Most of the English Premier League’s ‘big guns’ fired in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday, with Chelsea and Tottenham winning relatively comfortably but Liverpool were held to an embarrassing draw against fourth-tier side Plymouth Argyle.
While Manchester City had thrashed West Ham on Friday, Manchester United eased past Reading on Saturday even as Arsenal had to work for a 2-1 win over Preston North End as the major sides avoided embarrassing upsets.
Liverpool trotted out in a second-string side, with their line-up having an average age of just 21 years and 296 days and perhaps their relative inexperience showed as their opponents from League Two dug deep and defended resolutely.
At half-time, the Reds had 80% possession, an indicator of the one-way traffic but with Plymouth defending very deep indeed, Divock Orig and co were unable to find the breakthrough.
Jurgen Klopp threw on Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and even Daniel Sturridge, but the in-form trio could not force a result as Liverpool will have to play a tricky replay at Home Park on the January 18.
Chelsea had it easy for the most part against Peterborough United, leading 2-0 at half-time before a red card for John Terry and a admirable effort from the League One side momentarily made the 40,000 strong Stamford Bridge crowd sweat.
Willian had scored early in the second period to supplement Pedro and Michy Batshuayi’s first-half strikes but Terry’s 67th minute dismissal coupled with a Tom Nichols strike in the 70th minute for the visitors sparked fears of a comeback.
The in-form Pedro then grabbed his second and his side’s fourth in the 75th minute to put the result beyond doubt and ensure the Blues progression into the fourth-round with a 4-1 scoreline.
Tottenham Hotspur beat Aston Villa 2-0 but the scoreline was misleading as the teams were deadlocked till the 71st minute, when full-back Ben Davies headed past Sam Johnstone.
Sours manager Mauricio Pochettino had rested most of his top-stars, but crucially stuck with his 3-4-3 formation which broke Chelsea’s winning run in superb fashion in mid-week and his team left it late to finish off the game.
Korean winger Son Heung-min scored the killer goal in the 80th minute after some good work from Moussa Sissoko on the wing to confirm Spurs’ participation in the fourth-round.