Arsenal advance but Sunderland held

Arsenal came from two goals behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the FA Cup to advance to the 5th round where they will play either Sunderland or Middlesbrough after the North East rivals drew 1-1 at the Stadium of Light.

With both Manchester clubs out of the FA Cup already, it’s a great chance for one of the clubs desperately chasing silverware to taste success. One of those sides are Arsenal but it seemed as if they would be heading for the exit door as they went into the dressing room two goals down to a rampant Villa side. It all changed after the break though as Wenger’s men swung the tie in their favour to advance.

Robbie Keane started for the visitors and it was he who created the opener for Irish team mate Richard Dunne to head home at the back post. Arsenal huffed and puffed but apart from a few long range efforts, Shay Given was hardly tested but things get better for McLeish’s side as Darren Bent firstly was denied by Fabianski in the Gunners net but the striker brilliantly converted the rebound from a tight angle.

For the second week in a row, Arsenal were booed off the pitch at the interval but the mood changed considerably after the break. Richard Dunne clumsily brought down Ramsey in the box before van Perise converted the spot kick. Moments later Theo Walcott’s mazy run ended with the ball rebounding off the winger’s head from close range into the empty net. The comeback was complete when Bent turned villain after he brought Laurent Koscienly down just inside the area. Once again RVP coolly slotted past Given.

The Gunners will have to wait to find out who they will play in the next round. They do know they will be travelling to the North East after they drew either Sunderland or Championship high flyers Middlesbrough. The pair met earlier in the day at the Stadium of Light and despite the Martin O’Neill revolution, the Black Cats were held by a well-structured ‘Boro.

Tony Mowbray’s men took a shock lead when former Celtic midfielder Barry Robson superbly volleyed in John O’Shea’s defensive header. The home side were struggling to find a way through the youthful ‘Boro backline but when Craig Gardner did find the net, the officials ruled it out for offside. It in fact wasn’t offside but Gardner did use his hand to control the ball in the build up, so the goal was correctly disallowed but for the wrong reason.

James McClean once again was a threat on the left and it was he who provided the returning Frazier Campbell. The former Man United man has been out for over a year with a knee injury and capitalising on Robson’s weak back pass, McClean squared for Campbell to slot home.

Neither side had too many chances to win it in the remaining half an hour but the former Derry man McClean nearly scored his first home goal but his late effort hit the side netting.


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