals have the advantage in the Etihad Stadium right now. After ten minutes of being pegged back by their hosts, Manchester United finally break forward and a pinpoint cross by Antonio Valencia is met in brilliant fashion by Wayne Rooney, whose header kisses the bottom of the crossbar on its way to the back of Costel Pantilimon's net.
Things have gotten even worse for the league leaders now though - within second of conceding, City are down to ten men! Centre half Vincent Kompany has been shown a straight red card for a two footed lunge on Nani, which seems a little harsh considering he both won the ball cleanly and never actually touched the United player. Was still dangerous play, however, which is assumedly what Chris Foy was thinking. If Kompany actually nicks Nani there the Portuguese could have been seriously injured.
So that's the holders down a goal and down a man at home to Manchester United. This could be quite interesting.
The big news coming out of Manchester before today’s derby is that Paul Scholes is back, and on Manchester United’s bench. The other news that could become fodder for transfer rumours is that he isn’t joined by Dimitar Berbatov; despite scoring 6 goals in his last 4 games, the Bulgarian is left out of the squad, replaced in the starting XI by Danny Welbeck. United make one other change, with Chris Smalling replacing Park Ji-Sung, meaning Antonio Valencia plays right midfield.
Manchester City name Owen Hargreaves onto their bench. Without the Toure brothers and the suspended Gareth Barry, James Milner and Nigel De Jong start in midfield, indicating that Hargreaves isn’t fully fit (and he still hasn’t played 90 minutes for City). Joe Hart is rested and is only on the bench, while Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko miss out through injuries.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Pantimilion; Kolarov, Lescott, Kompany, Richards; De Jong, Milner; Nasri, Silva, Johnson; Aguero
Subs: Hart, Clichy, Zabaletta, Savic, Suarez, Razek, Hargreaves
Manchester United (4-4-2): Lindegaard; Evra, Ferdinand, Jones, Smalling; Nani, Giggs, Carrick, Valencia; Welbeck, Rooney
Subs: De Gea, Evans, Rafael, Anderson, Park, Scholes, Hernandez
Manchester City are running out of players and Manchester United are only too happy as they look to rebound from a 6-1 humiliation at the hands of the Citizens
Aston Villa dominated Bristol Rovers for 90 minutes and attempted to throw away their result in stoppage time, but were unsuccessful, as they won 3-1. Alex McLeish made the slightly surprising decision to play close to a first choice XI against a team that his second team should be competitive with, but his team came out of the game with a convincing win and no serious injuries, backing up his decision.
Marc Albrighton put his team up 1-0 in the 35th minute with a good finish from just inside the penalty area, slotting home on a pass from Stiliyan Petrov. Gabriel Agbonlahor came on as a second half substitute and made an impact quickly, doubling his team's lead with a fantastic goal from 20 yards out on the 64th minute. Ciaran Clark put the game away with a goal in the 78th.
Villa fell asleep in stoppage time, gifting Bristol Rovers' Scott McGleish a goal, then giving away a penalty just one minute later. Fortunately for Villa, Brad Guzan saved McGleish's attempt, preventing what could have been an all-time epic meltdown.
The large set of fixtures played early on Saturday in the 2012 FA Cup didn't produce too many upsets, but Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town was able to knock out Wigan Athletic, while Macclesfield Town put in a great performance to force a replay in a 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers. The only Premier League side to lose other than Wigan was Blackburn, who fell 2-1 to Newcastle.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers join Bolton as Premier League teams who will be forced into a replay. All of the other Premier League teams who were in action won their games. Clint Dempsey put in a great performance for Fulham, scoring a hat trick in their 4-0 demolition of Charlton Athletic. Tottenham Hotspur and Everton also recorded shoutout wins. Here are all of the scores.
FA Cup, Third Round
Birmingham 0-0 Wilves
Dag and Red 0-0 Millwall
Barnsley 2-4 Swansea City
Brighton 1-1 Wrexham
Coventry 1-2 Southampton
Crawley 1-0 Bristol City
Derby County 1-0 Crystal Palace
Doncaster Rovers 0-2 Notts County
Everton 2-0 Tamworth
Fleetwood 1-5 Blackpool
Fulham 4-0 Charlton
Gillingham 1-3 Stoke City
Hull City 3-1 Ipswich
Macclesfield Town 2-2 Bolton
Middlesborough 1-0 Shrewsbury
MK Dons 1-1 QPR
Newcastle 2-1 Blackburn
Norwich City 4-1 Burnley
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Leicester City
Reading 0-1 Stevenage
Sheffield United 3-1 Salisbury City
Swindon Town 2-1 Wigan
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Cheltenham
Watford 4-2 Bradford City
West Bromwich Albion 4-2 Cardiff City
The first half hour of Liverpool's FA Cup Third Round match against Oldham was a disaster, but the final 60 minutes belonged to the Reds. The central defense pairing of Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates looked extremely shaky, but their midfield and attack played very well in the final 60 minutes and finished off their chances to guide their team to a 5-1 win and progression into the next round of the competition.
Oldham's Robbie Simpson opened the scoring with an absolute stunner in the 28th minute, hitting a spectacular volley from just outside of the area. Oldham had been the better side up until that point, and their goal was much deserved. Craig Bellamy would equalize instantly, however, deflecting a Jonjo Shelvey shot into the back of the net in the 30th minute. Liverpool would take the lead just before the stroke of halftime, gifted by Tom Adeyemi, who shoved down Maxi Rodriguez in the box. Steven Gerrard stepped up to convert.
Liverpool looked like the better side, but were hardly convincing and looked suceptible to an equalizer until Shelvey scored in the 69th minute, smashing in a finish from 12 yards, assisted by Bellamy. Andy Carroll came in as a substitute and scored a fantastic first-time half-volley goal in the 89th minute, while Stewart Downing added another goal, his first in a Liverpool shirt, in stoppage time.
The second half featured an unfortunate incident after which Adeyemi was seen on camera in tears after a bad interaction with the Kop. What exactly was said to Adeyemi isn't known at this point, but he was very visibly upset by whatever was hurled his way.
Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure will not be allowed to join the Ivory Coast late in preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations and will miss Manchester City's FA Cup third round tilt against Manchester United as a result. The pair had been hoping that Ivory Coast manager Francois Zahoui would allow them to stay with the Citizens for a couple extra matches before joining the national team just before the tournament begins, but Zahoui has rejected the brothers' request.
FIFA rules dicate that clubs are required to release players two weeks before a major tournament, meaning that all players chosen for the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins on January 21, would have to be released by January 7. Of course, teams could allow players to stay with their clubs if they choose and the Toure brothers and Manchester City were hoping that would be the case, but Zahoui has said no.
"Clubs know the rules," Zahoui told the BBC. "I'm expecting them for the FIFA deadline."
The two will now go to France to meet up with the squad before leaving for a training camp in Abu Dhabi. City manager Roberto Mancini had been appealing for the Toure brothers to at least be allowed to play against Manchester United as he deals with a few injuries and suspensions to his squad. Kolo's absence isn't a huge problem as City are fit at the back, but Gareth Barry is out due to suspension and Owen Hargreaves isn't match fit, leaving a hole in the midfield with Yaya out. That leaves Nigel de Jong and James Milner as the team's only options, but considering United's midfield woes, that could very well be enough.
Say, why do they call the opening round of the FA Cup the Third Round Proper? Oh those crazy English!!!
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