Wigan’s Will Grigg shocks Manchester City and ends quadruple dream

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola refused to blame his players after the runaway Premier league leaders, reduced to 10 men at half-time, were knocked out of the FA Cup by third tier Wigan Athletic.

FA Cup Fifth Round - Wigan Athletic vs Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were beaten 1-0 by Wigan Athletic in FA Cup. Photo: Reuters

Monday’s 1-0 fifth round defeat at the DW Stadium, a repeat of the 2012-13 final won by Wigan when the Latics were in the top tier, ended City’s hopes of an unprecedented league and cup quadruple this season.

“Congratulations for Wigan for the qualification,” Guardiola told BBC radio. “We did absolutely everything, we made a mistake and this kind of game is like a final. OK, we accept the defeat,” added the Spaniard.

“Wigan won, congratulations to them and now we rest to prepare for the League Cup final.” City play Arsenal in the final of that competition at Wembley next Sunday.


Manchester City fans start to launch advertising hoardings on to the pitch and in the direction of the police after the final whistle in a dark reminder of the in 1970s. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

The overwhelming favourites against opponents fighting for promotion from League One, City were always wary of Wigan’s proud reputation as a ‘bogey team’ in the world’s oldest and most romantic domestic cup competition.

Apart from beating them the 2013 final, Wigan had also dumped them out at the quarter-final stage of the competition at the Etihad Stadium a season later just as City were heading for the league title under Manuel Pellegrini.


Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook clash after Fabian Delph is sent off. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

City started with their Argentine top scorer Sergio Aguero, and had Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne waiting on the bench but neither were able to make the most of their side’s dominant possession.

In the end, the match turned on the sending off of Fabian Delph on the stroke of half-time with the City midfielder shown a controversial red card for a sliding tackle as team mates crowded around the referee in protest.


Wigan Athletic’s Jay Fulton celebrates with fans on the pitch after the match. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Wigan’s prolific goalscorer Will Grigg then fired in a 79th minute winner.

Despite his obvious anger at the time, Guardiola steered clear of criticism of the official after the final whistle. “Red card. It was the decision,” he said. “They had one shot on target, I don’t have regrets with the way we played, the performance, the heart,” continued the manager. “I judge my players on intentions and not results and the intentions were good.”


Will Grigg celebrates with Ryan Colclough. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

Follow Bloomgist Sports on Twitter and Facebook @BloomgistSports for latest and all-round sports updates with disruptive contents.


HIGHLIGHT: FA Cup clockwatch: Swansea City v Notts County and more – live update!

GOAL! Swansea City 3-0 Notts County (Dyer 30)

GOAL! Swansea City 2-0 Notts County (Dyer 20)

Liverpool dumped out of FA Cup by Jay Rodriguez’s West Brom double

VAR intruded on West Bromwich Albion’s endeavour at Anfield but could not derail their triumph. Alan Pardew’s side produced a clinical away display to shock Liverpool and send Jürgen Klopp’s men out of the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage for a second season running.

Liverpool dumped out of FA Cup by Jay Rodriguez’s West Brom double

Jay Rodriguez wheels away after scoring West Bromwich Albion’s second goal in a famous FA Cup fourth-round victory against Liverpool at Anfield. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It was a night dominated by referee Craig Pawson’s over-use of VAR but also Albion’s outstanding display, particularly in the first half when they stunned Liverpool with three goals. For Klopp, it was a second consecutive worrying defeat that leaves his designs on silverware resting on the Champions League.

Anfield was treated to an absorbing, dramatic Cup tie that flowed relentlessly until VAR slowed it to a farce. Both managers opted for strong lineups, Klopp taking no chances after his over-rotating cost Liverpool in last season’s fourth round against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and both sides brimmed with attacking intent. Three outstanding goals inside the opening 11 minutes were the reward. There would have been a fourth after 20 minutes but for the review system coming to Liverpool’s rescue.

The hosts were on the front foot from the first whistle and made an early breakthrough. It stemmed from a poor mistake in the Albion defence but the execution was a thing of beauty. The coveted Jonny Evans was culpable when he allowed Chris Brunt’s back pass to run through to his goalkeeper, Ben Foster, who had not advanced. Mohamed Salah seized on the error and, though Foster blocked his shot, the rebound fell to Roberto Firmino who clipped a glorious finish over Evans and the stranded keeper and in. The finish oozed the class of the Brazilian’s recent goal here against Manchester City.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, their midfield and defence failed to equal the quality of their front three. Yet again. Albion’s central midfield pairing of Grzegorz Krychowiak and Gareth Barry, still superior to any of the midfielders he left behind at Everton, dominated their counterparts and Jay Rodriguez reaped the benefits.

