Arsenal avoided a humiliating League Cup third round exit against Shrewsbury as the troubled Gunners came from behind to win 3-1, while Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over old rivals Leeds United on Tuesday.
After Saturday's 4-3 defeat at Blackburn Rovers condemned Arsenal to their worst start to a Premier League season in 58 years, chief executive Ivan Gazidis chose to publicly express the club's support for manager Arsene Wenger.
But even Arsenal's loyal board may have started to doubt Wenger when League Two Shrewsbury took a shock lead through James Collins at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger has never hidden his distaste for the League Cup, yet he could hardly afford such a shocking defeat so soon after that incredible 8-2 loss to Manchester United.
So the Frenchman, who gave South Korean forward Park Chu Young his debut among 11 changes, must have breathed a sigh of relief as goals from Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yossi Benayoun sent Arsenal, beaten by Birmingham City in last year's final, into the fourth round.
"We took a gamble and played a young team," Wenger said. "It worked because you could see some players, like Oxlade-Chamberlain, have done extremely well and that is positive for the future.
"Shrewsbury were direct, but not without technique and had some dangerous situations. One-all at half-time was not too bad for us. In the second half, we took over and then it was all us."
Arsenal were in chaos early on as Mark Wright fired against a post and Shrewsbury went ahead when Collins powered home a header from Marvin Morgan's cross in the 16th minute. The turning point came when Reuben Hazel missed a golden opportunity to increase Shrewsbury's advantage.
Arsenal equalised moments later through Gibbs' header and young winger Oxlade-Chamberlain put the hosts ahead with a long-range shot that trickled past Shrewsbury goalkeeper Ben Smith. That settled Arsenal's nerves and a first goal for on-loan Chelsea midfielder Benayoun killed the tie.
Owen brace lifts United
At Elland Road, Michael Owen bagged a brace as Manchester United gained a measure of revenge for their shock FA Cup defeat against Leeds with a routine 3-0 win.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team were left with red faces after Leeds, then languishing in League One, won 1-0 in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford in January 2010. However, there was no repeat of that shock scoreline this time as Owen's double and a Ryan Giggs goal secured an emphatic success on United's first visit to Elland Road for eight years.
"Owen's ratio of goals to games is unbelievable and his second goal was fantastic," Ferguson said. "With Berbatov, (Javier) Hernandez and (Wayne) Rooney around the place he's not getting the games he deserves. It's unfortunate for him, but he's fantastic to have around."
Ferguson made 11 changes after Sunday's 3-1 win over Chelsea, with Owen and Dimitar Berbatov starting for the first time this season and midfielders Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick deployed out of position at right-back and centre-back respectively.
There was also a debut for teenage defender Ezekiel Fryers and United's unusual starting line-up were in front after 15 minutes when Owen met Park Ji-Sung's pass with a close-range strike. Owen produced another cool finish for his second goal from Mame Diouf's cross in the 32nd minute and Giggs put the result beyond doubt with a fine individual effort on the stroke of half-time.
Bolton down Villa
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish won this tournament with Birmingham last season, but he won't be going back to Wembley as Bolton Wanderers won 2-0 at Villa Park. Chris Eagles put Bolton ahead with a long-range blast in the 54th minute and Gael Kakuta's strike handed McLeish the first defeat of his Villa reign.
Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Mick McCarthy made eight changes from the team beaten by Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, but his stand-ins still thrashed Millwall 5-0 at Molineux thanks to goals from David Edwards, Adam Hammill, George Elokobi, James Spray and Adlene Guedioura.
Blackburn Rovers built on the momentum from Saturday's win over Arsenal as Steve Kean's team defeated League One strugglers Leyton Orient 3-2 at Ewood Park, with their goals coming from a Jason Roberts penalty and strikes from Ruben Rochina and Simon Vukcevic.
Thomas Sorensen was the hero for Stoke City as the Danish goalkeeper saved a spot-kick from Massimo Luongo to end an epic shoot-out and secure victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Newcastle United left it late to go through with a 4-3 win at Nottingham Forest thanks to a goal from Fabricio Coloccini in the last minute of extra-time. Forest had earlier come from behind three times with Robbie Findley, Matt Derbyshire and Marcus Tudgay cancelling out Peter Lovenkrands' double and Danny Simpson's 93rd-minute strike.
Finally, League Two Aldershot are the lowest ranked team left in the competition after beating Rochdale 2-1.