The quarter finals of the FA Cup came around this weekend with all the misty-eyed ex-football player pundits cooing over the ‘magic of the cup’ audiences could ever want.
The fixture of the weekend for most was the fairytale story of non-league side Lincoln’s record breaking FA Cup run, turning up at the Emirates to face a surprisingly strong Arsenal side set out by Arsene Wenger. It was evident Wenger was taking no risks after Arsenal’s humiliation in the Champions League and, much to the footballing world’s dismay, Arsenal dispatched of their non-league counterparts relatively comfortably, the game finishing 5-0 at the Emirates. The Imps put up a real fight in the first half with Arsenal only managing to score in the 46th minute. Unfortunately, their team of World Cup winners and ex-Barcelona players clinically put another four past Lincoln in the second half, bringing their historical cup run to an end.
The other game on Saturday was business as usual for Manchester City who eased past Middlesborough to reach the semi-final and Wembley next month. As for the Sunday game of the quarterfinal fixtures, Spurs humiliated Millwall 5-0 with some fantastic goals, particularly amongst Son Heung-min’s hat trick, propelling them into the semi-final.
It wasn’t all good news for the north London side though, as their prolific star striker Harry Kane limped off after half an hour with a nasty looking ankle injury that is being reported as more serious than the one that saw him sidelined for 7 week at the start of the season. Tottenham’s win followed by Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester United means that the four semi-finalists are all from the top six in the country. This season, despite the fairytale stories of Lincoln and Sutton, the cup has truly been dominated by the best in the country.
Another week and another twist in the tale that is the race for promotion to the Premier League. Brighton comfortably put away a sorry looking Derby County side that couldn’t deal with Brighton’s attacking prowess, the game was the last of Steve McLaren’s second tenure at the East Midlands club. The trio of goal scorers, Knockaert, Baldock and Murray, who have been so instrumental in Brighton’s push for promotion, kept up their scoring form to ensure Brighton went level on points with Newcastle.
Newcastle then had the chance to put three points between them and Brighton with a seemingly straightforward home game against play-off chasing Fulham. As we have witnessed an uncountable number of times this season, nothing is simple in the Championship, with teenage fullback Ryan Sessegnon’s brace securing a comfortable win for Fulham against the league leaders.
So now it is only goal difference that separates Brighton and Newcastle at the top of the Championship but an on-form Huddersfield are hot on both of their tails. The race for Premier League promotion is almost certainly going to go down to the wire.