Chelsea lead over Leicester.
Chelsea lead over Leicester. Image Credit: AP

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard Image Credit: Reuters

Exhausting day, so signing off. Trying to do this when my daughters Alex and Chole think Moana is more important than Manchester...  Still: plenty on offer at GN as Manchester City prepare to take on Newcastle.

Gulf News shall be covering one key match every weekend, so stay tuned (or clicked, or whatever). See ya!

So, three teams are in the hat - Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. How will join them? Manchester City take on Newcastle United, and few with fancy the home side, given City's form.


Writing on the wall for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester as another chance goes begging. Looks like we know three of our four. They will turn their attentions back to securing third place in the Prem, while Chelsea go into the hat for the fianl four.

Knock and knock from Leicester, with minutes left. Top scorer Jamie Vardy sends and effort wide before the action breaks up to the other end and Kasper Schmeichel has to look alert to block Ross Barkley from making it 2-0.

Five mins to go and the Leicester heads are going down as another chance goes begging.

Should Chelsea win from here, it could be argued that the better team has lost in each of the three quarter-finals so far. Norwich outplayed Manchester United for long periods, Sheffield undid themselves aganst Arsenal, and Leicester are losing out against an inferior Chelsea... Goals win games, I guess.

I do not think Leicester are done and they are throwing everything at Chelsea now. They have 15 minutes to find a goal, otherwise - bye-bye!

GOAL: Leicester 0 Chelsea 1

It is the weekend of the away teams! Ross Barkley steals in to get on the end of the finest of crosses from Jonny Evans, and the tortoise leads the hare! Bodes well for Manchester City against Newcastle!


Sadly Abraham's effort is ruled out and it is as we were. I guaranteed a goalfest and it now looks like one might win it. 

As I say that, the game sparks into life! Christian Pulisic feeds Tammy Abraham and Kasper Schmeichel blocks before we are in the back of the net! 

Back at the KP bonanza, there is no bonanza as the geme has gone all quiet in the midfield. Leicester survive a wee lapse indefence to clear from Matteo Kovacic. Subs are coming...

While the FA Cup takes centre stage, let's not forget about the Premier League. Danny Ings has Southampton leading against relegation-threatened Watford. That one will go down to the final day...

Mr Opta tells me Leicester are leading in every section, including shots, on-targets, off-targets, corners. pretty much everything except possession. Oh, and goals. I did promise them, and if they don't come, at least you have penalties to look forward to... 

Half-time: Leicester 0 Chelsea 0

Vardy goes close for Leicester.
Vardy goes close for Leicester. Image Credit: AP

Oof! We nearly have the opener as Jimmy Vardy finds spade on the left, but his viscious shot is just wide of busy Willy's post. Wilfred Ndidi has been pulling all the strings in midfield but we remain goalless at the break. Something tells me Lampard will be changing that gameplan.

One thing I have noticed is the nonsense 'water-break' has changed the momentun in games. Leicester are the latest victims as Chelsea almost grab an opener. But they are unperturbed (fancy word alert) and rock on with the onslaught. If this is a marathon, Leicester are doing well to totally dominate the opening 45 minutes. Chelsea need to do some work here.  

What a stop from Kaspar Schmeichel. Billy Gilmourplays in Christian Pulisic, and he really should do better but the shot is beaten away.

Things are evening out now, as Lampard's tortoise-and-the-hare plan looks like it might be a beauty. But once again, Chelsea have to rely on keeper Willy Caballero as Youri Tielemans carves open the defence and fires ina shot from the edge of the area. This is an edgy gamble, if it is Lampard's plan. 

Chelsea finally get on the ball and they show why they may be the big threat to Liverpool and Manchester City next season as they ping the ball around with aplomb.

Chelsea looked so impressive in their 2-1 win over departing Premier League champions Manchester City during the week and they will continue to impress their plan on Leicester as this game goes on. 

It's like Usain Bolt v Paula Radcliffe at the moment as Leiceter continue to pepper the Chelsea area with probing attacks and the visitors look miles behind every ball. Ominous? Or is it planned from Lampard to soak em up and tire em out? Brave if it is as Leicester have the Premier League's top scorer Jamie Vardy in their ranks.

Leicester 0 Chelsea 0

Gimme a chance! My word. Leicester have had four chances inside the opening four minutes as the Chelsea back four are cleary still power-napping. This will be a belter once Chelsea get into gear.

Away we go! Brendan Rodgers has never beaten Chelsea as a manager at either Liverpool or Leicester (don't think Celtic ever got far enough in Europe to meet the Londoners) but he will have a clear plan to remedy that today as Leicester come flying out of the blocks.  

A lot has been made about teams not giving a hoot about the FA Cup these days, given it does not attract the riches of the Premier League, but when you look at the strength of the teams out there today (and the Sheffield tears earlier), you can tell this trophy is still as majestic as it always was. 

