LONDON, Jan 9, (AFP): Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud scored as Arsenal started their FA Cup defence by coming from behind to defeat Sunderland 3-1 in the third round on Saturday.
Menwhile, Wayne Rooney’s stoppage-time penalty spared Manchester United from an embarrassing goalless draw as they edged third-tier Sheffield United 1-0.
Arsenal were joined in round four by Premier League title rivals Manchester City, who won 3-0 at Norwich City, but Southampton and Newcastle United were both eliminated and West Bromwich Albion survived a huge scare.
Sunderland took a 17th-minute lead at the Emirates Stadium through Jeremain Lens, but Joel Campbell equalised eight minutes later before second-half goals by Ramsey and Giroud gave Arsene Wenger’s men victory.
Premier League leaders Arsenal are seeking to become the first team to win three FA Cups in a row since Blackburn Rovers between 1884 and 1886.
A side showing five changes fell behind when Lens picked Laurent Koscielny’s pocket and fired home, but minutes later The Walcott teed up Campbell to tuck away the equaliser.
Substitute Ramsey made it 2-1 in the 72nd minute after a one-two with Hector Bellerin and Bellerin then teed up Giroud for Arsenal’s third goal four minutes later.
Manchester City strolled through at Carrow Road, where Sergio Aguero put the visitors ahead in the 16th minute with a driving run and emphatic shot.
Aguero set up 19-year-old strike partner Kelechi Iheanacho for City’s second goal on the half-hour and substitute Kevin De Bruyne wrapped up victory 12 minutes from time.
Southampton and Newcastle both fell at the first hurdle, but could at least console themselves that they were beaten by fellow Premier League teams.
Wilfried Zaha’s 68th-minute goal gave Crystal Palace a 2-1 win at Southampton, while Troy Deeney punished a loose back-pass from Georginio Wijnaldum to give Watford a 1-0 home victory over Newcastle.
West Brom manager Tony Pulis had James Morrison to thank for an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time that prevented his side from losing at home to second-tier Bristol City.
After substitute Saido Berahino gave West Brom a 67th-minute lead, goals from Jonathan Kodjia and Kieran Agard put Bristol City in charge, only for Morrison to secure a 2-2 draw at the death.
Aston Villa’s wretched season continued as they were taken to a replay by fourth-tier minnows Wycombe Wanderers following a 1-1 draw at Adams Park — their 16th successive game without victory. Eleven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Premier League table, Villa took a 22nd-minute lead through Micah Richards, only for Joe Jacobsen to equalise with a penalty early in the second half.
Villa captain Richards went over to speak to frustrated Villa fans at the final whistle and manager Remi Garde said: “It was brave of him to do that.
“As professionals, we have to face our responsibilities — not only Micah, me and all the players.”
Bolton Wanderers, bottom of the Championship and at risk of bankruptcy, narrowly escaped succumbing to the day’s biggest shock as Darren Pratley’s scrappy 87th-minute goal earned them a 1-1 draw at fifth-tier Eastleigh.
The lowest-ranked team left in the tournament, Eastleigh had gone ahead in the 51st minute via an own goal by Bolton’s French defender Dorian Dervite.
Liverpool were taken to a replay by fourth-tier Exeter City on Friday, Brad Smith’s 73rd-minute equaliser sparing Jurgen Klopp’s youthful side from an ignominious exit.