The Third Round of the FA Cup is when the big boys become involved, which gives the chance of a few upsets. Here are some things we learned during this round.
End of an era for Cesc Fabregas
Chelsea begun their FA Cup title defence by beating Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in a match that looks to have been the last for their captain for the day Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard missed a first half penalty but in the end it did not matter, as Alvaro Morata’s brace made the difference. The 31-year-old has a combined total of 501 appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League and is reportedly on his way to join Thierry Henry in Monaco. The Chelsea faithful had hoped that an agreement would be struck with the player regarding his contract situation but from the look of things the club might be headed to the transfer market in search of his replacement. He will surely be missed for his technical ability.
Giant killers alive in the FA Cup
The FA Cup is one of the tournaments with a rich heritage and as such it has seen giant slaying teams try their luck on every occasion. The just concluded weekend witnessed some big shots eliminated by lowly ranked sides for the next round of fixtures. Newport knocked Leeds out of the competition last season but they extended their giant slaying exploits to Premier League club Leicester in their 2-1 win at home. Cardiff fell by the hands of League One strugglers Gillingham, whilst Oldham stunned Fulham at Craven Cottage. Finally to complete our list is Huddersfield who were knocked out by Bristol City.
Kevin De Bryune key to City’s season
The FA Cup provided a unique opportunity for Pep Guardiola to give Kevin De Bryune some minutes of action following his recovery from injury. The Belgian did not take long to show why he is such a valuable member of the squad as he made the assist that allowed Raheem Sterling the opportunity to open the scoring. The midfielder was central to most of City’s attacking play on an easy afternoon and he will be looking forward to the second part of the season where he will play a key part in City’s campaign.
Manchester United are a work in progress
Manchester United were 2-0 winners against Reading but they never looked entertaining for large parts of the game. Understandably most of the players on the pitch are those that have not had a lot of playing time this season. However, not many used the opportunity to show the manager that they are ready to be called upon should the need arise. They will surely need to improve in the coming days otherwise they might not have the ability to compete with the rest of the top six as the season progresses.
VAR in use
The video assistant referee (VAR) was in use in nine of this weekend’s ties and we are likely to see more of this in the coming days in the Premier League. The use of this technology came into play on several occasions to avoid controversial decisions. This was the case when Burnley were denied a penalty in their home win against Barnsley. The same was also used in Manchester United’s victory over Reading when Juan Mata’s 20th-minute goal was ruled out, for offside and shortly afterward to award a penalty. Other games that saw the technology’s intervention included Crystal Palace at home versus Grimsby and in the Fulham versus Oldham’s fixture.