5 Big Stories From The FA Cup: Fifth Round

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5 Big Stories From The FA Cup: Fifth Round

This is the point in the tournament where clubs have to decide whether to make a go of it. In the Third and Fourth Round you can get away with sending out youth and reserves, especially if you’re up against lower league opposition. The Fifth Round is where you decide how important the Cup is to you. For most teams it depends on how they’re doing in the league and whether they’re still in Europe. But regardless of their seasons to date, one thing is clear— once you’re past the Fifth Round, there’s no looking back. You’re in it to win, and if you don’t it can wreck your whole campaign. This weekend we saw some surprising blowouts, an even more surprising draw, and an object lesson in matchday etiquette. If you missed anything this weekend, we’ll get you caught up.

(And if you have time this afternoon, be sure to check out the last tie of the Fifth Round as Manchester United travel to League One side Shrewsbury Town. Kickoff is at 2:45pm EST on Fox Sports 1.)

1. Manchester City Gambled On Youth— And Lost

City are still in the title race and have also made the Champions League a priority. With the realities of squad management being what they are, something had to give. That something was apparently the FA Cup, as Manuel Pellegrini sent out a team of fringe players and U21 hopefuls. And they got thrashed by a Chelsea side who have all but given up on the league (except insofar as relegation isn’t totally out of the question yet). While the claims that Pellegrini “disrespected” the competition are overblown, it’s still something of a disappointment when you see a teamsheet that’s geared toward fulfilling their obligations to the FA and not a whole lot more.

2. Arsenal Couldn’t Breach Hull

So Hull City managed to play FA Cup football against Arsenal and not lose. Considering how their meetings in the past two seasons of the tournament went, that’s pretty good. It is, in fact, their best Cup performance against Arsenal since the 16th minute of the 2014 Final, when they had a 2-0 lead over the Gunners. They’ll host a replay at some point in the next couple of weeks with the promise of a quarterfinal tie against Watford if they can squeak through.

3. West Ham Aren’t Messing Around

It may be Blackburn— who aren’t doing that great at the moment— but West Ham’s comprehensive thumping was still quite an achievement. (Even if they did finish with 10 men, along with their opponents.) They’re facing either Manchester United or Shrewsbury Town in the quarterfinals, both of which, for different reasons, are totally beatable. The Hammers are starting to look like credible, albeit outside, candidates to make the Final.

4. Everton Redeemed Themselves On The South Coast

After the wild 3-3 draw in the league earlier in the season, the Cup rematch between Bournemouth and Everton was moved to a TV slot in hopes of a repeat. Sadly, not frenetic late scrambles this weekend. Everton controlled the game from the outset and more or less cruised to a 2-0, featuring a somewhat improbable opener from Ross Barkley as a first strike.

5. Please Don’t Throw Things At The Players

You shouldn’t have to say that to adults, yet here we are. Someone (or several someones) threw coins and other objects at West Brom players, catching Chris Brunt in the eye and forcing stewards to restrain him from leaping into the stands. West Brom ended up losing 3-1 to lower league opposition, but the team (especially Tony Pulis) were so incensed that the scoreline was almost beside the point. The FA is launching an investigation, but in the meantime Chelsea fans decided to play copycat. Seriously, people: don’t throw things at the players.

BONUS: Spare A Thought For Scott Wootton

(Skip to about 1:20.)

Thaaaaaat’s a shame.

Happy Monday!

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