The visitors were level just over a minute later when Barry dispossessed Georginio Wijnaldum and Brunt threaded a first-time pass into the Albion forward. Rodriguez ghosted away from Emre Can and Virgil van Dijk before sending an unstoppable shot into Simon Mignolet’s top corner. The power and precision of the drive would have found favour with the late Cyrille Regis, who had been given a rousing ovation by both sets of supporters.

Albion then edged ahead thanks to a superb flowing attack orchestrated by Krychowiak, who beat Can easily and released Kieran Gibbs down the left. The full-back’s low centre dissected the Liverpool defence and Rodriguez was there again to convert from close range as the recalled Alberto Moreno dawdled.

Pardew’s players thought they had made it three when Craig Dawson towered over Firmino to head in Brunt’s corner from close range. Referee Pawson called for VAR, however, and after a lengthy delay the goal was disallowed due to a marginal offside against Barry. VAR penalised Albion a second time moments later when Salah went down under a pull from Jake Livermore inside the area. Pawson missed the incident but appeared to be alerted to a possible foul by Salah. After another VAR call, this time lasting three minutes and 53 seconds and involving the referee looking at the monitor himself, a penalty was awarded, to the fury of the visitors. Firmino stepped up but only succeeded in placing his spot-kick against the crossbar.

The miss appeared a rare reprieve for Albion who then lost Gibbs and Hal Robson-Kanu to injury, hamstring and knee respectively, within the space of two minutes. Remarkably, however, they did add a third before the interval and this time even VAR could not deny them. It was another weak and simple goal for Liverpool to concede as Krychowiak broke their offside trap with a hooked ball over the top to Dawson. The defender was left in acres of space on the right and his shot sailed beyond Mignolet and into the far corner via a final touch off Joël Matip. Once again Pawson wanted to review the incident. After a chat with assistant Andre Marriner the goal was given and Liverpool were in serious trouble.


Liverpool were awarded a penalty after consultation with the VAR, but Roberto Firmino hit the crossbar from the spot. Photo: Adam Fradgley – AMA/WBA via Getty Images

VAR helped Pawson call every major decision correctly but its over-use was underlined when he called for a review of an Evans’ header that beat Mignolet from close range. At least five Albion players including Evans were offside when Krychowiak’s shot bounced into the Liverpool area and Pawson’s assistant signalled as much. But more time was wasted with an unnecessary review.

Liverpool’s second-half response was ineffective. Too many players were below-par, from Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold in defence to Can and Wijnaldum in midfield, and Klopp made his feelings clear with a triple substitution after 65 minutes. The decision to withdraw Sadio Mané for a central midfielder, the fit-again Jordan Henderson, did not go down well on the Kop. The changes instigated much-needed improvement.

Substitutes James Milner and Danny Ings were both denied by good saves from Foster before Salah brought hope to Anfield when he converted from close range after Alexander-Arnold’s cross deflected into his path.

SOURCE: BBC Sports/The Guardian UK/Sky Sports

Arsenal through to FA Cup Finals against Chelsea after Beating Manchester City

Alexis Sanchez’s scrambled extra-time winner secured Arsenal an FA Cup final date with Chelsea – and ensured Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will end a season without a trophy for the first time in his coaching career.

Arsenal through to FA Cup Finals with Chelsea after Beating Manchester City

Arsenal Beat Manchester City to Reach FA Cup Finals against Chelsea

Sanchez settled a contentious semi-final 11 minutes into the extra period after Manchester City failed to clear Mesut Ozil’s free-kick.

Arsenal showed great resilience to come from behind – and eased the pressure on manager Arsene Wenger – after Sergio Aguero raced clear of Nacho Monreal to put City ahead in the 62nd minute.

Monreal made amends with the equaliser 11 minutes later as he drilled in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross at the far post – but City were left nursing a serious sense of injustice after this disappointing defeat.

They had a goal wrongly ruled out in the first half when Leroy Sane’s cross was adjudged to have gone out before Aguero and Raheem Sterling combined to turn it into the net, while Yaya Toure and Fernandinho hit the woodwork after the break.

