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FA Cup | Liverpool exposes Arsenal’s problems in 2-0 win; de Bruyne back in Man City win

Luis Diaz of Liverpool has a headed shot before Jakub Kiwior of Arsenal scores an own goal past teammate Aaron Ramsdale, during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on January 07, 2024 in London, England.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

Arsenal’s increasingly alarming problems in front of goal were further exposed in a 2-0 loss to Liverpool in a heavyweight FA Cup match on Sunday.

An end-to-end third-round contest was settled by two late goals — an own-goal by Arsenal defender Jakub Kiwior in the 80th minute and a stoppage-time strike by Luis Diaz.

Arsenal has now lost four of its last seven matches in all competitions. In three of those defeats, the team has failed to score.

That statistic, plus another injury to first-choice striker Gabriel Jesus, could yet tempt manager Mikel Arteta to go into the transfer market this month. Otherwise, Arsenal risks falling short again this season, just like in the last campaign when the team faded late on and was beaten to the Premier League title by fast-finishing Manchester City.

City looks in prime shape again heading into the second half of the season, with a 5-0 win over second-tier Huddersfield in the FA Cup notable for the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne after nearly five months out.

De Bruyne hasn’t played since sustaining a hamstring injury at Burnley on the opening day of the Premier League season on August 11. The Belgium playmaker came on as a 57th-minute substitute — when City was 2-0 ahead — and provided the cross that fellow replacement Jeremy Doku converted for the final goal in a one-sided match at Etihad Stadium.

City manager Pep Guardiola welcome back a midfielder he described as “exceptional” and ”unique.”

“Kevin helps us to win games and there are few like him in the world,” Guardiola said. “I’m pretty sure Kevin felt how our people are in love with him. This mutual respect will last forever.”

Phil Foden scored twice, Julian Alvarez added another and there was an own-goal for City, which saw defender Manuel Akanji go off injured in the first half.

Erling Haaland was still deemed not fit enough to feature for City, but should be back soon to complement the returning De Bruyne and Doku as Pep Guardiola’s team go for an unlikely repeat of its treble of major trophies won last season.

City is third in the Premier League, five points behind first-place Liverpool with a game in hand, and is through to the round of 16 in the Champions League.

“I know he can handle the pressure,” Guardiola said of De Bruyne, “but I don’t want to put all the pressure on Kevin’s shoulders.”

Wrexham wins

Wrexham made its Hollywood owners happy by winning 1-0 at Shrewsbury, a local rival from a division higher in English soccer’s pyramid, thanks to Tom O’Connor’s second-half goal.

The buzz around Wrexham and its celebrity owners — Rob Reynolds and Rob McElhenney — reached new levels during an FA Cup run around this time last year when the Welsh club beat one second-tier Championship team in Coventry and then took another, Premier League-bound Sheffield United, to a replay.

The team has already got through three rounds this season and will find out on Monday its opponent in the last 32.

Promotion remains the big goal this season for Wrexham, which is in third place in League Two.

Premier League teams West Ham, Nottingham Forest and Luton were all held to draws at home by lower-division opponents.

West Ham failed to hold onto a lead earned by Jarrod Bowen’s early goal and drew 1-1 with second-tier Bristol City. There was more bad news for the Hammers, with Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta forced off injured in the first half.

Forest had to come from two goals down to draw with third-tier Blackpool 2-2 while another third-tier team, Bolton, held Luton 0-0.

Source website: www.thehindu.com

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