Sunderland vs. Arsenal  2 - 0



FA Cup wrap: Sunderland stun Arsenal, Chelsea draw

19 February 2012 03:08

Sunderland capped off a miserable week for Arsenal by knocking them out of the FA Cup, while Chelsea were held to a draw by Birmingham.

After Arsenal's demoralising 4-0 defeat to AC Milan in the

Champions League on Wednesday, their 2-0 loss at the Stadium of Light means Arsene Wenger's side appear destined for another season without a trophy.

Kieran Richardson scored the opening goal in the 40th minute after a Sebastian Larsson free kick was not completely cleared by visiting defenders.

Arsenal had the majority of possession for the match but Martin O'Neill's side were happy to sit back and attack on the counter.

The home side did that to perfection in the 77th minute when Stephane Sessegnon sped through the centre of the pitch before passing to Larsson.

The Swede's shot rebounded off the post and then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for an own goal as the Arsenal winger sprinted back to help in defence.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham at Stamford Bridge, increasing the pressure on boss Andre Villas-Boas.

David Murphy gave the Championship side the lead in the fifth-round tie, firing home after some indecisive defending from the hosts.

The Premier League side were punished after 20 minutes as Keith Fahey's corner from the left was flicked on and as Chelsea's defence dithered, Murphy ghosted in unmarked at the far post and slammed the ball home from six yards.

Colin Doyle then saved a Juan Mata spot-kick just minutes later after Ramires was clumsily cut down by Wade Elliott.

After replacing a misfiring Fernando Torres with Didier Drogba, Chelsea netted an equaliser just past the hour mark when Daniel Sturridge headed home from Branislav Ivanovic's cross.

Chelsea dominated possession for the rest of the half, but failed to beat Doyle again, setting up a replay at St Andrews next month.

Elsewhere, Everton booked their spot in the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Championship side Blackpool at Goodison Park.

Royston Drenthe was the star man, opening the scoring after just 49 seconds following a neat move involving Leighton Baines, Magaye Gueye and Marouane Fellaini.

Six minutes later the game was won as Drenthe turned provider for Denis Stracqualursi who poked home a corner from six yards.

Kevin Phillips missed a penalty for Blackpool in the final minute of the match.

Bolton also moved into the last eight, thanks to a 2-0 victory away at Millwall.

Like Everton they struck early, with Arsenal loanee Ryo Myaichi opening the scoring after just four minutes.

The visitors were dominating proceedings at the New Den and made it count on the scoreboard just before the hour mark with David N'Gog finding the back of the net to send Bolton into the next round.

Leicester City were the only Championship side to win on Saturday, upsetting Norwich 2-1 at Carrow Road.

The sides were level at the break after Wesley Hoolahan cancelled out Sean St Ledger's fifth-minute opener for Leicester.

David Nugent settled the match in the 71st minute, the former Portsmouth striker beating Jed Steer to seal the win for Leicester.


Wenger: FA Cup a priority

17 February 2012 17:27

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes to bounce back from his team's 4-0 thrashing away to AC Milan with an FA Cup victory over Sunderland.

Wenger's side were hammered in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie away to Serie A champions Milan on Wednesday.

The French manager was furious with his team's performance, reportedly issuing a harsh condemnation of his players at a subsequent training session this week.

While Arsenal now appear set to exit Europe's premier club competition, Wenger chose to focus on the positives ahead of Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round match at the Stadium of Light.

"We are back in fourth (in the English Premier League), we have an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-final of the FA Cup," he said.

"It's important that we're up for that and we don't feel sorry for ourselves because of that performance."

Wenger has not always fielded his strongest line-up in the FA Cup, preferring to concentrate of league and European competition.

But the 62-year-old confirmed he would be taking the world's oldest domestic cup very seriously this season.

"The FA Cup has always been important," he said.

"Because we had a big disappointment in the last match it is more important. But the FA Cup was always important anyway. It is one of my priorities."

"The FA Cup and Champions League collide a bit, and you see that again this year. We go to Milan, we go to Sunderland. But after Wednesday night it's important we have a good performance."

"We'll be playing a full strength side. I will re-fresh the team a bit because some players have played in many games recently. But we'll do the maximum to win this game"

Arsenal will be without the services of Thierry Henry after the conclusion of the veteran's loan move from New York Red Bulls.

Wenger paid tribute to the striker's positive influence on and off the pitch during his brief return to the club.

"Thierry was great on and off the pitch, we have lost somebody, but he always maintained hope and positive morale in the dressing room," he said.

"I would like to thank him for that and I wish him well for the season. I'm sure he'll have a great season with his club because he is sharp. I'm confident in the USA his team will do well."


FA Cup preview: Arsenal seek redemption against Sunderland

17 February 2012 06:32

All eyes will be on Arsenal when they travel to Sunderland for the only all-English Premier League FA Cup fifth-round clash.

Arsene Wenger's men are on the verge of elimination from the Champions League after being handed a 4-0 thrashing at AC Milan in their round-of-16 first-leg on Wednesday.

Saturday's trip to the Stadium of Light gives Arsenal a chance to respond, but a loss would all but end their hopes of collecting any silverware this campaign.

They will be looking for a repeat of the 2-1 win over Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday, which came thanks to Thierry Henry's late winner.

The loss was just Sunderland's second in 12 outings in all competitions, with Martin O'Neill's appointment on December 3 playing a vital part in a turnaround that has seen them jump into ninth in the league.

The state of Sunderland's pitch has also been brought into question recently, and defender Phil Bardsley admitted on Thursday it was in 'terrible' condition.

"I can't see too many top teams coming here and playing football on it. For the last three or four games, the pitch has been terrible. I think everybody knows that," he said.

In other matches, Chelsea host Championship outfit Birmingham City on Saturday.

Andre Villas-Boas will be keen to win and avoid being put under more pressure after admitting on Thursday he had lost the support of some of his players.

Chris Hughton's Birmingham side have become promotion contenders and enter the clash at Stamford Bridge on the back of a run of 13 matches without defeat in all competitions.

Carling Cup finalists Liverpool welcome second-tier side Brighton and Hove Albion to Anfield on Sunday, while Premier League title challengers Tottenham travel to Lamex Stadium to take on League One outfit Stevenage on the same day.

Everton will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to seven when they host Blackpool on Saturday, League Two surprise packets Crawley Town welcome Stoke City and Championship battlers Millwall host Premier League strugglers Bolton.

Norwich City host Leicester City at Carrow Road on Saturday in the other fifth-round meeting.

Championship table

# Team MP D P
19 22 -3 22
20 22 -10 21
21 22 -11 18
22 22 -26 17
23 22 -20 16

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
2 17 +26 38
3 18 +18 38
4 18 +11 33
5 18 +4 32
6 17 +14 31