LONDON: Lukas Podolski was so determined to make the most of a rare start for Arsenal that he both scored a goal and conceded a penalty in the Gunners’ 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round in north London.
Victory was important, with Podolski’s old club Bayern Munich around the Champions League corner on Wednesday, to earn reassurance that that recent setbacks in the Premier League had been mere blips on the radar rather than a gathering storm.
In the previous eight days manager Arsene Wenger’s men had been beaten 5-1 at Liverpool and then scraped an unsatisfactory goalless draw at home to Manchester United in midweek.
For the Cup ‘return’ Wenger, with Bayern in mind, gambled on resting several seniors including Sagna, Gibbs, Wilshere, Cazorla and Giroud but was rewarded with both victory and a home quarter-final against Everton who beat League Cup finalists Swansea 3-1.
Liverpool were at full strength and dominated the opening exchanges but were caught out when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the first blow.
‘The Ox’, keen to press his World Cup claims, laid on Arsenal’s second goal for Podolski two minutes into the second half. However Podolski, striving to earn a starting place against Bayern, spoiled the effect by tripping Luis Suarez for a penalty which Gerrard converted to bring Liverpool back into the match.
For all their efforts, an equaliser was beyond Liverpool. Suarez has now gone four matches without a goal.
FA Cup quarter-finals:
Arsenal/Liverpool v Everton
Brighton/Hull v Sunderland
Sheffield United/Nottingham Forest v Sheffield Wednesday/Charlton
Manchester City v Wigan
Matches to be played over the weekend of March 8-9.