Monday, 10 January 2011

The Romance of the Cup lives on...

The FA Cup
The FA Cup has to be my favourite cup competition out of all the sports I follow. Nothing even comes remotely close to the size of it or provide half the drama that it brings. For the smaller clubs it is a chance to play against some of the best teams and players in the world and possibly cause an upset or two along the way. For the bigger clubs, it is a chance to achieve glory and win one of the most coveted trophies in football.

For me, the single best thing about the cup are the upsets. To see a smaller club play against the odds and defeat a bigger club is fantastic and every neutral fan wants it to happen. On Saturday, the FA Cup proved once more that there is still magic in the competition as we saw plenty of higher ranked teams toppled by lower league opposition.

Southampton (League One) defeated Blackpool (Premier League) 2-0

Southampton controlled this game from start to finish and won the game by two goals to nil that included a wonder strike from substitute Guly Do Prado. Both sides made plenty of changes to their squads before the game started and it is testament to the second string players that Saints have that they were able to overcome a squad that plies its trade in the Premiership.

Stevenage (League Two) defeated Newcastle (Premier League) 3-1

Were Stevenage out for revenge for what happened 13 years ago? I think you can safely assume that they were. Stevenage came out and played this game like their lives depended on it and embarrassed a pretty strong Newcastle side. It wasn't just a smash and grab victory either. Stevenage scored three goals and only conceded a wonder strike from Joey Barton. Of course Newcastle are focused on Premier League survival, but this one will sting for a while, no doubts there.

Notts County (League One) defeated Sunderland (Premier League) 2-1

Despite Notts Country being a whole league higher than Stevenage, this result was a bigger shock than the Newcastle one because this game was played at Sunderland's home ground. They weren't beaten on some awful pitch, they were beaten in their own back yard. Steve Bruce will not be happy with his side after this one and we could see a dip in form for the Black Cats if they don't bounce back quickly.

Burton Albion (League Two) defeated Middlesbrough (Championship) 2-1

If you had read my other article then you would know that I called this result before the game kicked off. It was written in the stars. Middlesbrough have been so rubbish all season and they were playing away from was meant to be that Burton would further compound the misery of the teeside club. This result does nothing to lift the already depressed spirit of the players and fans of Middlesbrough football club and we could see a relegation to League One if they don't sort themselves out. 

There were also some great efforts from lower league teams that forced replays.

Leeds United (Championship) drew with Arsenal (Premier League) 1-1

Leeds were only a few minutes away from beating Arsenal at the Emirates before Fabregas scored a 90th minute penalty. A draw was probably a fair result on reflection and now Leeds get to entertain Arsenal at Elland Road in the replay. I think Arsenal will probably get the job done at the second time of asking but the game served to highlight, once more, just how inconsistent this Arsenal team has been at home.

Leicester City (Championship) drew with Manchester City (Premier League) 2-2

Sven managed to pull off a great result by guiding his Leicester side to a deserved draw with the mighty Manchester City, his former club. The return fixture, at the City of Manchester Stadium, will probably be a different story but Leicester can enjoy the moment for now.

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