Cleat Geeks

Aggressive Angel, pitch invasions and the rest of the FA Cup action

The best was saved until last in the FA Cup over the weekend, and six teams remain in contention for Wembley glory. Only Aston Villa and Arsenal managed to book their semi-final berths, with the defending champions defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Danny Welbeck scored the winning goal for the Londoners.

Danny Welbeck scored the winning goal for the Londoners.

The Gunners triumphed in what was an absorbing contest, taking the lead midway through the first-half through Naxto Monreal’s goal after a great assist by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wayne Rooney equalized just four minutes later, but former United striker Danny Welbeck netted the winner for the Londoners. The 24 year-old pounced on a short Antonio Valencia back pass before rounding David De Gea and scoring.

Angel Di Maria managed to get himself sent off in 30 seconds or so; firstly, referee Michael Oliver booked the Argentinian for diving on the edge of the area. The $60 million midfielder responded by aggressively yanking the referees shirt, for which Oliver showed him a second yellow and sent him for an early bath. United manager, Louis Van Gaal, said of Di Maria; ” I know of course and Angel di Maria knows he doesn’t have to touch the referee. That’s not so smart.”

Arsenal must be huge favorites to retain their FA Cup crown, after they were handed a favorable semi-final draw against either League One Bradford City or Championship side Reading.

The Bantams and The Royals played out a tame quarter-final on Saturday that ended goalless. The Valley Parade pitch did little to promote free flowing football and hopefully the replay at Reading’s Madjeski Stadium on Monday March 16th will be a little more, for want of a better word, entertaining.

Steve Clarke, Reading’s manager, was left fuming at the replay date, however. The game will be played just two days after both sides’ league fixtures and UEFA won’t allow them to play the game on either the Tuesday or Wednesday of next week due to the last 16 Champions League matches that are taking place then. Clarke told the Guardian; “I think the Football Association are devaluing their competition a little bit by making both teams play on Saturday, then Monday.”

Tim Sherwood seems to be slowly turning things around at Aston Villa, and the Midlands side booked their place in the Wembley semi-finals at the expense of local rivals West Brom. Fabian Delph and Scott Sinclair each scored second half goals to earn a second victory over the Baggies in five days, following their Premier League triumph.

Sherwood’s big win was marred by an impromptu pitch invasion from Villa fans before the final whistle. There was another predictable surge of supporters entering the field when referee Anthony Taylor did blow for full time. The FA are investigating both pitch invasions amid claims by goal scorer Delph that he was bitten by a fan. He told the Mirror; “It was dangerous. Someone tried to take my boot off. People tried to kiss me and were biting me. It was scary.”rovers

Championship side Blackburn Rovers held on form Liverpool to a goalless stalemate at Anfield. A tight, professional, solid defensive effort saw Rovers through the 90 minutes relatively comfortably, and they are not without a chance in the replay at Ewood Park.

A replay that won’t be played until early April, according to Pool boss Brendan Rodgers, who told Sky Sports; “I believe the replay is early April, the 7th or 8th. It is certainly not what it is for Reading and Bradford. That is unbelievable. “I feel for them, having to play Saturday and again on Monday. It is incredible. It’s unfair for both clubs with so much at stake. I feel sorry for (Bradford manager) Parky and for Steve (Clarke) and for the players.”

The FA Cup semi-final draw (to be played April 18th and 19th):

Bradford City/Reading v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Liverpool/Blackburn Rovers

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