Winners and Losers from FA Cup 5th Round: The Ox Helps Arsenal Edge Liverpool
It has been yet another riveting and drama-filled weekend of action in the FA Cup with a plethora of wonder goals, upsets, eye-catching incidents and talking points to mull over from the fifth round.
With the final now just two wins away for those sides lucky enough to have made it through safely to the last eight, these are the winners and the losers from Saturday's and Sunday's six ties.
City Finally Beginning to See the Real Jovetic
It has been a frustrating debut campaign at Eastlands so far for forward Stevan Jovetic following his much-hyped £22 million move from Fiorentina last summer with the 24-year-old having spent the vast majority of his time in the north-west sidelined with various niggling injuries.
However, the Montenegrin enjoyed his best match for his new team on Saturday evening as City knocked rivals Chelsea out of the FA Cup to exact a measure of revenge for their 1-0 loss to the same opponents in the Premier League earlier this month. Jovetic sent the home side on their way to victory by opening the scoring just past the quarter-hour mark in that match.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping that Jovetic's well-taken strike, just the player's fourth in total all campaign, will instil Jovetic with the sort of confidence in front of goal that he displayed on a regular basis during his time in Florence.
Good shift from Jovetic, scoring, tracking back, pressing, linking etc, deepens City's attacking options, but dive embarrassing— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 15, 2014
Big Ben Strikes Again
A bit like with busses, Wigan Athletic fans waited 80 years to get their hands on some silverware, and now, the Latics are just two wins away from once again returning to Wembley Stadium in May to defend the trophy they won in such surprising circumstances against Manchester City last season. It comes following Saturday's shock victory at Premier League side Cardiff City.
Just like at the home of football nine months ago, Saturday afternoon’s match winner was none other than midfielder Ben Watson, with the former England Under-21 international's long-range piledriver five minutes before half-time ultimately proving to be the difference between the two sides.
Ben Watson has scored three goals in his last four FA Cup games - and the same amount in the league in two seasons http://t.co/KE28Iq12Bu— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) February 15, 2014
Saints Not Alive After Limp Cup Exit
It has been a small matter of 38 years since Southampton got their hands on the FA Cup for the first and only time in the south-coast club's 128-year history.
And so for Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino to elect to bench four first-team regulars against relegation-threatened Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday simply beggars belief.
The visitors, which rested the likes of Jose Fonte, Jack Cork, Morgan Schneiderlin and in-form front man Jay Rodriguez for their trip to the north-east, went on to lose the fifth-round tie 2-1, making it a double dose of cup misery at the hands of the Black Cats this season.
However, with the Saints virtually safe from relegation from the Premier League, having already collected an impressive haul of 39 points so far in this campaign, and with a trophy plus a place in Europe next season just three wins away for the winners on Wearside, one really has to question the thinking behind Pochettino's team selection.
Taylor's Terrible Misjudgement Helps Sink the Swans on Merseyside
Struggling Swansea City were more than holding their own at Goodison Park against high-flying Everton in their FA Cup fifth-round clash on Sunday afternoon with the scores locked at 1-1 midway through the second half, until left-back Neil Taylor's horrendous error enabled the home side to regain the lead. With it, any hopes the Swans may have had of causing an upset vanished in the blink of an eye.
The south Wales club, which are still under the interim management of player-coach Garry Monk following the sacking of Michael Laudrup, had done well to draw level in the first place through Jonathan De Guzman after the Toffees had taken a fourth-minute lead thanks to a debut strike from new loanee Lacina Traore.
With the visitors seemingly in control of the contest thereafter, the least that Monk would have been hoping for as the tie moved into its final quarter was a relay at the Liberty, only for the Wales international's calamitous backpass to give substitute Steven Naismith the simple task of sending Everton through to the quarter-finals.
WALESONLINE: Swansea City star Neil Taylor accepts blame for FA Cup defeat after horror back pass http://t.co/XN0NBUDgjC— Swansfc (@swansfc) February 16, 2014
Clough Still Up for the Cup
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough engineered a stunning cup upset against old foe Billy Davies as the Blades came from behind to beat Championship high-flyers Nottingham Forest 3-1 in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Bramall Lane this season.
In doing so, Clough kept alive the dream of finally winning the world's oldest cup competition with United becoming the lowest-ranked side to reach the last eight of the competition since 1990 after Sunday’s pulsating victory.
However, standing between Clough and Co. and a place in the semi-finals at Wembley lay Sheffield Wednesday, should their city rivals manage to get past Charlton Athletic in their delayed fifth-round clash at Hillsborough.
Sheffield Utd reach #FACup last 8. Manager Nigel Clough defeats Nottingham Forest, the team his father Brian managed in the 1991 Cup final.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) February 16, 2014
The Ox Proves Too Strong for Liverpool
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the Arsenal hero on Sunday afternoon as the north London club started what could be a defining week in their season with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Emirates to avenge their recent league mauling at the hands of the Merseysiders.
The England international continued his fine form since his recent comeback, following a long layoff with a knee injury, by turning in a man-of-the match display against the in-form Reds and set up a mouth-watering, last-eight clash at home to Everton.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 20, opened the scoring early on for the home side with his third goal of the season, before creating the winner for Lukas Podolski just after half-time after skinning Daniel Agger for pace on the right-hand touchline.
And if the wide man continues producing these types of eye-catching performances between now and the end of the campaign, then the Ox will be a shoe-in for Roy Hodgson's Three Lions squad travelling to Brazil this summer.