Aston Villa dumped out of FA Cup by 3rd-tier club
10-man Man City held by Blackburn
Aston Villa was dumped out of the FA Cup by third-tier side Sheffield United in the biggest shock of the third round on Saturday, while 10-man Manchester City was held by Blackburn.
Villa's humbling came days after manager Paul Lambert branded the cup as a "distraction," but rather than making wholesale changes, it was still a strong side that lost 2-1.
"It is just a bit sad that the FA Cup, such a wonderful competition, takes a back seat but that is the reality of it," Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough said.
Backing down from the earlier comment, Lambert tried to insist he wasn't decrying the world's oldest football cup competition that has lost some of its lustre as Premier League riches have soared.
"I never demeaned the competition one bit," Lambert said. "I respect its history and I respect what the competition is about."
Blackburn earned a replay against City after goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon fumbled Rudy Gestede's header before Scott Dann rushed in to sweep the ball into the net to cancel out Alvaro Negredo's opener.
City was left hanging on to the 1-1 draw after Dedryck Boyata was sent off in the 85th minute when a foul on D.J. Campbell earned him a second yellow card.
"I'm not disappointed," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "Of course, everyone wants to win all of the games but we were playing against a very strong team at home."
Due to the replay, Abu Dhabi-owned City has cancelled a friendly in the Gulf nation on Jan. 14.
The standout pairing of the third round was a one-sided contest as Arsenal overpowered north London rival Tottenham with the 2-0 victory secured by Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.
Southampton squeezed into the fourth round by beating Burley 4-3, Everton breezed through with Nikica Jelavic scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Queens Park Rangers, but holder Wigan, which was relegated from the Premier League after winning the cup in May, was held to 3-3 by M.K. Dons.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign as Cardiff manager began with a 2-1 win at Newcastle. After Papiss Cisse put the Magpies in front at St. James' Park, substitutes Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell hit back with goals for the south Wales club.
In other all-Premier League clashes, Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh gave Crystal Palace a 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion, and Norwich drew 1-1 with Fulham.
In surprising results involving lower-league sides, Leeds of the second-tier League Championship lost 2-0 at fourth-tier side Rochdale, and non-league club Macclesfield — the lowest ranking team still in the cup — earned a replay at Championship club Sheffield Wednesday by drawing 1-1.