Aston Villa has been dumped out of the FA Cup by third-tier side Sheffield United in the biggest shock of the third round, while 10-man Manchester City was held by Blackburn.
Villa’s humbling on Saturday came days after manager Paul Lambert called the cup a distraction, but rather than making wholesale changes, it was still a strong side that lost 2-1.
Meanwhile, Manchester City were reduced to 10 men as they survived a torrid examination of their class by lower league Blackburn Rovers in a feisty 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round.
City, unexpectedly beaten by Wigan Athletic in last season’s FA Cup final, went ahead with a 45th minute goal by Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, but Championship side Blackburn levelled 10 minutes later through a similar close-range effort by Scott Dann.
Manuel Pellegrini’s much-changed team had further chances to score but also rode their luck and needed to bring on Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure for Brazilian Fernandinho to retain control.
Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata was dismissed in the 85th minute following two yellow card offences.
Blackburn pushed hard for a winner in the closing minutes, but City replaced Spanish winger David Silva with Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta and hung on for a replay back at the Etihad Stadium.
Arsenal outgun Spurs
“We knew we’d played quite well in the first half,” said Blackburn‘s scorer Dann.
“The goal knocked the stuffing out of us, but we knew if we carried on we would hopefully get something from game – and we did.”
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer, whose father Ian was an FA Cup winner with City in 1969, beamed with pride following his team’s spirited display.
“We had a chance and we did very well. I am very proud of my players for their efforts,” he said.
His City counterpart Pellegrini praised the intensity of Blackburn‘s football.
“It was a difficult game for us,” he said.
“They played with a great intensity in front of their own fans. We wanted to win, but it is important that we did not lose this game.”
In the late game, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky spurred English Premier league leaders Arsenal to a 2-0 win over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium.
Elsewhere in the FA Cup, New Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solsjaers won his first game in charge as his side beat Newcastle 2-1 away.
Southampton squeezed into the fourth round by beating Burley 4-3, while holder Wigan, which was relegated from the Premier League after winning the cup in May, was held to 3-3 by MK Dons. Crystal Palace won 2-0 at West Bromwich Albion.