Leicester warm up ahead of Chelsea clash.
Leicester warm up ahead of Chelsea clash. Image Credit: AP

This has all the makings of a FA Cup classic: third v fourth in the league, two teams with potential to break the Liverpool-City silveerware stranglehold, atrractive and attacking sides. I mean, what's not to like? 

Enough about that match, that is sooooo 37 minutes ago. On to sponsorship venues and King Power Stadium. The teams are in as Brendan Rodgers' Leicester line up against a very-tidy-looking Chelsea under young managerial pup Frank Lampard.

Leicester City XI: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Praet, Tielemans, Ndidi, Perez, Vardy, Barnes. Subs: Ward, Morgan, Bennett, Fuchs, Choudhury, Mendy, Gray, Albrighton, Iheanacho

Chelsea XI: Caballero, James, Rudiger, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Gilmour, Willian, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham. Subs: Kepa, Alonso, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Pedro, Giroud

Arteta is a happy man!

"I am really pleased," the Arsenal boss told BBC. "This is a difficult place to come and get a win. We are back at Wembley. I am really happy with the attitude and performance of the players. It is a great opportunity to try and win a title and play in Europe. We have played four away games since the restart. Thank you to the Premier League for our calendar playing every three days. But we go again on Wednesday. I knew Sheffield United were going to have moments. They are so good at their game plans and putting teams under pressure. We conceded form a long throw which is so hard to defend. But we were able to win the game."

Over in Spain, Levante have beaten Real Betis 4-2, with Real Madrid playing later, planning on opening up a two-point gap over Barcelona when they take on Espanyol at midnight. 

Sheffield United's Oliver McBurnie, right, reacts after the FA Cup sixth round soccer match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, Sunday, June 28, 2020. (Oli Scarff/Pool via AP)

So we shall leave Sheffield to wonder what might have been... Two down and two to go as we now know that Manchester and Arsenal are in the semis. Chelsea and Leicester stake their claim next. We have 45 mins before the country's third and fourth best teams face off. A few goals in that one, I reckon.

FULL TIME: Sheffield 1 Arsenal 2

A sad way to depart. Just when Sheffield thought they had finally forced extra time with an equaliser, a cavalier attitute left them short at the back and Dani Ceballos grabbed the win for Arsenal.

GOAL! Sheffield 1 Arsenal 2

Robbery in the Sheffield daylight as the home side are caught short at the back as they pushed for a winner. This will hurt big time as Billy Sharp sees Martinez block his goalbound shot and Arsenal break. Dani Ceballos looks like being the unlikely hero as he beats Henderson from a tight angle in added time. The cruel, cruel magic of the FA Cup right there! 

Oh dear!

GOAL! Sheffield 1 Arsenal 1

The set-piece frailties undo Arsenal once again as three defenders go to the David Luiz playbook and allow David McGoldrick to steal in and nab a massive lifeline for the Blades. Sead Kolasinac's dreadful clearance hits Rob Holding and McGoldrick levels.

Only 10 minutes for Sheffield to find an equaliser and force extra-time or Arsenal will be joining Manchester United in the draw for the semi-finals later on this evening. Who else will make it? Chelsea are up next against Leicester in what will be a ding-dong battle I am sure, before Manchester City take on Newcastle. 

These guys will be glad of the five subs rule as this is a bit of a battle out there. Kieron Freeman replaces the knackerd-looking George Baldock for the home side and Arteta rings the changes with Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah on for Joe Willock and Alexandre Lacazette. I wonder if maybe-want-away star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will get a run out? Probably not right now as Arteta is probably more focused on riding out this storm of Sheffield attacks. 

Tut! Drinks break time. Whyyyyyyyy? It's cooler than a Dubai winter over there. That could ruin Sheffield's momentum and it will definitely allow Arsenal a breather as Arteta gets a chance to dish out some tactical advice to his boys.

How are they not level?  Arsenal go into panic mode once again as Sheffield attack but Chris Basham heads inches wide of the post. You heard/jinxed it here first, folks. The home side are gonna grab a leveller soon.

VAR - NO GOAL: Sheffield 0 Arsenal 1

All Sheffield as we reach 30 mins to go. The linesman is first to react with his flag after the home side think they have levelled.  The ball is in the Gunners net once again and once again VAR says no. John Egan's effort is a no-no as David McGoldrick was ruled offside earlier in the move. Check your runs, boys! 

Holy guacamole! Sheffield keeper Dean Henderson goes into 'Hoof it!' mode and nearly scores as the wind carries the ball all the way to the Arsenal area before the bounce almost catches Emiliano Martinez out but it goes just over the bar and out of danger.

Sander Berge in action with Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac
Sander Berge in action with Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac Image Credit: Reuters

10 minutes isn't long enough for Chris Wilder's half-time pep talk, clearly, as he continues to holler at his Sheffield players from the touchline. What ever he said seems to be working as the home side are certainly giving their all once again, just like in the opening spells of the first half. Could be an early end to David Luiz's day as he looks to have pulled something in his leg and will be replaced by Rob Holding, whose hairline makes him look about 45 rather than 24.  

