Wow! What a weekend of football. The F.A Cup is famous for its upsets but this weekend took that idea to the extreme. I thought that Wigan lifting the trophy two years ago was the pinnacle of F.A Cup giant killings in the modern era, but this past week proves you cannot take anything for granted in this competition.
On Friday night we saw Cambridge United hold Man United to a draw and earn themselves a fantastic money-spinning replay at old Trafford next week. On a normal weekend this would have been the shock of the round by a distance, and I’m sure that there were many Manchester United fans who weren’t looking forward to going to work on Monday after that result.
They didn't need to worry though because Saturday took the shocks up a level with four of the Premiership’ s current top six all bowing out. Tottenham Hotspur fell to a late defeat at home to Leicester City, with Spurs keeper Michel Vorm making a howler in stoppage time to gift the Foxes their winner.
Palace make their mark, but Bradford steal the show
Southampton played out a thriller of a first half with Crystal Palace as Palace took a 3-2 lead in a at half time, with a Chamakh double either side of a Yaya Sanogo strike being enough to knock out the Premier League’s third place side. Meanwhile Manchester City wasted a series of first half opportunities to fall to two second half goals by Middlesbrough to knock out the current Champions.
However, the shock of the round has to be Chelsea losing 4-2 to Bradford City at home despite being 2-0 up and a whopping fourty-nine places separating the two sides. Bradford scored more goals at Stamford Bridge than all the Premier League teams who have played their this season have managed combined. The League One side were superb and truly deserved their win. What made these results even more shocking was that each of the underdogs that won their ties did so away from home against a bigger side.
Sunday proved to be a party pooper
On Sunday a bit of normality returned to the competition as the Premier League teams began to stamp their authority on the competition. Arsenal, West Ham and Aston Villa each recorded wins against Brighton, Bristol City and Bournemouth respectively.
However, none of these were formalities with the lower ranked teams performing again performing admirably against their more elaborate opposition. Brighton twice clawed themselves to within one goal of Arsenal to cause a frantic final few minutes in a 3-2 defeat, Villa ran out narrow 2-1 winners and West Ham took until the 81st minute to score in their 1-0 victory.
Even Stoke, who ran out 4-1 winners against Rochdale on Monday night, didn’t find it straight forward despite the scoreline as Rochdale caused them various problems until Stoke doubled their lead in the second half.
If this weekend teaches us anything it is that we shouldn’t believe those that doubt the F.A Cup. The celebrations of the Bradford and Middlesbrough supporters show how magical the F.A Cup can be and their still isn’t a competition that can be as mesmerizing as the F.A Cup at this stage, with giant killings and major upsets providing talking points for fans country wide.