Cyprus Mail
Football

Cup holders Arsenal held by Hull, Reading shock West Brom (Updated)

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny

By Martyn Herman

Holders Arsenal’s 14-match winning run in the FA Cup ground to a halt in a dreary 0-0 draw at home to Championship leaders Hull City in the fifth round at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The first of eight ties spread over three days was less than gripping as Hull hung on for a replay both sides could do without as they chase their respective priorities.

There were goals elsewhere, though, as second-tier strugglers Reading shocked Premier League West Bromwich Albion 3-1 and Watford saw off Leeds United 1-0.

Bournemouth host Everton later on Saturday in an all top- flight clash while on Sunday the standout tie of the round is Chelsea v Manchester City.

With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Barcelona, Arsenal made nine changes from the side that beat Premier League leaders Leicester City last week.

But even when manager Arsene Wenger, in charge of his 100th FA Cup tie for the club, threw on the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud the Gunners could find no way past Hull’s inspired keeper Eldin Jakupovic.

The Gunners will now need to survive a replay to keep alive their hopes of becoming the first club to win the Cup three times in succession in the modern era.

“The goalkeeper did well of course, but we had maybe 70 per cent possession and more than 20 shots on goal, and we didn’t score,” Wenger, taking charge of his 100th game in the FA Cup told reporters.

“The replay is not especially good news but Hull defended very well. Between that and going out, we choose the replay.”

GREAT SAVES

The closest Arsenal came to breaking the deadlock was Joel Campbell’s 54th-minute free kick that was tipped against the post by Jakupovic who also made great saves from Theo Walcott and Sanchez.

Hull, beaten by Arsenal in the 2014 FA Cup final after leading 2-0 inside the opening 10 minutes, rarely threatened, although David Meyler wasted their best chance when he shot into the side-netting.

The visitors made 10 alterations to their lineup from last week’s draw with Brighton and Hove Albion but manager Steve Bruce defended his selection which included a place for 16-year-old Josh Tymon.

“It’s not like I sent out a team of kids,” Bruce, whose priority is to get Hull back into the top flight, said.

“We made 10 changes and we rode our luck a bit, but the team deserved it for the spirit and effort they gave.”

Reading have slid down to 15th in the Championship having won only once in the league this year, but goals from Paul McShane, Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon sent them through to the quarter-finals at West Brom’s expense.

Captain Darren Fletcher put West Brom ahead but McShane and Hector headed in Oliver Norwood crosses before Piazon struck in stoppage time.

Premier League Watford avoided an upset against former winners Leeds when Scott Wootton’s own goal proved decisive at Vicarage Road.

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