Arsenal 3 (Adebayor 51, 83, Butt og 89) Newcastle 0
What were we so worried about? After a first half display that lacked a lot of cohesion, and in which Newcastle admittedly caused a few problems without creating much in the way of clear cut chances, the second half was completely one sided, and Arsenal strolled through to round five.
Early on, Rosicky did what Rosicky always does – got injured just as he was getting into some kind of form, and was replaced by Eduardo. Clichy had to be alert to clear Smith’s shot off the line, while Cesc had the best chance, toe poking Clichy’s excellent long ball straight at Given. Diaby also forced a fine save with a curling effort, but 0-0 was about right for a half in which the sides mainly cancelled each other out, despite attacking intent at either end.
If the first half was disappointing, the second half was anything but. Early on, the crucial breakthough was made when Cesc’s flick round the corner found Eduardo, whose curling shot came back off the post to Adebayor, who beat two defenders before smashing the ball into the corner. An excellent goal, but better was to follow when the same man ran round the entire back four before firing low beyond Given for his second, and eighteenth of a prolific season. When ex-United midfielder Butt headed past his own keeper for number three, the icing was truly on the cake.
It is turning into a remarkable FA Cup – with Man City currently losing the final fourth round match, there are set to be only six Premiership teams in the last sixteen – the traditional big four, plus Boro and Pompey. That’s it. Which, for all the talk of the cup regaining its romance, especially with Havant scoring twice at Anfield yesterday, does almost guarantee that for the 13th season running, one of Arsenal, Chelsea, United or Liverpool will win it.
Also, as a slight sideshow, both the BBC and Sky will be scrabbling around for repeats to show in ten days time, as there are precisely zero replays required. Ha.
Meanwhile, in Ghana, Alex Song played well in Cameroon’s 5-1 drubbing of Benin which revitalises their campaign, while Nigeria drew with Mali, ensuring that they’re struggling to qualify. Ironically, Eboue could do Arsenal a favour by helping the Ivorians beat Mali, thus taking Nigeria through with them and ensuring that the likes of Mikel stay away from the Premiership for a little longer. There’s a sub plot for you.
Not a lot of news elsewhere – the draw for the fifth round is at lunchtime tomorrow, and with so many top flight teams out already, only five of fifteen potential opponents are in the same league as us. Let’s hope for a comfortable draw, especially as the match will come a few days before the first leg against Milan.