MANCHESTER, January 10: Scott McTominay celebrated captaining Manchester United for the first time by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory against Watford on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes to his team, who could go top of the Premier League on Tuesday, when they take on Burnley.
The home side started strongly at an empty Old Trafford, with Daniel James impressive on the left side of the attack, and were rewarded when McTominay gave them the lead in the fifth minute.
The Scotland international, who recently scored two early goals against Leeds, headed downwards from an Alex Telles corner and the ball went in off the post.
United were largely in control and Juan Mata saw an effort saved following a fluent team move and sumptuous flick by Donny van de Beek.
But McTominay’s header proved the only goal of a first half in which Watford threatened intermittently. Adam Masina’s effort was blocked by a mixture of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Axel Tuanzebe.
The opening period ended with United defender Eric Bailly being replaced by Harry Maguire after he was clattered by team-mate Henderson.
Solskjaer threw on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial midway through the second half but United were forced to settle for a 1-0 win.
Emile Smith-Rowe sends Arsenal into FA Cup fourth round after red card reprieve
Emile Smith-Rowe made the most of his red card reprieve as the Arsenal youngster sent the FA Cup holders into the fourth round with the decisive extra-time strike in Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Newcastle.
Smith-Rowe avoided being sent off when his foul on Sean Longstaff — initially ruled a dismissal — was changed to a booking after referee Chris Kavanagh consulted the pitchside monitor.
It would have been harsh on the promising 20-year-old midfielder if he had been given his marching orders.
Smith-Rowe celebrated the escape with a fine finish to open the scoring in a hard-fought third round tie at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged Arsenal’s second goal — just his sixth of a difficult season — in the final moments.
The Gunners’ gave boss Mikel Arteta the first silverware of his reign when they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final in August and the optimism provided by that success is slowly returning to north London after a difficult period.
Arteta was fighting to save his job just two weeks ago, but three successive wins over Christmas lifted Arsenal away from the Premier League relegation zone and eased the pressure on the Spaniard.
Arsenal have won the FA Cup a record 14 times, lifting the trophy four times in the last seven seasons, and another long run in the competition would be a welcome boost for Arteta.
Bernd Leno, Kieran Tierney, Pablo Mari and Aubameyang were the only Arsenal players to retain their places from the 4-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.
Arsenal were forced into a late change after Gabriel Martinelli suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Reiss Nelson.
Newcastle made eight changes of their own but chances were at a premium for Arsenal until David Luiz’s quick free-kick found Aubameyang, whose stinging strike was pushed away by Martin Dubravka.
Carroll scored his first Newcastle goal in 10 years recently and he forced Leno into action with an agile strike from the edge of the area early in the second half.
Newcastle were showing more attacking intent, only for Andy Carroll to waste a golden opportunity to put them ahead when he stabbed wide from close-range.
Joe Willock forced Dubravka to make a superb save at full stretch when the midfielder met Nicolas Pepe’s cross with a glancing header.
Arsenal captain Aubameyang couldn’t hit the target with a close-range header before Leno made a brilliant stop to deny Carroll in the final moments of normal time.
Arsenal broke through in the 109th minute when Bukayo Saka chipped a pass to Alexandre Lacazette and his header reached Smith-Rowe, who controlled on his chest before drilling a fine finish into the far corner for his second goal of the season.
Aubameyang put the result beyond doubt in the 117th minute when he tapped in Tierney’s cross. (AFP)