It left Arsenal victorious and Wenger aiming for a record seventh FA Cup triumph.

Wenger gets his statement of intent

Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Players

Wenger’s future – and the lack of clarity surrounding it – has only been brought into sharper focus by Arsenal’s recent fall outside the Champions League places.

The manager needed a statement, as did his team, to ease the growing disquiet among Arsenal fans at the prospect that he will extend his stay as manager.

Arsenal’s Wembley win against Manchester City will not ease the concerns in the minds of the doubters but he can point to the victory, and the manner in which it was achieved, as evidence that he could yet be the man to take the club forward.

Victory in the final on 27 May would strengthen his and Arsenal’s case for continuity, but for now there was much for the Frenchman and his players to treasure about this triumph.

Wenger persisted with an unfamiliar three-man defensive system comprising youngster Rob Holding, Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny and set up his team to deliver an uncharacteristically stubborn performance.

Arsenal rode their luck at times – but Wenger will take that all day.


Alexis Sanchez has scored four goals in his last three appearances at Wembley for Arsenal

Wenger’s players have been accused of not playing for him in recent months. No such accusation could be levelled here as they dug deep for victory.

The Gunners’ embattled manager pumped his fists towards the skies at the final whistle and beamed with delight – he may yet achieve glory amid the worst discontent of his reign.

Were Manchester City robbed?

Manchester City will argue long and hard that their chances of reaching the final were sabotaged by a first-half decision that saw a good goal ruled out.

Referee’s assistant Steve Child judged that Sane’s cross had gone behind before Aguero turned it back at the far post and then Sterling made sure. Replays suggested the ball had not gone out and City were the victims of an injustice.

City will also feel Lady Luck deserted them as they lost playmaker David Silva to injury early on and saw those efforts from Toure and Fernandinho hit the woodwork.

In the final reckoning, they must also accept the brutal truth that once more they enjoyed superiority in possession and territory but could not find the ruthless touch.

Guardiola faces a big challenge

Arsenal through to FA Cup Finals with Chelsea after Beating Manchester City

Pep Guardiola won 14 trophies in four seasons at Barcelona, and seven in three years at Bayern Munich

Guardiola, arguably football’s most celebrated coach, was brought to Manchester City to lift them to another level – and on that basis his first season without a trophy in a glittering managerial career will be regarded by many as a failure.

He has found it more difficult than he may have imagined after the seamless successes of his years in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Stick or twist?
Manchester City named an unchanged line-up under Pep Guardiola for the first time, in what was his 50th game in charge.
The three players who have started the most often are David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne – 38 times each.
Another three players have started just once for Guardiola – Joe Hart, Tosin Adarabioyo and Angelino.

He must now address the problems that have undermined City this season, particularly uncertainty over the goalkeeper position, where his decision to replace Joe Hart with Claudio Bravo has been unsuccessful, and also sort out an uncertain and ageing defence.

Guardiola’s main priority now is securing a top-four place and getting into the Champions League, starting with Thursday’s derby against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium.

Failure to achieve that objective is unthinkable.

Man of the match – Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain (Arsenal)

Perfect 20 for Arsenal – the key match stats

  • Arsenal have reached their 20th FA Cup final, a competition record.
  • This was Manchester City’s first FA Cup semi-final defeat since 1932, also against Arsenal – the Citizens had won eight consecutively before this defeat.
  • Alexis Sanchez is Arsenal’s top scorer in games at Wembley, with four goals – he overtook Marc Overmars and Ian Wright on three.
  • Sanchez has now been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions this season (38, 24 goals and 14 assists).
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 12 goals in his past 12 matches for Manchester City in all competitions.
  • It was Aguero’s second goal at Wembley, having netted for City against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final in April 2013.
  • Nacho Monreal’s last two goals for Arsenal have come in the FA Cup, both against Manchester clubs (having scored against Manchester United in March 2015).
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has six assists in his past 10 FA Cup starts for Arsenal. In all competitions this season, only Mesut Ozil (10) and Alexis Sanchez (14) have more assists than Oxlade-Chamberlain (nine).

What’s next?

Manchester City return to Premier League action with a home derby against neighbours United on Thursday. Arsenal are at home to Leicester in the league on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford to lead United at Wembley as van Gaal chases win to save job

Louis van Gaal looked relaxed as he put his side through their paces in training — ahead of what could be his last game as Manchester United boss. Continue reading