Category Archives: FA Cup

Managerless Nottingham Forest ousts FA Cup holders Arsenal

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Managerless Championship team Nottingham Forest has ousted FA Cup holders Arsenal from the competition after a stunning 4-2 win over the Gunners.

Forest had a dream start when they took the lead through Eric Lichaj — who headed in from close range. Though the advantage lasted just three minutes as Per Mertesacker followed up after Rob Holding’s header had struck the post, Lichaj was able to reclaim the lead with a spectacular dipping volley from the edge of the area a minute before half-time.

Further trouble spelled for Arsenal as Forest pulled further clear in the second half when Ben Brereton sent David Ospina the wrong way from the penalty spot after Holding upended Matty Cash.

While Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit for Arsenal again after Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith failed to hold a through-ball, Arsenal’s first FA Cup third-round defeat since January 1996 — in a replay against Sheffield United — was confirmed courtesy of Kieran Dowell’s 85th-minute penalty.

The championship team who are 14th in English football’s second tier lost 1-0 at home to struggling Sunderland, leading to the dismissal of manager Mark Warburton with the side having won one of their past seven league games. However, caretaker manager Gary Brazil oversaw Monday’s goalless draw with play-off hopefuls Leeds United and that turnaround in form continued from the first whistle against Arsenal.

On the other hand, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made nine changes for the trip to the City Ground but said he was entitled to field such an experimental side with the League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea mid-week. While the Frenchman added that Arsenal needed to take responsibility for themselves, he chose not to add any criticisms of referees — a staple of his comments in recent weeks.

“I have said what I had to say many times and will not talk about the referees,” Wenger said. “I’ve talked about that and I have nothing to add. I just think we were not good enough anywhere — not up front, in the middle or at the back — and we paid for it. We repeated the same mistakes — once, twice, three times.”

“They [Forest] looked sharper. They had more chances and an outstanding performance. They were sharp, winning decisive challenges, and dangerous going forward, and overall they deserved to win, as simple as that. Overall I would like to congratulate Nottingham Forest.”

Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard close to signing new Chelsea deals

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Thibaut Courtois has said he is close to signing a new contract at Chelsea and the goalkeeper suggested while hinting that his Belgium team-mate Eden Hazard could be ready to follow suit.

Courtois, whose deal at Chelsea expires in the summer of 2019, appeared to be firm over his intention to extend at Chelsea after the club’s 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night.

“It has just turned the new year so we will wait a few weeks and then sit around the table,” Courtois said. “I’m happy at Chelsea and a deal is close. Has it been a distraction? Not for me. I’m just calm and relaxed because I’m tied to Chelsea. Despite the rumours and everything, I am focused on Chelsea and I’m happy here.”

As for his compatriot, Eden Hazard is contracted with the Blues to 2020. While Courtois believes that the midfielder’s departure could deal a lot of hurt to the club, the keeper believes that Hazard would spend the peak years of his career at Stamford Bridge.

“Losing a player like Eden would be bad for the club,” Courtois added. “Eden is irreplaceable. With the money he will raise, you can buy five players but none of them will be like Eden. It would be like Barcelona losing Lionel Messi or Real Madrid losing Cristiano Ronaldo.”

“If you excel, there will always be teams interested in signing the biggest players. But that’s why if Chelsea have ambition to be the best club in the world, these kind of players have to stay.”

“Do Eden and I encourage each other to sign? Yes. He will say: ‘If you sign, I will sign,’ and I say the same to him. I think we are both happy at Chelsea, we both have a good part to play. We have been champions twice in the four seasons I have been here and we can have our peak years together at Chelsea.”

While Chelsea sit third in the Premier League and 16 points behind the leaders, Manchester City, Courtois remains confident that the club can finish the season with a major trophy as they advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they have been drawn to face FC Barcelona.

Prediction:

Norwich City 0 — 3 Chelsea

Arsenal wins record seventh FA Cup under Wenger

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Arsenal won 2-1 against Premier League Champions Chelsea for Arsene Wenger to secure a record seventh FA Cup title in his 21st season as manager of the club.

The Gunners began with all guns blazing at Wembley as Alexis Sanchez scored the opening goal after only four minutes, when referee Anthony Taylor overruled his assistant after he had been flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey, although Chelsea also complained that Sanchez had handled in the process.

While they had some right to rue that particular decision, they would have none as Victor Moses was correctly sent off by Taylor in the second half after receiving a second yellow card for diving.

As Arsenal dominated the game for long periods, they remained unable to capitalise on their chances as Danny Welbeck and Ramsey both found the woodwork, with Blues defender Gary Cahill also contributing perfect clearances that helped Chelsea stay in the game.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa then equalized as Arsenal keeper David Ospina failed to keep out his deflected shot with 14 minutes left to keep a domestic double in sight for the Premier League winners.

However, Arsenal were not one to be denied as Ramsey — who had scored the FA Cup final winner against Hull City back in 2014 — did it again with a header as Olivier Giroud’s cross found him free.

And as the final whistle sounded, Arsene Wenger would decorate a season of heavy criticism with a record 13th FA Cup win for Arsenal— and a record seventh for the Frenchman.

His team had not been favourites against Manchester City in the semi-final as well as here in Wembley — a point Wenger used to pay further tribute to his team.

“You cannot get two tougher opponents, but we produced two outstanding performances,” he said. “That is what makes me particularly proud, because no one gave us a chance at Wembley and we responded with attitude and class.”

“We had an outstanding performance from the first minute onwards. This team has suffered, but they’ve united and responded. They showed strength and unity and played spectacular football.”

Arsenal wards off major interest to sign Sead Kolasinac

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Schalke 04’s Sead Kolasinac will be the first to join Arsenal in the transfer window this summer after agreeing personal term and a medical at the Emirates.

Kolasinac has made near to 130 senior appearances for Schalke since joining from Stuttgart in 2011 and is likely to become a regular in the Arsenal defence next season.

Although a defensive player, Kolasinac, 23, has been involved in eight goals this season — twice as many as in his first four Bundesliga seasons combined.

His move will represent something of a coup for Arsenal as major clubs such as AC Milan, Chelsea, Everton, Juventus and Manchester City have all expressed interest in Kolasinac.

Arsene Wenger has been looking to reinforce the Gunners defense after frequent exposures of a lacking back line this season. The importing of Kolasinac into the fold of the Premier League would is a sign of his first step in doing so.

The Bosnia & Herzegovina international will move to London on a free transfer his contract at Schalke expires on June 30. He was in England two weeks ago for a sponsorship event and underwent medical tests during his short trip.

While Wenger insisted in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Manchester City that no deal had been agreed for Kolasinac, other reports claimed that the defender will become an Arsenal player once his contract with Schalke expires this summer.