3 valuable points: Slick Spurs show up another Ranieri error
The Italian's team selection at Millwall heads our writers' analysis of the weekend's FA Cup action...
Too much tinkering
Claudio Ranieri should have been full of regret as the final whistle was blown at the Den this weekend.
A last-minute Shaun Cummings goal made 10-man Millwall only the fourth lower-league side to ever eliminate the Premier League champions from the FA Cup.
But it didn’t have to be like that for the Foxes.
After a week off, Ranieri’s decision to make 10 changes from the team that started their last league game was baffling.
Having won just one match in eight, the ailing champions would have benefitted from a confidence-boosting win ahead of an important European tie.
That would have been a much likelier outcome with his best XI.
See Tottenham’s 3-0 win against Fulham.
A full-strength Spurs cantered past their Championship opponents at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
That was despite having played their Europa League match against Gent on Thursday, with the return leg coming this week.
Instead, Leicester will travel to Seville low on confidence and with a minute chance of a positive result – as reflected in their price of .
The Tinkerman only has himself to blame.
What a difference a draw makes
Arsenal – apparently in crisis after their defeat to Bayern – are suddenly two wins over non-league sides away from another trip to Wembley.
The Gunners have come through tricky runs in the FA Cup to reach the final in the past, but this year they have the easiest route of any side.
And their odds will only fall further should they see off Sutton as expected on Monday night.
So while Arsene Wenger seemed almost certain to leave Arsenal at the end of the season, the Frenchman now has a pathway to a situation where he can justify keeping his job.
Winning the FA Cup would give him cause to believe – rightly or wrongly – that he is still the manager to take Arsenal forward.
Wenger could have walked away after winning the competition in 2014 and 2015. Instead, he stayed, believing that his improving side were capable of conquering the Premier League.
In truth, they have gone nowhere since. Even if they do lift the cup for the third time in four years, they seem a long way from their first league success since 2004.
Nevertheless, their supporters should be prepared for Wenger’s time in charge to continue.
Sore heads in Lincoln
It was clear from the buzz in the room as manager Danny Cowley was interviewed after the quarter-final draw on Sunday - surrounded by doting Lincoln supporters - that the enthusiasm generated by Saturday's remarkable win at Burnley had not yet diminished.
Indeed, that the first non-league side to reach the FA Cup's last eight in 103 years were rewarded with the dream draw must only have contributed to the sense of celebration.
A tie with either Sutton or Arsenal is the perfect reward for their efforts, either representing an enormous chance to reach the semi-finals and Wembley or an away day they would have thought virtually impossible.
And the Imps' fantastic performance at Turf Moor added further vindication, if needed, to the party atmosphere.
This was no fluke.
Cowley's side, led by forward Matt Rhead, harried, hassled and discomforted a team that were unable to respond to a dose of their own medicine.
So Sunday evening's celebrations, which you sense were simply a hangover from the final whistle at Burnley over 24 hours earlier, were fully justified.
Let's hope the players weren't joining in, though. Cowley reckons they face their "toughest game of the season" at North Ferriby on Tuesday.