FA Cup replays are making a return for the 2021/22 campaign.
FA Cup replays
While that might have a few of you rolling your eyes, there’s no denying that drawn games being rolled over can be a massive economic boost for some of the competition’s lower-ranked teams.
That, and the fact it can either see plucky minnows drag their better-fancied opponents to their place or on the flip side, earn themselves a match at one of the nation’s biggest stadiums.
However, today, we’re deciding to look at an FA Cup ‘replay’ like no other and there’s a reason that we’ve put the word in quotation marks because in many ways it was more like a rematch.
Haaland to Chelsea ADVANCED TALKS (Football Terrace)
Arsenal vs Sheffield United
That’s because we’re reminiscing on the infamous clash between Arsenal and Sheffield United from the 1998/99 season, which ranks as an almost-entirely unique occurrence in football history.
Going into the final 15 minutes, the game at Highbury was resembling a pretty standard FA Cup tie with the scores locked at 1-1 after Marcelo’s header cancelled out Patrick Vieira’s opening strike.
However, that was when things took a turn for the worse with Arsenal scoring a winning goal that was so controversial it led to the decision that ‘the game should be declared void and replayed.’
Blades goalkeeper Alan Kelly had kicked the ball out of play to ensure that his teammate Lee Morris could receive physio treatment on the pitch having been hurt by Gilles Grimandi.
Arsenal’s controversial goal
Then, sportingly, Ray Parlour launched the ball in the direction of the Sheffield United shot-stopper once the referee had blown his whistle for the game to resume from the throw-in.
But that there was one major problem. Kanu, who was just 10 minutes into his Arsenal debut, decided to latch on to the sporting back-pass and run through on goal as if nothing had happened.
The Nigerian striker proceeded to square the ball to Marc Overmars who duly found the net, scoring a goal that left the United players baffled and ultimately saw Arsenal run away 2-1 victors.
It was a misunderstanding from Kanu, but a costly one nonetheless and the situation really does make for chaotic viewing, so be sure to check out the inciting incident down below:
Game voided and replayed
For a while, it looked as though the Blades were going to exit the pitch in protest with Steve Bruce passionately willing his team back into the dressing room, but the game eventually resumed at 2-1.
However, it quickly became clear that Arsenal wouldn’t accept their bizarre win with Arsene Wenger offering their opponents a rematch, remarking in his post-match interview: “We don’t want to cheat.”
The gesture was said to have been well received by both dressing rooms. Sheffield United took up Arsenal on their offer with the Football Association duly granting the two clubs a second match.
Said ‘replay’, so to speak, was played 10 days later at Highbury with Arsenal once again emerging 2-1 victors courtesy of goals from Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp.
So, in the end, nothing really changed, but the mad journey that got both teams to that stage made for one of the wildest moments in football history as well as some of its greatest sportsmanship.