A flawless performance from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earned Arsenal a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals after a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at the Emirates.
Liverpool were buoyed by their 5-1 victory last weekend and were unlucky not to be 1-0 up after two minutes; Steven Gerrard’s through ball found the in-form Daniel Sturridge, but goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was equal to his effort.
The England striker went close again soon after, dancing into the box and losing his marker, Per Mertesacker, before firing into the side netting.
Ten-time FA Cup winners Arsenal took the lead after 16 minutes; Yaya Sanogo’s volley was blocked by Gerrard and fell kindly to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who slotted in the opener; his third of the season.
Liverpool struggled to beat left-back Nacho Monreal on a number of occasions and Arsenal looked dangerous throughout with several counter-attacks from the Spaniard’s clearances.
Fabianski was rarely troubled in the first half, but Luis Suarez – without a goal in three matches – tested the Pole’s ability with a dipping half-volley towards the end of the first half.
Lukas Podolski doubled the home side’s lead shortly after the break; Oxlade-Chamberlain making light work of Daniel Agger before his inch-perfect cross found the German forward who turned it home.
The game was blown wide open after the goal and Suarez missed a host of opportunities; forcing a great save from Fabianski and hitting a sumptuous volley just over the bar.
Just past the hour mark, the visitors earned themselves a penalty after Podolski brought down Suarez, despite replays suggesting minimal contact was made.
England captain Steven Gerrard ensured that Arsenal didn’t keep a clean sheet as he sent Fabianski the wrong way and converted the spot-kick.
Gerrard was lucky to stay on the field after a cynical challenge on Oxlade-Chamberlain, which should have earned the Liverpool stalwart a second yellow card.
Fabianski capped a vintage display by keeping Arsenal in the game with 20 minutes to go; knocking the ball out from under Sturridge’s feet when he was one-on-one.
Liverpool were denied a clear penalty by referee Howard Webb after Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped his leg around Suarez and brought him down – the Uruguayan’s theatrics not helping his cause.
Agger went close late on, getting on the end of Gerrard’s free kick with Fabianski miles from his goal line.
The game fizzled out in the dying minutes and Arsenal held on for the win; the Gunners’ will now face Everton at home on March 8.
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