Right, Sheffield what have you got? We are under way in the second half and they need to find a goal from somewhere or they could be looking at their tremendous first season back in the top flight fizzling out with a whimper as they have failed to fire since the resumption after the coronavirus stoppage. 

The only other live match across the major European leagues right now is in La Liga as Levante lead Real Betis 2-0 at the break. The big news in Spain's top league is Barcelona's latest slip-up against Celta Vigo, to put Real Madrid thoroughly in charge of the title race.  

Arguably the best player for Sheffield is the Tannoy fan-noise sound man as he is bang on with the reactions, boos and cheers. Even the odd chant. Well played, Mr. Tannoy fan-noise sound man...

Half-time: Sheffield 0 Arsenal 1

So Arteta's boys weather the early storm and get a VAR helping hand, before Pepe puts them in command from the spot. A few players will be getting the once over from the physios on both teams after a fairly physical 45 (plus 7!) minutes. Arsenal even survived a David Luiz moment just before the break and kept the sheet clean!

Arsenal certainly finishing the first half the stronger side as Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and then Kieran Tierny all go close but fail to trouble Henderson's goal.

Arsenal's Pepe celebrates the opener against Sheffield
Arsenal's Pepe celebrates the opener against Sheffield Image Credit: AFP

It's got a bit ouchy now as first Sheffield's John Lundstram - he of the not-goal earlier - looks like he will be spending a few weeks on the sidelines with a nasty shoulder injury as he lands awkwardly. Then we have a look-away-now moment as the Blades' Oli McBurnie forgets to look up and smashes his face right into that of Arsenal's Joe Willock. Ouch! After a short stoppage, both players are able to continue. Tough as old boots these players. A refreshing change from all that flouncing and diving we see too much of. 

Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge is on and Lundstr

Mikel Arteta's boys have their tails up now. After a Sheffield free-kick comes to nothing, the Gunners break and Alexandre Lacazette unleashes a missile, which England-touted Henderson does well to beat away with two big, hefty paws. 

GOAL - Sheffield 0 Arsenal 1

it's all happening now! Nicolas Pepe comfortably beats on-loan Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson, who chooses the right way but reacts too slowly. How will Sheffield react?


Penalty given by Tierney as Lacazette is tumbled just inside the area.

Sheffield celebrations were short-lived
Sheffield celebrations were short-lived Image Credit: AFP

Arsenal are certainly living dangerously as the home side push forward at every chance. Martínez in the Arsenal goal is relieved to see a shot whizz just past his left-hand post. 

VAR - NO GOAL: Sheffield 0 Arsenal 0

How Arsenal fans must yearn for the good old days when they knew how to defend. The game is only minutes old when Sheffield think they have the lead from an inswinging corner. Luckily, not-goalscorer Lundstram was in an offside postition and the computer boffins inform referee Paul Tierney to chop it off, like an unwanted limb.

The stadiums across England and Europe are still devoid of fans but things are certainly feeling as normal as possible once more in the bars and cafes around Dubai, with the footy fanatics once again getting into a routine so they can follow their favourites.

The banter and the why-do-we-do-that? shouting at the telly has returned, along with the nail-biting and, I am pretty sure a relegation-induced tear or two will be forthcoming in the near future.

"I guess it is the 'new normal' given all the safety protocols we have in place for the forseeable future," says Craig Leader, manager of the Crown & Lion in Byblos Barsha Heights. "Thankfully, the fans' passion for the game means they are very cooperative with the thermal checks and social distancing as it means they can still get to watch their boys win or lose. "

We are up and running at Bramall Lane, with the FA Cup being the only chance left of getting some silverware for either side. Arsenal are still pushing for a Champions League spot, but Sheffield's slim hopes are dwindling.

Read Ben East's intriguing take on the FA Cup here.

Sheffield United warm up
Sheffield United warm up Image Credit: AFP

Sheffield United were thumped by Manchester United in their last outing, while Arsenal got their first post-COVID-break win under their belts with a 2-0 win over Southampton. One boost for Sheffield is the return of Arsenal's calamity personified, David Luiz, to the squad after suspension (olny joking Dave).

Sheff Utd: Henderson, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Baldock,Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, McBurnie. Subs: Zivkovic, Luke Freeman, Sharp, Jagielka, Kieron Freeman,Mousset, Osborn, Moore, Berge

Arsenal: Martinez, Luiz, Mustafi, Tierney, Maitland-Niles,Willock, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Pepe, Lacazette, Saka. Subs: Bellerin, Papastathopoulos, Ceballos, Aubameyang, Holding,Nelson, Nketiah, Macey, Smith

We are straight into the action today, with Arsenal travelling to Sheffield United in the second of the last-eight clashes. Manchester United were taken to extra-time by lowly Norwich City on Saturday night before scraping into the semi-finals with a 2-1 win.

Afternoon all! The Premier League takes a bit of a backseat this weekend as the grand old tradition-laden FA Cup takes centre stage.