The top Premier League clubs made a strong impression during Saturday's slate of FA Cup fixtures, with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City all advancing from the third round.
The Gunners beat Sunderland 3-1, while Manchester City easily handled Norwich City, winning 3-0. United didn't have it easy against Sheffield United, but a Wayne Rooney penalty saw them through to the next round.
As always, the FA Cup produced a fair share of upsets as well, including Eastleigh's remarkable draw against Bolton Wanderers. Here's a look at Saturday's full results:
|Everton||2-0||Dagenham & Redbridge|
|West Brom||2-2||Bristol City|
|Manchester Utd||1-0||Sheffield Utd|
Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win over Norwich City thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero, Kelechi Iheanacho and Kevin De Bruyne. The Citizens hadn't looked this comfortable playing away from the Etihad Stadium in a long time, and Saturday's win may hand the side a big boost moving forward.
Aguero's opener was an absolute beauty, as the Argentina international showed his soft touch and ability to change direction in a hurry, sprinting past no less than four Canaries defenders before slotting the ball home.
As the match wasn't broadcast, fans like BlueMoonRisingTV were forced to read about the goal, rather than watch it over and over again:
Aguero beats 4 players and scores a stunner the one day nobody can see it. @aguerosergiokun you bad tease.— BlueMoonRisingTV (@BMRisingTV) January 9, 2016
Aguero also set up City's second goal, holding onto the ball long enough before poking it to Iheanacho, who calmly slotted it home. The youngster continues to impress whenever he starts for City, and perhaps an increase in playing times is imminent.
Despite the comfortable lead, manager Manuel Pellegrini decided to send De Bruyne out for a portion of the second half, and the Belgian managed to get his name on the scoresheet as well.
Defending champions Arsenal survived a bit of a scare against Sunderland, winning 3-1 to advance to the fourth round. Per Squawka Football, the club is on quite the winning streak in the competition:
Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland FT: Arsenal win their 13th consecutive FA Cup tie, a run dating back to February 2013. pic.twitter.com/AYjEeu6W1x— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 9, 2016
Sunderland took a shock lead through Jeremain Lens, who took advantage of a horrid back pass from Kieran Gibbs and some shoddy defending from Laurent Koscielny to open the score.
Fortunately for the Gunners, Joel Campbell pulled his side level before half-time with a lovely finish from inside the box. SOCCER.COM tried to calm its fans down:
Okay....deep breath, Arsenal fans.— SOCCER.COM (@soccerdotcom) January 9, 2016
Aaron Ramsey made it 2-1 from close range, poking the ball home after a lovely run and pass from Hector Bellerin, and the Spaniard handed another assist to put the match away, finding Olivier Giroud for Arsenal's third goal of the afternoon.
Rooney converted a last-minute penalty to avoid embarrassment for Manchester United, who failed to break down an out-of-form Sheffield United squad for 90 minutes.
The penalty itself was debatable, as Memphis Depay was caught but seemed all too eager to go to the ground as well. The Times' James Ducker and Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail couldn't agree:
@DuckerTheTimes it was one of those where it's a foul but also a dive. Penalty, though.— Ian Ladyman (@Ian_Ladyman_DM) January 9, 2016
Rooney converted from the spot to ensure passage to the next round, although Old Trafford was hardly impressed and some sections loudly jeered manager Louis van Gaal after the final whistle.
Bournemouth beat Birmingham City thanks to a late goal from Glenn Murray, Everton did just enough to beat Dagenham & Redbridge and Stoke City won a hard-fought battle against Doncaster Rovers. West Bromwich Albion narrowly avoided an embarrassing upset, with James Morrison scoring late against Bristol City to force a replay.
West Ham United also advanced to the next round thanks to a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Nikica Jelavic scored the winning goal with six minutes left on the clock.
Among the clubs to earn a replay were Wycombe Wanderers, who held Premier League side Aston Villa to a 1-1 draw.
Per Daniel Taylor of the Guardian, Villa manager Remi Garde was more than just upset with his team's performance:
Remi Garde was pretty frank afterwards. "I can understand the fans. This is what we deserve," he said of the crowd's reaction. #AVFC— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) January 9, 2016
Fifth-tier Eastleigh also forced a replay against former Premier League giants Bolton Wanderers, although the hosts led for much of the match and will be left disappointed with the result. Bolton played a dreadful match and only equalised through Darren Pratley in the 88th minute.
Premier League sides Southampton and Newcastle United are already out of the FA Cup, losing to Crystal Palace and Watford, respectively.