After a long hard slog of winter Premier League action, attention is switched away from the ebb and flow of the league season this weekend for one reason only; the FA Cup is back.
The oldest, and probably the most evocative, domestic cup competition takes it’s bow in earnest this weekend as the big boys of English football enter the fray and begin what they will hope will end up with a day out at Wembley in May.
As ever, the FA Cup 3rd round has plenty of ties to capture the imagination, while there are also of plenty of opportunities for a good old fashioned cupset.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the weekend comes courtesy of Coventry’s trip to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham – a tie always likely to bring back memories of the Sky Blues' remarkable FA Cup final win in 1987.
Elsewhere it’s the battle of the Italian mavericks as Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City take on Gianfranco Zola’s Watford, while a handful of all-Premier League ties see Southampton go up against Chelsea and West Brom take on QPR amongst others.
So in honour of one of the greatest footballing institutions making it’s comeback in the new year, what better time that to take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the FA Cup's 142 year history. So sit back and enjoy GMF’s greatest FA Cup moments.
Liverpool v West Ham, 2006 FA Cup Final
We start our list with what many people call the greatest FA Cup final in modern history; some even call it the best of all time.
Liverpool’s showdown with West Ham in 2006 had it all, penalties, drama, controversy and most importantly goals.
West Ham looked on course to hold the cup aloft after taking a 2-0 lead before Djibril Cisse hauled Liverpool back into the game.
Then Steven Gerrard and took up centre-stage. The Liverpool skipper produced a couple of breath-taking goals with the score at 2-1 and 3-2 to send the tie into penalties, where he scored from the spot to help ensure Liverpool won a final that would never be forgotten.
Liverpool v Arsenal, 2001 FA Cup Final
Back in the days before he was a Match of the Day pundit, Michael Owen was indeed one of the deadliest strikers in Europe and in 2001, he inspired Liverpool to FA Cup glory against Arsenal.
At the first final to be held at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Arsenal had taken control thanks to a Freddie Ljungberg goal. However Owen stepped up to the plate, scored twice late on to break Arsenal hearts and win Gerard Houllier’s third trophy of the 2000/01 season.
Coventry v Tottenham
These two have plenty of history in the FA Cup, so it seems unfair to pick just one moment. in fact. it seems only fair to pick out two of the most memorable and group them together.
First there is the 1987 final which was decided in somewhat cruel fashion by a Gary Mabbutt own-goal in the 95th minute. Then there is outrageous Ricky Villa’s solo effort in the 1981 Cup Final replay to enjoy all over again, which is regularly voted as the best goal in FA Cup final history.
Manchester United v Arsenal, 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final
Another wonderfully iconic moment. Ask most fans and they will tell you where they were when Ryan Giggs set off on a mazy run against Arsenal before slamming the ball into the back of the net and revealing his plentiful man rug.
With Manchester United down to 10 men in extra time against the Gunners, Giggs set off, motoring past half the Arsenal team to fire Manchester United into the 1999 FA Cup Final. A simply brilliant goal and an even better celebration.
Chelsea v Middlesbrough, 1997 FA Cup Final
Roberto di Matteo is adored by Chelsea fans for more than just guiding them to the Champions League trophy last season - his FA Cup final goal against Middlesbrough in 1997 remains etched on the minds of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
The Italian smashed in a thunderous 30 yard drive with just 42 seconds on the clock to set Chelsea on their way to victory, scoring what was the fastest goal in cup history until Louis Saha broke his record.